Atlanta Perfect Spot for Rookie Running Back
Rookie running back Bijan Robinson was viewed as one of the most talented prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft and the best at his position since Saquon Barkley of the 2018 NFL Draft class. However, few NFL prediction expected the Texas product to go in the top 10 due to most teams steering away from running backs in the first round over recent years. However, the Atlanta Falcons went against the grain, drafting Robinson with the No. 8 selection.
The Falcons could be the perfect landing spot for Robinson with their run-heavy offense. This has made the rookie running back a hot name on betting markets with various NFL lines available. Will Robinson shine in his first season, fueling Atlanta to a breakthrough season?
Sky-High Expectations for Robinson
The expectations are about as high as it gets. Many believe Robinson could immediately become one of the league’s best running backs. The sportsbook even has the former Longhorn with an outside shot to win Offensive Player of the Year (+4000).
The Falcons certainly have the pieces for Robinson to thrive. Coach Arthur Smith has orchestrated some of the best rushing attacks in recent years, including his days as offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans in 2019 and 2020. After ranking 31st in rushing yards per game in 2021, Atlanta’s run game made a big jump last season, rising to second in the category.
The improved offensive line fueled the turnaround. Kaleb McGary emerged as one of the NFL’s top right tackles. The Falcons rewarded him with a three-year, $34.5 million contract this offseason. Chris Lindstrom also earned Second-Team All-Pro honors, becoming one of the league’s best guards. Lindstrom signed a hefty five-year, $105 million extension in April. In addition, Atlanta added Matthew Bergeron in the second round of the draft. Bergeron’s run-blocking drew rave reviews from scouts. He is expected to slide into the starting left guard spot.
Here are some of the plays showing why… pic.twitter.com/2YdzDFAGm0
— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) October 5, 2022
This will not be like Barkley with the New York Giants in 2018. It seemed like he was constantly running for his life behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Robinson has the talent to turn nothing into something and will also be equipped with an exceptional offensive line. This should be a lethal duo, tearing through opposing run defenses. Robinson (+275) is the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year among NFL expert picks.
Last season, Tyler Allgeier broke the franchise’s rookie record with 1,035 rushing yards. It took 43 years for William Andrews’ record to be broken. There’s a good chance Robinson sets another record only one year after Allgeier’s impressive season.
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Playoffs in the Picture?
The high expectations for Robinson are clearly warranted, especially considering his surrounding pieces. However, will he be enough to fuel the Falcons to the next level? Atlanta has its eyes on the NFC South crown after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady retired.
According to NFL odds, the Falcons have the second-shortest lines to win the South (+250), behind the New Orleans Saints at +115. A postseason appearance also looks realistic, priced at +120. The NFC is down, especially after the Green Bay Packers traded Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. Atlanta going over its projected win total of 8½ (-105) should be enough for a wild card spot. Finishing with a 9-8 or 10-7 record is not far-fetched when looking at the schedule, which includes battles against teams from the AFC South and NFC North.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder is stepping into his first season as the starter. Ultimately, Ridder’s play could decide the Falcons’ season. Robinson’s presence could make it much easier for Ridder, though. Coach Smith has been known to heavily utilize play-action passes. This could open up in the upcoming season with the addition of Robinson and tight end Kyle Pitts returning from injury. If Robinson is dominating, Ridder will consistently have wide-open targets off play action.
Y’all do love Bijan Robinson content, so here’s some more.
In between drills, he trots over to say what’s up to QB1 🤝
— Kelly Price (@thekellyprice) May 24, 2023
Robinson could truly become one of the NFL’s most valuable players in his first season. This is not something new for rookie running backs. We often see special talents get off to strong starts, but they slowly fizzle out due to wear and tear. This is why many teams avoid running backs in the first round of drafts. Robinson will be chasing memorable rookie seasons, like Barkley’s 1,307 rushing yards in 2018 or Ezekiel Elliott’s 1,631 rushing yards in 2016.
The addition of Robinson should do wonders for the Falcons’ playoff hopes. Atlanta also made under-the-radar upgrades on its defense, increasing its chances. Will the Falcons break through? Make your NFL picks at BetUS Sportsbook.
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