Detroit Lions could land ’next Barry Sanders’ in 2023 NFL Draft

The Detroit Lions may not necessarily need a running back in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft if they re-sign Jamaal Williams, as the team’s management has expressed. However, they could significantly bolster their backfield with the selection of Texas standout Bijan Robinson, given the opportunity. Although it is a deep class of running backs, Robinson has shown to stand out from the rest, with a pro comparison to Saquon Barkley. Robinson’s playing style, versatile skill set, and ability to break tackles are reminiscent of Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. He is interested in training with Barkley during the offseason, and his potential value in the draft could place him within reach of the Lions’ No. 18 overall pick.

Bijan Robinson Barry Sanders Detroit Lions

Key Points

  • The Detroit Lions may not need a running back if they re-sign Jamaal Williams.
  • However, Bijan Robinson could significantly improve the backfield.
  • Robinson is versatile and comparable to Saquon Barkley.
  • He has a playing style reminiscent of Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
  • Robinson could potentially be available with the Lions’ No. 18 overall pick.

Bijan Robinson is trying to emulate Barry Sanders

During an interview at the 2023 NFL Draft Combine, Robinson said that he spends hours watching highlights of Barry, as he hopes to emulate him on the field.

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“I watch him probably every other day because I'm always trying to mimic his moves,” Robinson said. “He was so good at doing the things you couldn't do. He was just the guy where every single time he touched the ball, you were just standing up trying to see what he would do. There would be some games on YouTube, some full games back in those times, and I would watch them all, just to see every single run that he did. I mean, he was just the most exciting player I've seen on a highlight tape.”

“For me, I'm a knee-bender when I run the ball,” Robinson said. “Another guy that was a knee-bender was Barry Sanders. To try to redirect and be as low to the ground as you can, and understand you've got to feel defenders and read their shoulders and read angles to break as many tackles as you can to try to get north and south. For me, I take pride in that. I do so many drills with my coach back at Texas, coach (Tashard) Choice. He really implements that a lot in all of our drills. Sometimes, they're really tough, but in the games, they really pay off a lot.”

The Big Picture: Running back value in the NFL draft

The potential value of selecting Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft could significantly improve the Lions’ backfield. With the declining value of the running back position in recent years, Robinson’s projected draft spot may fall within reach of the Lions’ No. 18 overall pick. This could give the Lions a valuable opportunity to improve their backfield with a standout running back.

Bijan Robinson By the Numbers

Robinson made 104 tacklers miss on his 295 carries in 2022, the most in college football last season.

  • Robinson averaged 4.4 yards after contact throughout his three-year college career.
  • Robinson caught 60 passes for 805 yards and eight touchdowns during his time at Texas.
  • Robinson had 41 total touchdowns during his time at Texas.

The Bottom Line – The Lions Could Have a Chance to Land a Future Star

With the potential selection of Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions could significantly improve their backfield with a standout running back. Robinson’s impressive statistics, versatility, and comparisons to Saquon Barkley and Barry Sanders make him a promising prospect for the Lions. If Robinson falls within reach of the Lions’ No. 18 overall pick, it could be a valuable opportunity to land a future star and improve their overall performance.

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