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Why having Desmond Ridder as roommate has helped Bijan Robinson learn Falcons system

No. 8 overall NFL Draft pick shares four-bedroom dorm with Ridder, Taylor Heinicke and Logan Woodside

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons normally make dorm assignments by position group, typically with a mix of veteran presence and younger players. These guys live together on campus at the team's training camp, throughout the training camp portion of the preseason.

Bijan Robinson's assignment went against tradition somewhat. The No. 8 overall NFL draft pick isn't sharing a four-bedroom dorm with the likes of Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson and his fellow rushers.


Robinson is living with the quarterbacks.

So it's Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside and…Bijan?

"It seems like a smart decision," Ridder said on Wednesday.

QB1 isn't wrong. The logic behind the move is sound, especially when you hear Ridder explain it.

"He's the top draft pick in our class and you want him to play automatically," Ridder said. "To play in this league, you have to know what the heck is going on. There are no players who know what the heck is going on more than the quarterbacks do."

Robinson has to know what the heck is going on at so many different spots. The Falcons are going to move him around a ton, with creative shifts, motions and alignments to help find mismatches for his exemplary skill set. Versatility might be his best asset, allowing him to do so much from the backfield, in the slot and even out wide.

"He's a versatile player who is able to a lot with his hands on the ball," Ridder said. "We're going to move him around wherever we're at, so he has to know a lot of different things. To be able to do that and to learn how to do those things is going to be good."

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.

Robinson's expected to make an instant impact doing all that, meaning the young runner has a lot to learn. That doesn't mean head coach Arthur Smith, offensive coordinator Dave Ragone and position coach Michael Pitre will throw everything at him at once. There's time-release formula to this process, meant to ease Robinson's stress levels and help him absorb and then apply.

"They're helping me out a lot," Robinson said. "There are tons of meetings, with me and Coach Pitre and Coach Rags, we're always studying. I understand that learning a lot of different things within the offense can be taxing on the mindset. I'm taking it one day at a time."

Coaches play a vital role in this endeavor. So does the roommate assignment and the daily routine that comes with it.

"When we get (back to the dorm) it's me, Logan, Taylor and Bijan sitting at the table," Ridder said. "As soon as we get the script, we're all going over it together. We know a little more than him, but he's still learning and doing a great job picking things up. There's a lot thrown at him, but we like to quiz him. We'll ask him random questions, like where he's supposed to be at here and there."

The quizzes certainly help. They don't alleviate mistakes. Those will come in this camp and beyond, as they do for all rookies. Robinson has made his fair share, some more subtle than the jaw-dropping plays that have popped onto your social media feed. Smith has praised Robinson for recovering for them well, especially after a relatively off day on Tuesday.

Robinson's a film guy and always has been, and has found a good balance between learning the system and maintaining a proper mindset through the intensity of camp. Having near constant access to Ridder, however, has been an asset. If he has a question after the day's official work is done, Robinson can just go out to the common areas and ask.

"We're always studying and trying to find and edge," Robinson said. "He is always helping me try to find a way I can do something better on the field. He has been such a big help for me. I can't thank him enough."

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