The term “generational” often times gets thrown around too much. Every year it feels like another player entering the NFL is tagged with that description, which devalues the meaning of it. Once in a while, however, a player actually does arrive who is worthy of that label, and you can get a sense of who it is just by watching them.
Atlanta’s Bijan Robinson feels like a player who fits this description. He’s definitely the type of player who does not come around every year. Robinson was heavily touted as the best player at his position in a number of years by scouts who watched him put on a show at the University of Texas.
Getting to watch and cover Bijan at training camp, live and in the flesh, provided an understanding of what the hype was about, and why the Falcons spent a top-10 selection on arguably the most devalued position in modern football. They weren’t selecting a running back. They were snagging an all-around offensive weapon.
If you were to have brought someone who never watched the sport of football to Flowery Branch in the period of late July-early August and asked them to just watch Falcons camp and explain to you what they saw, they would have singled out Robinson as the best player on the field. It felt like he moved at a different speed than everyone else.
Bijan Robinson going viral for this route and catch at Falcons camp pic.twitter.com/8jo87lXqMz— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) July 28, 2023
Robinson sometimes feels like he’s moving at a different speed against established defenders in the NFL now too. He utilizes exceptional 4.4 speed which, when paired with lethal agility and the ability to make the type of cuts that shouldn’t be possible at that level of fast twitch movement, establishes him as someone who was physically born to play this sport.
Watch what he does to Green Bay’s Kingsley Enagbare, Darnell Savage — a five-year veteran who has been a consistent starter and impact player for the Packers since being drafted in the first round — and Rudy Ford, who is now in his seventh season, on one play in Week 2.
Bijan Robinson cooking the Packers defense pic.twitter.com/opIWdQ9ExC— Alex (@Dubs408) September 17, 2023
Robinson displays incredible vision and elite cutback ability to make Enagbare’s left knee touch the ground in helpless pursuit on a play where a lesser running back would be taken down for a loss.
Savage has him covered, however. He’s already flown into the middle of the play on a run blitz, and he’s completely unblocked. Despite Robinson avoiding a bad 5-yard loss with his great first move, he seems destined to lose at least a yard as Savage has him dead to rights.
The cut Bijan makes next to nearly force a stout NFL safety into doing a gymnastics-style split feels like it should defy the laws of physics. Having already picked up steam and on the run, the rookie RB plants his right foot into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf, changes direction in the blink of an eye, and is running right by the suddenly on-all-fours defender without losing much speed at all.
As if to just drive the point home to the Packers defense that they have no authority or power over him, he makes another cut — this time while in second gear — to avoid the just-as-helpless Ford and to move past the first-down marker before it takes two Packers to bring him down on one of the greatest 19-yard runs to ever grace a football field.
Watch it one more time but from a bird’s eye angle.
This angle of Bijan Robinson effortlessly cutting and sifting through the packers defense is ELITE!! pic.twitter.com/9vvaJESprH— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) September 20, 2023
The Green Bay Packers did everything possible to win this play. They ended up having two defenders meet Robinson unblocked before he even reached the line of scrimmage, but the rookie tapped into his own array of brilliance to turn what should have been a disaster into a momentum-generating big play.
This play is a microcosm of who Bijan Robinson is as a football player. The vision, the speed, the ability to make the type of cut you would call “fake” if you ever saw someone do it in a game of Madden. A 21-year-old rookie making established NFL veterans look like children on a playground who seem helpless against one of the older kids. That’s what’s worthy of the term “generational” and of the “power player” label.
At just the age of 21, Bijan is already the best player on the field most of the time, and he has a very long career of making NFL defenders look silly ahead of him.