Even with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic slated to line up behind Carson Wentz this season, the Washington Commanders added to their running back depth in Brian Robinson Jr in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night.
Despite the competition at the position, he could be a key contributor to Washington’s offense this year fresh off a redshirt senior season at Alabama. Here’s your cheat sheet with everything you need to know about the newest member of the Burgundy & Gold:
1. He follows a long line of star Alabama RBs
Though he played all four years at the best program in the country, Robinson enters the NFL having largely flown under the radar until his upperclassmen days. That’s because he was once in a running back core comprised of himself, Najee Harris, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris.
If Robinson can replicate what his predecessors have accomplished in the pros, he'll have a good NFL career. Najee Harris just made the Pro Bowl as a rookie on the Steelers; Damien Harris just ran for a spectacular 15 touchdowns for the Patriots; and Josh Jacobs made the Pro Bowl in 2020 and has eclipsed 1,000 yards in two of his three seasons in the NFL.
Yes, it would be a tall order to expect Robinson to live up to the standards set by that trio. But if recent history has told us anything, Alabama products (and running backs in particular—hello, Derrick Henry) tend to do quite well in the pro ranks.
2. He made history at Alabama
Here’s a stat that will make you tingle: Brian Robinson broke the Alabama program record when he became the first player to rush for 200 yards in a bowl game this past December. In the College Football Playoff semifinal vs. Cincinnati, Robinson jetted for 204 yards off just 26 carries, lifting the Crimson Tide to a 27-6 victory.
Take a look at some of Robinson’s carries in that game to see why Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew were so high on the 23-year-old:
3. He’s like a bigger J.D. McKissic
Much like the guy who he’ll be sharing a room with in Washington, Robinson can double as a pass-catching back, as he showed repeatedly at Alabama. In his redshirt senior season in 2021, Robinson not only rushed for a tenacious 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns, he also hauled in 35 passes for almost 300 yards and two TDs.
The Commanders were able to snag McKissic back after a proposed deal with Buffalo on a two-year, $7 million deal this past March. McKissic is a reliable, sturdy veteran who was one of Washington’s best offensive players this past year. Taking Robinson under his wing could do wonders for the rookie who is expected to play in a similar dual-threat, pass-protection style as his predecessor.
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4. He’s a bruiser
Robinson is tough to bring down. Bleacher Report described him as a “tough runner with good play strength. [He] consistently runs through arm tackles and has no qualms running through smaller defenders.”
At a bulky 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, Robinson uses his physicality to break tackles and speed past linebackers. He should pair nicely with the rest of Washington’s offensive weapons.
5. He was born to play at Alabama
Robinson was born in Tuscaloosa, the home of the Crimson Tide. Growing up, running the ball up the field decked out in Crimson was his life goal.
“It was one of those unbelievable feelings. It was hard for me to believe,” Robinson told Tuscaloosa News in 2017. “We were sitting in the office, and [Alabama coach Nick Saban] told me 'I'm going to offer you a full scholarship.' I’m like, 'You can't be serious!'”
Five years and a heck of a lot of hardware later, Robinson has completed his collegiate journey and ready to take on new challenges for the Commanders.