2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Brian Robinson Jr. (Fantasy Football)

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Alabama running backs have been a fixture in the NFL over the last five seasons. Names like Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris and Najee Harris have been fantasy superstars for our lineups over the last several years. Bama’s Brian Robinson will look to make the jump into the NFL, but is he capable of being the next Crimson Tide RB we covet so highly in fantasy football? Let’s take a deep dive into Robinson’s college production profile, his Combine measurables and then break down what’s on film before laying out how Robinson might translate to the NFL for our fantasy rosters.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.

College Production

Year Games Attempts Rushing Yards Yards/Att TD Receptions Receiving Yards
2017 6 24 165 6.9 2 0 0
2018 9 63 272 4.3 2 0 0
2019 13 96 441 4.6 5 11 124
2020 13 91 483 5.3 6 6 26
2021 14 271 1343 5.0 14 35 296

Coming out of high school, Brian Robinson was a top-100 recruit and labeled as a 4-star prospect. He played his high school ball in Tuscaloosa and decided to stay home to play for Nick Saban’s RB factory that is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the table above, Robinson was buried on the depth chart early in his college career. With some of the names I listed at the top of the article still on the roster, it’s not difficult to understand why.

Of course, we want our NFL prospects for fantasy purposes to do two things: produce early in their college career and declare early for the NFL. Unfortunately, Robinson doesn’t check either of those two boxes, as he spent five seasons on Bama’s campus. Not surprisingly, Robinson’s 22.5 breakout age is the worst among all running backs we have listed in the Dynasty Pass Rookie Production Profiles.

When he finally did get his opportunity to operate as Nick Saban’s lead back, however, Robinson thrived, running for over 1,300 yards and contributing a respectable 300 yards in the receiving game. From a production standpoint, the fact that Robinson at least showed he can contribute in the passing game when given an opportunity, should help to bolster his profile a little bit. The Alabama RB also hit pay dirt a total of 16 times last year, and we know TD production does have some predictive success in identifying backs who can be successful for fantasy in the NFL. In 2021, Robinson Jr. earned first-team All-SEC honors, helping the Tide reach the National Championship game.

From an analytics perspective, Robinson’s profile is definitely lacking, which is why he’s not talked about with the top RBs in the class like Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker. However, when we add context that he had to play behind starting NFL RBs almost his entire career, it’s possible that Robinson’s profile would have looked much stronger had he played at another school.

Measurables

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Age Height Weight 40-Yard Dash Vertical Broad Jump
23.1 6’1″ 225 lbs. 4.53 seconds 30″ 119″

At 6’1″ and 225 lbs., Brian Robinson is built like an NFL RB. He definitely knows how to use his size and run with physicality. We’ll touch on that more down below when we look at Robinson’s tape. But, from a size standpoint, he certainly checks the box as a back who can hold up to a full workload. After all, he did touch the ball a total of 306 times a year ago in the SEC.

Robinson’s 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds is respectable, ranking in 69th percentile according to PlayerProfiler.com. But, as is the case with most things in rookie evaluation, context is important, so it’s important to adjust for size when talking about 40-yard dash times because the smaller, skinnier guys should be able to run faster than the bigger backs. When adjusting for size, Robinson’s 106.9-speed score ranks in the 85th percentile, proving he’s plenty fast at his size.

From a measurables standpoint, he’s got plenty of size and meets the thresholds we look for in speed score to suggest there are no major red flags here. Let’s check out his tape.

What’s on Tape

Games viewed: Miami (2021), Florida (2021), Texas A&M (2021), Georgia (2021), Arkansas (2021), Cincinnati (2021)

1. Strong, violent running style.

At 225 lbs., Robinson knows how to use his size and run behind his pads with physicality. This was particularly evident on short-yardage situations and on runs close to the goal line where he can win with power. Robinson also used his frame to break a ton of tackles a year ago. His 79 missed tackles forced was third-best among all backs in the country a season ago. He also logged the 9th most yards after contact according to PFF. To put it simply, he’s not the type of back to shy away from contact as seen in this clip below against Arkansas.

2. The ability to at least contribute as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

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By no means would I label Robinson as a “3rd down back” or a “pass-catching specialist” but he at least showed he’s capable out of the backfield on basic swing routes, screens, and dump-offs. He did struggle a bit in pass protection in the six-game sample I studied, so he’s likely to have a bit of a learning curve there as far as earning his way onto the field on third downs. However, he can certainly contribute in base packages if his number is called.

3. For a bigger back, Robinson flashed quickness in his footwork in tight areas.

B Rob isn’t the type of back who is going to make a defender whiff in a phone booth with violent cuts like Saquon Barkley used to do at Penn State, but he certainly isn’t just a straight-line, head-down type of runner. There were several plays on tape where Robinson used subtle quickness to change his angle and then accelerates to get upfield. This clip against Miami is a perfect example. The D-lineman has Robinson dead to rights in the backfield and Robinson uses some lateral agility to make him miss and turn a three-yard loss into a three-yard gain.

What’s Not on Tape

1. The ability to get east and west in a hurry.

Robinson doesn’t project at the type of back who is going to excel on sweeps and runs to the perimeter. His best plays on tape came when he was running north and south. Again, power and yards after contact are his game. Relying on him to beat perimeter linebackers or safeties to the edge is unlikely to be successful at the NFL level.

2. Fumbles or drops.

Robinson didn’t put many balls on the turf during his final season at Alabama, so not surprisingly, ball security issues didn’t show up on tape, which is obviously a good thing! Robinson didn’t register a single fumble a year ago and only dropped two balls on 38 targets in 2021.

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2022 Fantasy Outlook

Brian Robinson Jr. is a difficult prospect to evaluate from a fantasy standpoint. While he can contribute as a pass-catcher, that’s certainly not his calling card at the NFL level, so he’s likely to project as a 1st and 2nd down back early in his NFL career. Of course, in today’s PPR-friendly scoring formats, that matters a ton as it takes a lot of the ceiling out of his projection.

His production profile is lacking but again, most of this can be attributed to the insane talent on the depth chart year after year at college football’s powerhouse in Alabama. The bottom line for me is that when given the opportunity, Robinson was successful, so I’m not necessarily holding that against him a ton. That said, according to GrindingTheMocks.com, Robinson has an expected draft position of 94.7 as the RB5 off the board. He certainly won’t get 1st Round NFL Draft capital, and he’s unlikely to get 2nd Round Draft capital. Based on this expected draft position, Robinson has the possibility to be selected in the back half of the 3rd round, which would be huge for his dynasty outlook. We know draft capital matters for rookie evaluation, and the hit rate on RBs taken after Round 4 is quite bad.

If Robinson is fortunate enough to be selected on day two in the 2022 NFL Draft, he remains a worthy selection in the 2nd round of rookie drafts. However, if he slips into the 4th Round of the NFL Draft, we should certainly temper expectations for Robinson’s fantasy outlook. Prior to the NFL Draft, Robinson is the RB6 in our Rookie Rankings, just ahead of James Cook.

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