Five years ago, Robinson would have been a top-five pick. Forty years ago, when running backs had a greater relative impact in the NFL than they do now, Robinson might have deserved a top-five pick. We're finally past the event horizon of running backs getting drafted in the top 20 or so—even traditionalists of the Dave Gettleman generation learned too many lessons the hard way—but we shouldn't lose sight of how special Robinson is, or the fact that he could have a Todd Gurley/Saquon Barkley/Ezekiel Elliott-level immediate impact.
Robinson is a walking highlight reel coming off a 1,580-yard season. He possesses every move on the PS5 controller, including the combos that he strings together in traffic. His vision at the line of scrimmage is outstanding, allowing him to shuffle left or right in search of a crease, and he's tough to bring down, even in first gear. Once in the open field, he can breeze away from defenders.
Robinson can get a little too lateral, especially in short-yardage situations, and mixes drag-the-defense finishes with runs where he goes down more suddenly than expected; Robinson runs a little upright at times, giving defenders too clean a shot at him.
Robinson wasn't used much as a receiver (19 catches in 2022), but many of his targets and receptions came downfield. He mixes outstanding reps in pass-protection with bloopers, but he's more refined and rugged as a blocker than most collegiate featured backs.
Robinson is instinctive enough to turn 1-yard losses into 5-yard gains and 5-yard gains into 50-yarders. Like Saquon and others before him, his productive peak will likely be brief, so he fits best with a contender seeking a "win-more" playmaker.
Robinson enters the NFL at the wrong time for an old-fashioned big-program workhorse rusher, but at least he was in college at the right time: thanks to NIL, he has already earned over $1 million for his talents. That makes it easier to state that while Robinson is one of the 10 best prospects in the 2023 class, he still should not be drafted until the second round.
Stat Note: Robinson led all Power 5 conference rushers in both broken (46) and missed (40) tackles, per Sports Info Solutions. His Broken Plus Missed Tackle Rate of 33.3% tied USC's Caleb Williams for second in the nation among major-conference rushers, behind Oregon's Mar'keise Irving. Both Williams and Irving had over 100 fewer carries than Robinson.