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Bijan Robinson set to play versatile roles in Falcons offense

The team’s newest running back is ready to hit the ground running...and receiving.

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Falcons invested a top-10 pick in Bijan Robinson, banking on the person and the player being a difference maker for an offense that loves to run. It’s clear from their opening remarks that Arthur Smith and this team are hoping that Robinson can be more than just an elite runner, though that’s obviously priority one.

In late night remarks after the first round, Smith and Terry Fontenot sounded pretty jubilant about the player they just got, which is a big positive when you’ve selected a running back as early as they just did. A team that has been pushing toward blurring the lines between positions at times over the past two years now appears committed to doing so more frequently, with Robinson set to potentially line up as a receiver at times, Kyle Pitts set to line up everywhere, and Cordarrelle Patterson potentially picking up more reps as a receiving option.

Robinson should be key to that. Take this quote from Falcons area scout Dante Fargnoli, from Tori McElhaney’s writeup:

“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.”

Robinson himself confirmed the team has mentioned using him as a slot receiver, meaning we could see the Falcons at times next year with Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson on the field at the same time. The potential for chaos is ripe if Smith can cook up creative gameplans, and the only certainty is that Robinson will be a critical piece of the offense, if not the centerpiece. Remember, even with Drake London and Kyle Pitts on hand, this is not a pass-first offense, even if Desmond Ridder makes major strides. Having Robinson lead the way in the backfield and serve as a dangerous open field threat in the short passing game will only help Atlanta.

As a back, Robinson is hard to bring down and incredibly dangerous in the open field, as well as durable enough to hold his own. The Falcons can use him as much or as judiciously as they like on the ground, given that Tyler Allgeier showed he can be an effective volume runner and they still have Cordarrelle Patterson as a dangerous short yardage and goal line option. He’ll be the lead back in Atlanta—that should be obvious—but he’s not going to get 25-30 carries per game most weeks with Allgeier here and the team intending to use him as a receiving option as well.

Robinson himself summed up what the Falcons are banking on after spending three straight top ten picks on offensive weapons, which is not just a successful 2023 but a long-term juggernaut offense.

“We’re going to try to build something special. Hopefully we can stay together and play together for a long time.”