NFL Hot Press: Bijan Robinson Compared to Marshall Faulk

Bijan Robinson Compared to Marshall Faulk

Updated Nov. 18, 2022
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

In speaking to sources at a handful of teams, the consensus view is that Texas running back Bijan Robinson is considered to be a better prospect than other recent high first-round picks like Saquon Barkley (No. 2 overall in 2018), Leonard Fournette (No. 4 overall in 2017), and Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4 overall in 2016). Sources said given Robinson’s dynamic receiving skills, he is a mix of Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. They believe Robinson will be an elite playmaker in the NFL, with some thinking he could be a similar caliber of player to Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.

“It’s rare that the best pure runner is also the best pure receiver; that’s what makes Bijan unique,” said an area scout. “He can legitimately go run routes like a true receiver. His skill set is more Marshall Faulk than any of those guys. Saquon can obviously win in the passing game, but he’s not out running routes like Reggie Bush (Bijan does). His ball skills are as good as the top receivers in this class.

“There are other runners on his level or even a notch better, but you’re talking about the elite of every class, even on that alone. You can realistically run the offense thru him because he’s in on every situation as your RB1, 1-2nd Down, 2 minute, 4 minute. He’s more advanced all around than [Reggie] Bush, Joe Mixon, Saquon, Zeke. McCaffrey would have been like that had he been 215 pounds like Bijan. You have to go back to Faulk to find an elite runner and receiver like Bijan.”

To elaborate, that scout was not saying that Robinson is a similar style of runner as Faulk (5-10, 211), and they obviously are differently sized backs with different physical gifts. That scout meant Robinson could have the impact on a pro offense similar to what Faulk did for the Colts and Rams during his great career.

Robinson has played well in 2022, despite defenses stacking the box and selling out to stop him. He has averaged 5.7 yards per carry for 1,158 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has 19 receptions for 314 yards and two scores. In 2021, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also took 26 receptions for 295 yards and four scores. In 2020 as a freshman, Robinson flashed his big-time skill set with 703 yards on only 86 carries – 8.2 average – and four touchdowns.

The 6-foot, 214-pound Robinson also is drawing rave reviews for his character. Teams sources say he is a great kid, not a partier, a hard worker and a good teammate. Robinson is regularly being compared to the best backs of the past 20 years and coming out ahead.

“I personally loved Gurley even though our medical staff flunked him. The doctors were right about a degenerative knee,” said a director of player personnel. “I don’t think Bijan has as much [speed and explosion] as Gurley had coming out, but Bijan is shiftier and a better receiver with similar strength and power. I think Bijan is a better prospect than Barkley, Fournette, and Elliott.” As long as Robinson stays healthy, he could continue to rise in the pre-draft workouts after excelling in workouts and team interviews. The last time a running back was selected in the top-20 picks of an NFL draft was Saquon Barkley in 2018, and given the immense love for Robinson as a prospect, he looks poised to be a top-10 pick next April in the 2023 NFL Draft. He could crack the top five like Barkley did.