Robinson: Versatility creates ‘high value’ for draft

  • Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
  • Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
  • Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
    of Selectors since 1999

INDIANAPOLIS — Texas running back Bijan Robinson knows the math may be against him, but he said there should be no hesitation about selecting him early in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

Robinson, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back, said if it makes the league’s decision-makers feel better, they should just call him a player who can “create mismatches all over the field,” even if it means lining him up at wide receiver.

“First of all, I feel like if you’re a guy who can do all three for your offense, I think that’s a very special quality for a player,” Robinson said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine. “You line a player up at receiver, at slot or, obviously, at running back. Just creating mismatches all over the field and being able to create space for yourself … that’s a high value everybody should look at.”

Robinson, a unanimous All-America selection in 2022, ranks fourth in Longhorns history with 3,410 rushing yards, including 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns this past season. He also led the nation’s running backs in broken tackles.

He is ranked as the No. 6 overall draft prospect by ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr.

Robinson said he hope he matches the draft fortunes of the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley, who many have compared him to. Barkley was selected No. 2 overall in the 2018 draft — the highest pick for a running back since Reggie Bush was taken No. 2 in 2006.

Many personnel executives in the league believe drafting a running back in the top half of the first round is unwise.

“I don’t want to say it’s unfair. … You just never know on that day where you’re going to go,” Robinson said. “For me, it’s important to keep enjoying the moment. We might get to draft day and some surprise could happen. You just never know.”

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr., the consensus No. 1 pick by ESPN’s analysts, said earlier this week at the combine that Robinson was the best opposing player he had faced in his career.

“I appreciate him saying that,” Robinson said. “It’s cool to have somebody like that in your corner. … I just feel at the size that I’m at and the things I can do on the field, whether it’s pass catch, line up at receiver, line up at slot. Just pretty much line up anywhere you need me to be; if you can run routes and the next play, line up and run between the tackles.”

Asked about his own evaluation of his play, Robinson invoked the name of Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.

“I’m a knee-bender when I run the ball, and another guy who was a knee-bender was Barry Sanders,” Robinson said. “To try to redirect, to try to be as low to the ground as you can and understand you’ve got to feel defenders and read their shoulders and read angles, to try to break as a many tackles as you can. … I take pride in that.

“… I’m trying to dissect it, trying to create open holes, create lanes for myself no matter what it is, eight in the box, nine in the box, seven in the box, I’m just trying always to find ways.”

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