(WIVB) — It’s no secret that it’s a risk to draft a running back in the first round – and rare.
Since 2013, only 12 running backs have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, the vast majority of them being selected late in the first round. Sometimes they transform into stars, but it’s well-regarded that the shelf life of an NFL running back is not usually long.
This year, it’s Texas’ Bijan Robinson that the debate is swirling around.
In 2022, Robinson emerged as a star for the Longhorns, rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns over 258 rush attempts, helping led Texas to a top-25 ranking and an appearance in the Alamo Bowl.
He looks to be a player who can create disruptions for the defense when he is handed off the ball.
“I’m a knee bender when I run the ball,” Robinson said. “So another guy there was a knee bender was Barry sanders to try to redirect and be as low to the ground as you can and understand that you have to feel defenders and read their shoulders and read angles to break as many tackles as you can to try to get north and south so for me, I take pride in that.”
He can also contribute to the pass game. In 2022, he caught 19 passes for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Just creating mismatches for defenders all over the field and being able to create space for yourself and create space for the offense and opening up the offense. I just think that’s a high value that everybody should look at,” Robinson said.
Despite the riskiness of selecting a running back in the first round, he is likely to hear his name called on the first night of the draft. With the Bills having lost Devin Singletary in free agency and although they did bring in Damien Harris, is remains to be seen if Harris will be able to stay healthy through the entire season.
Bills GM Brandon Beane did say at the scouting combine that if a player like Robinson is a game-changer, it would be an option to take him with that first round pick.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.
Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.