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Is Texas RB Bijan Robinson a first-round target for the Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys have been linked to University of Texas running back Bijan Robinson ahead of the NFL Draft but would they use a first round pick on another RB?

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys have a long history of featuring great running backs, from Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith to the recently released Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas is a team that prides itself on having a superior ground game with a top flight runner, which is probably why the team has been linked to University of Texas RB Bijan Robinson at the upcoming NFL draft.

Robinson is the consensus premiere prospect at the position and he has all the traits required to be an All-Pro RB. With speed, power, vision, cutting ability, and the ease to catch the ball out of the backfield, Robinson has the markers of one of the best running back prospects to come out of the draft in years.

However, there are simple reasons for the Cowboys to bypass Robinson’s position early in the draft. Running backs are one of the easiest places to find production at a low cost and the demands of the position means it has a short shelf life. 

Getting five or six good years from a running back is now considered the max for even the best runners before injuries and wear and tear decrease their value. Because of those factors, teams around the league are no longer shelling out big contracts or using major draft resources at an increasingly impermanent position.

Robinson could be the exception to that rule, however, but the Cowboys learned their lesson with Elliott. Or at least they should have. As good as an RB is, they generally aren’t worth paying top dollars to by the time they’re eligible for an extension. Good teams want to get the most out of their investment with a second contract and those are becoming more of a rarity for RBs.

This is how the NFL operates these days, and the proof is in how teams are winning. Recent Super Bowl winning teams opted for cheap labor at the running back position.

Yet here are the Cowboys and their love affair with franchise RBs, projected to be interested in selecting Robinson, or another runner, early in the draft. It would be an odd choice to grab one early, especially considering they already have one of the game’s best at the position in veteran fourth-round selection Tony Pollard. There’s also considerable depth at RB in this class, so a good back could be found on Day 2 or 3. 

However, those items haven't stopped Dallas’ front office from talking highly of Robinson, stoking the flames of speculation. Stephen Jones was enthusiastic about Robinson during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan where he mentioned the expectation that Robinson will be drafted in the first round. 

Reading the tea leaves it’s easy to understand why the Cowboys would have to think long and hard about picking Robinson if he were available at their first round selection at pick No. 26. But it’s not just Jones who possibly covets having Robinson in the backfield, starting quarterback Dak Prescott was effusive in his praise for the Texas runner.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and the Cowboys have been extremely complimentary about Robinson when asked recently. Looking around, it’s also easy to find a mock draft that has Dallas selecting Robinson, and some have suggested that the team could even trade up for the opportunity to select the generational RB.

There’s no doubting the skills, Robinson is a phenomenal player, perhaps a top five player in this draft overall based on talent. Robinson is fresh off a junior season for Texas where ran for 1,580 and 18 scores which helped him bring home the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best runner while also garnering unanimous All-American selection in 2022.

Drafting Robinson wouldn’t be a bad move as selecting the best players rarely goes wrong. However, with the trend of running backs being a less valued position, and with the Cowboys already paying top dollar for starting RB Pollard, it doesn’t feel like taking Robinson in the first round would be the best use of their resources in 2023.

Bucking trends has never been a problem for the Cowboys before, and it likely won’t stop them from doing so again if they decided that Robinson is their man. The team marches to their own beat, and that beat right now sounds like the name Bijan Robinson has a nice ring to it in Dallas.

The decision makers seem enamored with Robinson, and so too does their franchise quarterback. Perhaps the Cowboys are giving us the answer as to who they’ll take later this month at the draft. Or maybe the team is just playing the pre-draft game. 

Either way, if Robinson is available when the Cowboys are on the clock in the first round, no one should be shocked if he’s the pick. That much is clear.

Do you think the Cowboys should use their first pick to take Bijan Robinson? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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