The biggest reason why the Bucs might actually draft Texas RB Bijan Robinson
To be clear, I don’t think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should spend their first-round pick on Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Considering the other needs on the roster, their long list of pending free agents, and their terrible salary cap situation, the Bucs just aren’t in a position to make such a luxury pick with their top selection in the 2023 NFL draft.
That hasn’t stopped plenty of mock drafts from pairing Robinson with the Bucs at No. 19 overall, so let’s take a look at why it could actually happen.
For starters, Robinson is an absolute stud. A complete, three-down playmaker who can been set in stone as this year’s top running back prospect since the day he set foot on campus in Austin, Robinson is a Saquon Barkley-level of talent. In my latest overall rankings for this year’s draft, I had Robinson at No. 3 overall.
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If the Bucs want to strictly follow the “best player available” draft mantra, Robinson would obviously qualify if he’s still on the board when the Bucs go on the clock.
But there’s an even bigger reason why I think the Bucs might actually make this move, if presented with the opportunity.
Let’s go back to 2017.
Just like this year, the Bucs held the No. 19 overall pick.
Many Bucs fans, some of them equally supportive of Florida State, were begging the team to select FSU running back Dalvin Cook.
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Instead, the Bucs took Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, while Cook fell to the second round, snatched up by the Minnesota Vikings before Tampa Bay’s next pick came up.
Howard flashed potential here and there, but his tenure in Tampa Bay was marked by injuries and inconsistency, while Cook quickly became one of the most dynamic, explosive, and productive backs in the NFL.
Robinson is an even better prospect than Cook was, so if he happens to fall to the Bucs’ pick, would it really be that surprising if Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht decides that he won’t make the same mistake twice?
This year’s running back class is extremely deep, and the Bucs already have a budding star in Rachaad White, last year’s third-round pick. In fact, I wrote earlier this week about why Robinson’s teammate, Roschon Johnson, would make more sense as a mid-round target for Tampa Bay.
But while all of that is true, if the Bucs want to draft the best player on the board, and Licht wants to atone for passing on Cook all those years ago, Robinson to Tampa Bay might just happen after all.