The NFL Draft is upon us, and that means it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming season. Futures Friday is back, and we’re getting started with a draft-related future bet. In this article, I’ll break down why I think there’s value in betting on former Texas and now Falcons running back Bijan Robinson to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Let’s get to work.
What to Know about Bijan Robinson
Bijan Robinson is an incredibly prolific prospect. A five-star recruit out of high school per 247 Sports, he was the #1 running back in his class and the #15 overall prospect in the class. Robinson has been hyped up for years as the future best running back in the NFL, and the production followed the hype while he was at Texas.
Robinson averaged an absurd 6.3 YPC for his career at Texas and finished with a whopping 4,215 yards from scrimmage and 41 total touchdowns, 20 of which came in the 2022 season. He forced 104 missed tackles last year according to PFF, breaking the site’s college record, and he’s tied for the best career forced missed tackle rate (39%) since the site began tracking college football.
Fill in the blank:
Bijan Robinson is the best RB prospect since _________ pic.twitter.com/DLR9fJFE2y
— PlaymakerU (@playmakerU) April 20, 2023
Simply put, Robinson is one of the best running back prospects we’ve seen in the modern era. He’s a remarkably gifted athlete who makes cuts you never see from someone who weighs 220 lbs – he plays to his weight, with the power to churn for yardage between the tackles to go with finesse in the open field as a runner or receiver.
Robinson’s Fit in Atlanta
The Falcons made a somewhat surprising pick when they took Bijan Robinson with the #8 pick, but it makes sense when you consider head coach Arthur Smith’s history. Smith is the former Titans’ offensive coordinator and was there during Derrick Henry’s All Pro season in 2020 when he registered 2,027 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Smith has seen first hand what an elite run game can do for the passing game as Ryan Tannehill was a prolific play action passer in Tennessee. He’ll hope to do the same for second year quarterback Desmond Ridder. However, the offense in Atlanta will revolve around Robinson the same way it did around Henry in Tennessee.
Falcons were 31st in Pass Rate Over Expectation last season. And now they've used the No. 8 overall pick on RB Bijan Robinson.
Full-blown boomer ball incoming.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) April 28, 2023
Robinson will benefit from playing behind an elite offensive line that I ranked fourth in the NFL in my recent rankings update. The Falcons resigned Kaleb McGary, extended Chris Lindstrom, and brought back all five starters from a group that ranked fifth in adjusted line yards. Atlanta ranked third in rushing DVOA despite rotating in different running backs and never having a consistent passing game to keep the defense honest.
Assessing the Competition
Bijan Robinson is the current favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at +400 odds, but some of his fellow draftmates aren’t far behind. I’ll give quick thoughts on why each of the other top players on the odds board have worse circumstances than Robinson:
QB Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (+475): I love Bryce Young’s potential as a playmaking savant under center with the ability to create out of structure and deliver accurate balls to all three levels. However, the supporting pass-catching in Carolina simply isn’t good enough. A group of D.J. Chark, Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault Jr., and a 32-year-old Adam Thielen simply isn’t cutting the mustard for Young to produce at an elite level right away.
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks (+650): The consensus top receiver in this year’s draft class, Jaxon Smith-Njigba fell more than most expected and landed at #20 to the Seahawks. While that’s a strong long-term landing spot, in the interim he’ll be competing with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for targets in an offense that wants to establish the run game with Kenneth Walker, as well.
QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans (+700): C.J. Stroud has a similar conundrum to Bryce Young in terms of limited pass-catching support as the current projected trio of wideouts is Nico Collins, Noah Brown, and Robert Woods, who hasn’t had over 1,000 yards since 2019. That’s significantly worse than what Stroud had at Ohio State while the competition level increases.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions (+850): The Lions made a shocking pick in Jahmyr Gibbs at #12, and while they invested early first round capital in the running back, it’s difficult to see his workload coming close to Robinson’s right away. Gibbs will be competing with D’Andre Swift and the recently signed David Montgomery for backfield touches while Amon-Ra St. Brown remains the focal point of the offense overall.
QB Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (+1200): If there’s another player whose OROY candidacy intrigues me, it’s Anthony Richardson, especially at these odds. Richardson was my QB1 in this draft class, and I expect him to hit the ground running as a productive rusher and big-play passer while he irons out the mechanical kinks. With a stout offensive line, high-end running back in Jonathan Taylor, and better pass-catchers than Young or Stroud, Richardson could push to win this award.
Despite the NFL’s transition to more pass-heavy offenses, four of the last ten winners of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award have been running backs – Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, and Eddie Lacy. Robinson is as talented if not more so than all of those guys, and he’s put in a perfect situation in terms of coaching and surrounding talent.
Robinson could push for 2,000 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season as the team will want to maximize its investment and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be among the most efficient running backs right away. I love getting him at +450 value to win the OROY award, and I imagine these odds will only shorten as we get closer to the season.
Running NFL Futures Log
I’ll update this every week with futures picks hyper-linked to my past articles for your convenience. If there isn’t a link, it’s because I haven’t written an article for it yet. Here’s the running list:
|Bijan Robinson to win Offensive Rookie of the Year||+450||DraftKings||1||4/27/2023|
|Philadelphia Eagles over 10.5 wins||-150||DraftKings||1||5/3/2023|
|Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South||+300||FanDuel||1||5/5/2023|
|Chicago Bears to win the NFC North||+350||Caesars||1||5/5/2023|
|Miami Dolphins to win the AFC East||+350||Caesars||1||5/5/2023|
|Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC West||+275||DraftKings||1||5/5/2023|
|Calvin Ridley to lead the NFL in receiving yards||+4500||DraftKings||0.25||5/26/2023|
|Arizona Cardinals under 5 wins||-110||Caesars||1.1||5/26/2023|
|Tennessee Titans to Win the AFC South||+400||DraftKings||1||6/7/2023|
|New York Jets under 9.5 wins||+120||Caesars||1||6/15/2023|