The busy part of free agency is pretty much over, and now the league’s attention is beginning to shift towards the NFL Draft at the end of April. The Philadelphia Eagles have already begun their pre-draft visits for upcoming rookies, and their most recent visit garnered some headlines with Texas running back prospect Bijan Robinson flying into Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Robinson is pretty much the consensus top running back in this draft class, and many consider him the best prospect at his position since at least Saquon Barkley. There are really no obvious flaws in him as a prospect. He can run with both power and speed, he has great vision, he can catch out of the backfield, and he has shown he can handle heavy workloads. Just watch him play and see for yourself (Click “Watch on YouTube”):
You can look at his career production in college here. He lit up the stat sheet in addition to the eye test – especially in 2022. 16.5 yards per catch as a running back is flat out ridiculous. He also has a completely clean record off the field and is only 21 years old. As far as running back prospects go, you are very rarely going to find one that stacks up with Robinson. He is simply an incredibly good player who is going to play a lot from Week 1, regardless of who drafts him.
Those who follow the Eagles know that there are certain positions Howie Roseman will not expend significant resources on, and running back is among them. They did not hesitate to let Miles Sanders walk in free agency, and replaced him with a minimum contract in Rashaad Penny (though that has the chance to be a steal). Generally speaking, the Eagles have not drafted a running back in the first round since 1986 (Keith Byars). Still, the fact that the Eagles used a pre-draft visit on Robinson means that they are at least somewhat considering the possibility of taking him, and surely they are aware that he is too talented to not be selected in Round 1, even with the league’s devaluation of running backs over the past few years.
The Eagles have picks 10 and 30 in the draft. I would be shocked if Roseman used a top ten pick on a running back, but I also do not expect him to stick and pick for both of his first round selections, given his lack of Day 3 picks as well as his propensity to move around in the draft regardless. I also do not think Robinson is going to make it to pick 30. Could the Eagles trade down from the tenth pick, acquire some Day 3 picks in the process, and then draft Robinson? It could very well be something Roseman is looking into making happen.
The bigger question is: SHOULD they draft Bijan Robinson? In my opinion, if the value is right, they should absolutely go for it. Do they have long-term needs at more “crucial” positions? Absolutely, but this Eagles roster is good enough (and they have enough future draft capital) where they can afford to make a luxury pick like this. Robinson could legitimately instantly become close to a top 5 player at his position. The potential with adding him to an offense that already has Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and the best offensive line in the NFL is practically unprecedented. Additionally, this is also probably going to be the last season where Hurts costs next to nothing against the salary cap, so getting an elite player at their position for four cheap years is intriguing in the long-term as well. They would still have an additional first round pick, two Day 2 picks, and be loaded with 2024 draft capital.
Howie Roseman has put the Eagles in a position where they can afford to take some swings for the fences. This is an example of one he should definitely consider making.
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