The hype machine for Bijan Robinson was out of control, naturally. After a magical career at Texas that saw him selected at No. 8 by the Atlanta Falcons, expectations were sky-high for a player I think most of us felt was genuinely special. Living up to that in year one was going to be tough, and it’s fair to argue that Robinson wasn’t quite the game-changing talent on a week-to-week basis we hoped for.
If the rookie season was not quite the tour de force we imagined, it was still a damn good season, especially given his uneven usage in Arthur Smith’s maddening offense. Bijan’s 976 yards rushing were 15th in the NFL and third in team history for a rookie, and his 58 receptions were sixth among running backs while his 487 receiving yards were fourth among the position. He was 10th in the NFL in terms of yards from scrimmage and tied for 33rd in total touchdowns. All in all, it was a productive season with some eye-popping highlights that hinted at what Robinson can consistently do if given the opportunity.
Bijan Robinson first career NFL touchdown is a HIGHLIGHT.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 10, 2023
Unsurprisingly, given the hype and the results, Robinson is a finalist for Pepsi’s Rookie of the Year. He joins explosive backs Jahmyr Gibbs and De’Von Achane, rugged and hyper-productive receiver Puka Nacua, talented tight end Sam LaPorta, and the next great NFL quarterback C.J. Stroud on a list of six rookies up for the award.
Robinson won’t win it—Stroud really should—but he deserves to be in the conversation, and I think he’ll likely finish in the top three or four. It’s impossible not to daydream about what he might do as a more refined receiving option in year two with the experience he now has under his belt, and what he’s capable of doing as the dynamic runner he will be in 2024 in a better offense. For now, we applaud the recognition and hope to see even more greatness from Robinson next year.