Bijan Robinson is the top running back in this year’s draft class, and it turns out he has a Lions’ fan-like obsession with Barry Sanders highlights.
Bijan Robinson was college football’s best running back last season, and he’s bucking the recent trend of the position being devalued as a sure-fire first-round pick in this year’s draft. It’s just a matter of where and to whom he goes, with a faint idea the Detroit Lions could grab him with the 18th overall pick if he’s there.
By the time Robinson was born, on Jan. 30, 2002, Barry Sanders had been retired for three seasons. But thanks to technology, young players can match historical names they hear with what they did on the field. We all know Sanders highlight clips are numerous, to say the least, and out there in mass proportions.
Robinson spoke at the NFL Combine on Saturday morning, and he admitted what sounds like a borderline obsession with Sanders’ highlights.
Bijan Robinson seems to have a Lions’ fan-like obsession with Barry Sanders highlights
Here’s what Robinson said about watching Sanders’ highlights, via Kyle Meinke of MLive:
"I watch him probably every other day,” “I’m always trying to mimic his moves. 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."
Now if Robinson were a true, hardcore Lions fan, he’d watch Sanders highlights every day, not merely every other day, right?
Robinson (6-foot, 220 pounds, pending offical Combine measurements) is a bigger back than Sanders’ was. But he has makes tacklers look bad just like the Lions’ great did (1,017 yards after contact last season), with a rare combo of balance, power and speed.
The Lions have a sneaky long-term need at running back, with Jamaal Williams a free agent and D’Andre Swift entering the final year of his contract. The last running back they used a top-20 overall pick on, as they’d have to do with Robinson, was of course Sanders (third overall in 1989).