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'More than a running back': How Bijan Robinson fits in Arthur Smith's offense in Atlanta

The Falcons drafted the running back out of Texas with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Kyle Pitts. Drake London. Tyler Allgeier. Cordarrelle Patterson. Jonnu Smith. And now, Bijan Robinson.

With the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected the Texas running back to join the already impressive slate of skill players in Atlanta, all of which have been acquired by Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith and their football staff since they arrived in Atlanta in 2021. This also comes on the heels of the Falcons extending right guard Chris Lindstrom as well as re-signing right tackle Kaleb McGary. The bulk of the Falcons 2022 top-three rushing offense returns in 2023, now with the addition of Robinson, who told reporters on Thursday night that while on his draft call with the Falcons they told him he "just fit."

And he does.

The one word that comes up every time someone - anyone - talks about Robinson is "elusive." It's the word that comes up often because it's the best word to describe the way Robinson plays. Dante Fargnoli, the Falcons area scout in charge of Robinson's area of the country, brought that word up, too, in the moments after the Falcons took Robinson in the first round.

"His elusiveness," Fargnoli said of what first stands out about Robinson. "It's hard to get a good hit on the guy because he's so hard to tackle. He has spin moves, elusive juke moves. No one really gets a clean shot."


Robinson has a true three-down skillset. He's durable, having handled a significant workload over three years as a starter at Texas. He also has an important addition to his tool box: He's a pretty reliable pass catcher. Whether its downfield on wheel routes or in the slot, Fargnoli said it's something that showcases how special Robinson is as more than what meets the eye.

"It goes to show you how he's utilized as a weapon, not just a running back," Fargnoli said. "It's like with (Kyle) Pitts as a tight end. He's not just a tight end, he's an all-around offensive weapon. Whether it's Cordarrelle (Patterson), now Bijan, we're not going to just use these guys in the box. It'll be outside-the-box thinking."

Talking with Robinson's new running backs coach, Michael Pitre, he agreed, saying that with the Falcons already established offensive attack, Atlanta knew Robinson would "be a great fit." But again, in more ways than one.

"On the website, it may say running back, but he's more than a running back. He truly is," Pitre said. "He has an ability to change and affect the game anywhere he's lining up on the field, and that's what I think makes us excited about him, because of all the things we do from an offensive scheme standpoint."

Take a look behind the scenes at the team behind the draft led by Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot.

Perhaps it won't be too surprising if, come Week 1 of the 2023 season, that Robinson is on the field at the same time as Tyler Allgeier or Cordarrelle Patterson. Maybe Smith would even have all three out there together from time to time? The offensive play caller does love to mix things up personnel-wise. Truly, maybe we should all prepare to see quite a bit of 22 personnel come September.

Pitre concluded by saying the Falcons already have a vision for what Robinson can be in this offense, which has seen Patterson reach new heights in his decade-long career and has allowed for a 1,000-yard rushing season for Allgeier in his rookie season.

This all bodes well for Robinson, who joins an offense already set up to highlight him.

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