When it comes to the NFL Draft for the Detroit Lions, there are many routes to travel. Some will address immediate needs, and some will anticipate future needs in 2024 and beyond. With only D'Andre Swift, Jermar Jefferson, Greg Bell and Jason Cabinda (FB) currently under contract for 2023 and none of them through 2024, running back is a low-key need for the Detroit Lions, this year or next.
The 2023 NFL Draft is LOADED with talent at the running back position. The consensus board I'm using has a draftable grade on 18 running backs, with 9 in the first three rounds. However, one sits far and away the highest: Texas RB Bijan Robinson.
Bijan won the Doak Walker award in 2022, awarded to the best RB in college football and was a consensus All-American. He led the nation in yards from scrimmage with 1894, and smashed the record for broken tackles in a season, per PFF, with 104.
40-yard dash: Estimated 4.49s
Run: 258 rushing attempts, 1580 yards, 18 TDs.
Pass: 19 catches, 314 yards, 2 TDs.
He's a versatile weapon, exceptional as a runner whether that's inside or out, with excellent lateral movement and explosion. His vision is very good, he's able to set up his blocks, almost always falls forwards, and is hard to bring down on the first tackle.
As a pass catcher, his releases are crisp, the route running is precise and nuanced and his catching ability is as good as many receivers in this class. He can do it in the backfield, or empty out onto the line and has experience running all of the routes. If anything, he was severely underutilised in this aspect in college, I suspect because he was just so good at running the ball anyway.
He's a three-down back. His pass-blocking ability isn't quite that of a seasoned NFL veteran, but it's excellent for a college player.
There are very few. Sometimes he can be reluctant to drop the shoulder and drive in power situations which leaves him open to shots from big interior defenders.
The other that I've identified on tape is that when he has to pick up blitzes he can sometimes pick the wrong defender to block in a choice between two.
Bijan shows a patient run style, often waiting behind the line for holes to develop. Given that and his physical profile, he reminds me of Le'veon Bell in his prime.
Bijan should be coveted by every team in the draft. His skills are exceptional and not scheme specific. We haven't seen the like of him since and INCLUDING Saquon Barkley in my opinion. For that reason, I'd be surprised if he makes it outside the top 10 in the draft. Would I take him at 6? It's a little rich for my blood. If he fell to 18, you'd better believe I'd run in that card!
If you want to see some Bijan highlights, check our video on Bijan out:
What do you make of Bijan as a prospect? Do you want him here? Let us know!
Pod Links: linktr.ee/roarofthelionsuk