Baltimore Ravens: To Bijan Robinson Or Not To Bijan

Every NFL draft cycle, there is always a polarizing player that people just cannot seem to place. Whether it be a lack of production in college but a terrific combine performance or the measurables weren’t as prototypical as one might prefer despite, there are always prospects that divide the draft community in half. This year, that prospect is Bijan Robinson. While no one can deny his talent, most question the position he plays. So where will Robinson settle in the draft? Some have linked him to a team that could certainly use his services: the Baltimore Ravens.

This link in itself has caused quite a stir in the Ravens Flock community. We weigh the pros and cons of Baltimore drafting the highly touted prospect out of Texas with the 22nd overall pick.

The Case Against the Ravens taking Bijan Robinson

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As the old adage goes: never draft a running back in the first round. No matter the talent, no running back is immune to the brutal wear and tear the position calls for. Every great running back has, at one point or another, hit that wall that they cannot run through, whether it be due to age or the physicality of the position.

When a team drafts a running back, they can only expect a short period of time where that player can realistically be considered an effective piece of the offense. Bijan Robinson, with all of his talent, is not immune to this.

As for the Ravens themselves, they already have an effective stable of running backs in place. JK Dobbins came into the league with high expectations, and it’s safe to say he is meeting them.

From Weeks 14 through 17, Dobbins led the league in rushing and yards per carry, becoming Baltimore’s most effective offensive weapon with Lamar Jackson missing time. With a 5.9 YPC average over his entire career, Dobbins should be mentioned as one of the most effective runners in the league.

Behind Dobbins sits the ever reliable Gus Edwards. Despite an injury, Gus “The Bus” is still a physical runner who is reliable in short yardage situations.

The biggest reason the Ravens won’t be selecting Bijan Robinson is the construction of the current roster. The team simply has too many holes. Wide receiver, a constant thorn in the side of the franchise, is a glaring need that must be upgraded.

Another outside corner to pair with All-Pro Marlon Humphrey is needed, especially if perennial fan favorite Marcus Peters isn’t brought back. And of course, the looming future of Lamar Jackson will certainly decide the direction of the franchise for years to come.

Couple that with the fact that the Ravens current do not hold a second round pick in this year’s draft. With so many needs and fewer draft picks than usual, it is difficult to argue for using a pivotal first round selection on a position that is hardly a need for the team. As talented as he is, drafting Bijan Robinson would be a questionable — at best — move for the Ravens.

The Case For the Baltimore Ravens Drafting Bijan Robinson

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With the departure of Greg Roman as offensive coordinator, many believe that his replacement, Todd Monken, will implement a heavier passing attack. While that may be true, a major reason Monken was hired is because he won’t deviate greatly from the offensive scheme the Ravens have in place.

The Ravens won’t stray too far from what has brought them success the last few years: an elite run game. Robinson would be an immediate superstar in Baltimore’s intricate ground attack, and he would take pressure off of Lamar Jackson as someone who can be consistently relied upon to make plays. Bottom line, Robinson can be an elite bell-cow for the Ravens’ rushing attack.

One of the cases against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson could also be a case for drafting him: JK Dobbins. While Dobbins has been one of the most effective runners when on the field, getting him on the field has been his biggest issue.

A torn ACL just prior to the 2021 season kept the former Buckeye on the sidelines for the entirety of that year. It’s clear the Ravens are cautious about his health. In fact, Dobbins has had more than 15 carries in a single game just once in his career. That’s not exactly a strong vote of confidence in the young back.

Beyond the roller coaster of availability of Dobbins, depth at the position could be light. Gus Edwards is a prime candidate to be released, as that move would would free up nearly $4.5 million for the cash-strapped franchise according to Spotrac.

Not to mention both Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill will be headed to free agency, as well. The cupboard for Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack could look very bare by mid-March.

Of course, there is Bijan Robinson himself. The Longhorn runner is an elite playmaker as both a runner and a pass catcher. A patient runner who waits to find an opening, he can accelerate and use his exceptional agility to make a big play in a flash.

Given his size (6’0, 220 lbs), it’s difficult to grasp just how Robinson can be so explosive. Aside from Lamar Jackson, the Ravens don’t have an offensive player close to the caliber of Robinson. He would be an immediate play-making threat for an offense that simply lacks many at all.

With that said, it is impossible to discount the Raven approach to “best player available.” Though it seems overused, the Ravens have built their identity around this mantra — to grand success. There is no denying that, regardless of position, Robinson is a top-5 talent in this draft. Just because the Ravens don’t necessarily need a certain position, that hasn’t stopped them from addressing the position regardless. Look back to their 2001 draft.

Despite having Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, the Ravens weren’t swayed from taking Arizona tight end Todd Heap. That move worked out fairly well for Baltimore. The Ravens have done this countless times over the years. Who is to say they won’t do it again in 2023? Robinson may just be too talented for the Ravens to pass up.

A more recent example occurred just this past year. The Ravens boasted two first round picks in 2022 NFL Draft and selected safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum. Neither position is considered to be a premium position to use a first round draft pick on, but the talent for both was too good to pass up on. Not to mention, with Marcus Williams and Chuck Clark already on the roster, safety was hardly a position of need.

However head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric De Costa repeatedly stated Hamilton was at the top of their big board and were elated when he fell into Baltimore’s lap. Yet more proof that the Ravens overlook position and need when it comes to drafting top-level talent.

Bottom Line

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From a pure talent stand-point, it’s hard to argue against the Ravens drafting Bijan Robinson 22nd overall. He would be an exciting addition to an offense that seems to be constantly lagging behind. However, there are too many holes on the roster that could be filled with the Ravens first pick.

Cornerback and receiver are much more pressing needs that the Ravens must address early. Pair that with the on-going drama over Lamar Jackson’s contract, a first round selection of a running back may be too rich for a franchise that can’t seem to afford it.

But with the Ravens and high level-talent, you can never say never.

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