I seem to be in the minority on this: I don’t think teams, particularly teams that are in contention and would be significantly improved with a great offensive weapon, should be overly concerned with whether a rookie will be around long enough to sign a second contract. That’s partially because the majority of first-round picks do not sign second contracts with teams anyway. From 2011 to 2014, in fact, per overthecap.com, only 38 percent of the top 10 picks signed second deals with teams, and just one-third of those picked 11 through 20 re-signed with teams.
That brings me to Robinson, the talented Texas back. He’s a great runner, first. But watch this clip (this link is set to begin right at 3:00, on the exact play I want you to see) of a deep route run out of the slot by Robinson to see his versatility and hands—and to see why his college coach, Steve Sarkisian, thinks Robinson could be a full-time receiver if that’s how a team wanted to use him.
My point: If you only had Robinson for five years—four years plus exercising the fifth-year option as a first-round pick—and he played behind the kind of offensive line in, say, Philadelphia, are you telling me he wouldn’t be worth the pick? Not to fixate on Philly, but two of the last four top picks (Jalen Reagor, Andre Dillard) didn’t work out anyway. The average first-contract cap number for Robinson in Philadelphia would be $5.5 million. But let’s not stick to Philly. Go to mid-round, and pick 18, where Detroit would certainly be in contention to draft Robinson. His cap number in the first four years as the 18th pick: $2.8 million, $3.5 million, $4.2 million, $4.8 million … between 1 and 3 percent of your cap each year.
I asked Sarkisian if he thought Robinson was an exception to the rule about taking running backs high in the draft. “I definitely think he is,” he said. “Bijan is not your typical first- or second-down back. He’s not your typical third-down back. He is an every-down back who can run between the tackles, can make people miss on the perimeter, is extremely difficult to get on the ground in space, and can run routes like receivers. He can catch the ball like a receiver. I think the game of the NFL is really fit for his skill set, maybe to some degree a little better than college quite frankly.”
I asked him which teams have been sniffing around Robinson in pre-draft phone calls. “It’s so hard to gauge because, for instance, I was at Alabama, and I recruited Bryce Young and coached him for a year, so there are questions about Alabama guys,” Sarkisian said. “But you gotta remember: Lots of teams never let you know what they’re thinking. I was with Al Davis in Oakland for a year, and he never called the people he knew he was going to draft.”
Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column