Mel Kiper has Cowboys taking Texas running back Bijan Robinson in latest mock draft


For the Cowboys, this feels like the end of an era, with uncertainty surrounding their backfield tandem of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Despite a productive year with 12 touchdowns, Elliott could be a cap casualty this offseason (though he may be amenable to a pay cut) while Pollard’s impending free agency is complicated by a broken leg suffered in Sunday’s Divisional Round loss to San Francisco.

With no obvious in-house replacement, it stands to reason the Cowboys would address running back in the upcoming NFL Draft, perhaps as early as the first round. In his latest mock draft for ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. had Dallas selecting Texas standout Bijan Robinson with the 26th overall pick, immediately replenishing a backfield that could look drastically different in 2023.

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This year’s Doak Walker recipient, awarded annually to the nation’s top running back, Robinson finished his Longhorns tenure with the fourth-most rushing yards in school history behind only Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Earl Campbell. Powerfully built at 6'0," 220 pounds, Robinson cemented his status as a likely first-round selection with a monster 2022, bidding farewell to Austin with 1,580 rushing yards, sixth-most in FBS and third among Power Five ball-carriers. He also contributed 20 touchdowns (18 rushing, two receiving) while chugging forward at a clip of 6.1 yards per carry.

“I’m a big fan,” Kiper says of Robinson, who he ranks as the draft’s top running back and eighth overall prospect. “He is a cut-and-go runner with outstanding vision and explosiveness.” Kiper was also complementary of Robinson’s pass-catching, suggesting his receiving skills were underutilized at Texas. Robinson, who turns 21 later this month, has all the traits of an every-down workhorse with a chance to be an immediate NFL difference-maker. Who knows if that’s with Dallas or another team, though it’s an interesting hypothetical to ponder with Zeke and Pollard potentially headed elsewhere this offseason.

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