FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Bijan Robinson was busy as heck on NFL draft night. The former University of Texas running walked the red carpet in Kansas City, went through an epic media car wash and then got taken No. 8 overall by the Falcons while surrounded by family and friends.
Robinson was everywhere that evening, flashing his signature smile to everyone looking for a snapshot. It was a big night where his accomplishments sat at center stage.
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It was okay to make that moment all about him.
That's not exactly Robinson's style. After getting an important call from Terry Fontenot, he asked the Falcons for some information. No, it wasn't just about where to live or what time his charter flight was headed for the ATL.
He wanted phone numbers for the offensive line. True story.
"Here's a cool thing: he texted the offensive line when he got drafted," right guard Chris Lindstrom said during minicamp. "He said that he's really happy to work with us. I've only known him for a little while, but he has been pretty amazing around the building. I think all that speaks to who Bijan is and everything he's about."
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Robinson made a good one on the guys who play a huge role in his on-field performance.
It went beyond that first text. Players and coaches say Robinson has been impressive both as a teammate and a practice player, inspiring confidence that he can make the instant impact expected of someone drafted so high.
"He's amazing," Lindstrom said. "You don't pay much attention when you're on the field because you're doing your job but, when you step back and watch, you can see how good he is. He's great."
Look, Robinson has to go out there and prove it. He knows that. His teammates do, too. He hasn't done anything in the NFL yet, so we'll pause on stoking too many coals on the hype train engine.
This story is about impressions made, nothing more. There's a lot you can't tell about a rookie running back in practices without pads. As Arthur Smith often says, the offseason program is essentially a passing camp.
There are other things one can see, however, with a keen eye for the game.
"Certain dudes, you can just see the way they move, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. "That it's special the way you carry yourself. He's going to be a heck of a player. He's put so much tape out already through his college career but I am sure they are going to have a great plan for him. I don't see him missing a beat. The better he does, the better for the team."
What exactly is it, Grady, that makes you think that?
"I think just the movement skills," he said. "… When you've been in the league going on nine years now you know with certain guys just look different."
If there's an opinion to intrinsically trust on the matter of versatile running backs, Cordarrelle Patterson is your guy. The veteran knows a thing or two about being successful doing a little bit of everything well. He also knows how such a skill set will play within the structure of Arthur Smith's offensive scheme.
Even Patterson has come away with respect for Robinson and is interested in seeing how he turns out. While Patterson will certainly offer some counsel on the field and in meeting rooms, he also believes Robinson will do just fine after getting to know him a little bit.
"There's not much you can tell a guy like that," Patterson said. "He's just so humble and rooted in his faith. He has come in and he's not nervous. He has adapted well and has learned the playbook so quick. As y'all have seen, he's out there everywhere. There's not one spot he can't play on this field. I'm excited to see that man do what he's supposed to do."
Join us for a sneak peek at some of our favorite photos of Desmond and Drake from the 2023 Atlanta Falcons creative days.