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5 things to know about Brian Robinson Jr.

5THINGSBROB

The Washington Commanders added to their backfield by taking Alabama running back Bria Robinson with the No. 98 overall pick. Here are five things you need to know about the former member of the Crimson Tide, presented by Grubhub.

1. He wants to be a versatile back for the Commanders.

Robinson comes to the Commanders standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 225 pounds, and it's clear to him what kind of role he'll be playing during his rookie season.

"I really just see my role is just coming in and being a contributor to short yardage situations, or first and second down situations," Robinson said after he was drafted. "Just where I can always be effective and get positive yards and just keep the chains moving."

Being physical is something Robinson chooses to be, but there's more he can add with his style. He can pick up blitzes in the passing game, and he can be elusive when the situation calls for it. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked seventh in runs of at least 15 yards. He also ranks in the 85th percentile in terms of speed among his fellow running backs.

All that certainly adds to what Robinson can offer, but he's still a bruiser at his core. It's what pushed him to rush for 1,343 yards last season, which ranked second in the SEC.

"I can be a versatile player if the team needs me to, but more so than anything I try to be downhill and put my size and my force on."

2. Defenders have a tough time bringing him down.

Good luck trying to tackle Robinson, because the likelihood is that the only people who will be on the ground are the defenders.

There was nobody better than Robinson in the SEC at missing tackles in 2021, and it wasn't even close. Robinson forced 79 missed tackles as he rumbled downfield for the Crimson Tide. The next-closest player was Missouri's Tyler Badie, who had 57.

And just to show how impressive that is, consider this: that was three more than Derrick Henry (76) and eight more than Najee Harris (71), giving him the most missed tackles in a single season for Alabama since 2014.

"You watch him and just the way he handles himself and plays the game," said Ron Rivera. "It's a very physical style."

Robinson said he thinks he'll be used heavily in short-yardage situations with the Commanders. That skill of making defenders miss should be valuable in those situations.

3. He became a standout for Alabama after waiting his turn to be a starter.

It can be difficult to wait your turn at Alabama, mostly because there's a list of talented players in front of you, some of which will likely be first-round picks.

That was the situation Robinson had to deal with in the first four years of his college career, as he watched Damien Harris and Najee Harris carry the load. It was a challenge, Robinson admitted, but he understood the situation.

"I was playing next to a lot of talented guys," Robinson said. "Just seeing those guys, kind of develop also and take their talent to the next level, just kind of made me appreciate being in the room with those guys and competing with those guys every year and just having to stick it out and be patient."

Robinson knew the wait would pay off, and he was right. He finished 10th in career touchdowns and 11th in career rushing yards in program history. He earned second team All-SEC honors from The Associated Press, and he was selected as a Reese's Senior Bowl All-American.

Robinson's patience was tested again during the draft, when he waited until the third round to be taken by the Commanders. And just like waiting his turn in the backfield, he believes it will pay off.

"It just feels amazing right now," Robinson said. "I just don't know how to explain."

4. His comparisons range from Eddie Lacy to Chris Carson.

PFF’s Kevin Cole said Robinson checks off the boxes for being an NFL running back, and there's a wide range of comparison for the news member of the Commanders' backfield.

In terms of numbers from their height, weight and other measurables, Robinson's closest comparisons are Eddie Lacy -- another Alabama alum -- and Boise State's Doug Martin. Based on rookie performances, it's good company to be in, as Martin rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Lacy rushed for 1,100 yards and 11 scores.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein has another comparison: Seattle's Chris Carson, who didn't have a standout rookie year but did get back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019.

"He is a linear runner who is likely to be utilized as a complementary bulldozer to help wear down defenses, but Robinson might have more potential from sideline to sideline than he receives credit for," Zierlein wrote.

Robinson will be a rotational back for the Commanders, at least in his rookie season, but if he can be at least similar to those players in terms of production, Washington's backfield will improve dramatically.

5. He can come in for Antonio Gibson in relief when needed.

On that note, Antonio Gibson carried much of the load when J.D. McKissic suffered his injury against the Seahawks. Gibson can handle the responsibility, but it was clear the Commanders needed more from their backup running backs.

Rivera believes Robinson is the answer to that.

"Well, when you watch him in a style of running you always notice that the ball is high and tight, and he does a nice job with that," Rivera said. "He's got long arms, so wrapping the ball also is an easier thing for him because of his size. I mean, young man, 6-2, he's a good sized running back."

Now, the Commanders have two distinct styles. Robinson brings a level of physicality, while Gibson has more of a slasher style.

"I've been fortunate that I've had a couple of combinations of really good running backs," Rivera said. "I see this giving us another combination of really good running backs, and then you throw J.D. into the mix and you're really gonna get a change up."

The Commanders' four-game win streak was fueled by their ability to run the ball. The hope is that with Robinson in the group, they can repeat some of that success.

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