Atlanta Falcons’ 90-man roster analysis: Running backs

Editor’s note: This is the first of an eight-part position-by-position series analyzing the Falcons’ roster before they report for training camp July 25.


Falcons running back Bijan Robinson almost drowned in his youth, and that has helped to shape his outlook as he’s about to enter his first season in the NFL.

“Me, as a kid, I almost drowned,” Robinson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Wednesday. “I was 5 years old. I was young, and I didn’t know how to swim.”

Robinson, a native of Tucson, Arizona, was saved from drowning, and he later learned to swim.

“I actually did take a class at the (YMCA), I think it was a year after,” Robinson recalled. “I took a class there, and a year and a half later I learned how to swim.”

That explained why Robinson was authentic when working with kids from the YMCA of Metro Atlanta at the Camp MBUSA. He put a lot of energy into some of the stations, but was all-in when teaching children how to use their life jackets.

“Obviously, every part of it was super fun,” Robinson said. “These kids (benefitted from) from every single station that is out here, but I think that kids love to swim. Me, as a kid, I almost drowned. Letting them know it’s important to have a life jacket is really important, and they need to know that rule.”

The Falcons went against recent history and selected Robinson with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft in April. Robinson, who starred at Texas, signed a four-year, $21.9 million fully guaranteed contract with the Falcons on May 12.

He’s been back in Austin, Texas, preparing for training camp.

“I’ve been training a lot, trying to stay in shape and keep my body right,” Robinson said. “Then just still be in the playbook and get that down to a T. Then hopefully, when camp starts, everything will be rolling.”

Robinson took part in the rookie minicamp, OTAs and the mandatory minicamp before the summer break.

“We were rolling in OTAs, so now keep that up and understand what we are doing going into the season and what we are trying to do as a team,” Robinson said. “That’s what I’ve been doing during this little break that we’ve had.”

The Falcons moved Robinson all around the offense during the open OTA sessions.

“For OTAs, I had a lot of fun,” Robinson said. “I was able to be with my teammates and see how supportive they were of me and how supportive I am of all of them. It’s really comforting to really have that.”

Robinson believes he blended in well with his new teammates.

“I see this team doing some special things because of what they are bringing in,” Robinson said. “Not just the talent, but the players and the people and who they are. That really does play into a successful team. I’m excited. I really can’t wait to get it going this season.”

Falcons running backs coach Michael Pitre will oversee Robinson’s transition into the NFL.

“The biggest thing that has jumped out to me is how receptive he is to coaching,” Pitre said. “He takes everything in. He wants to get better. He wants to be great.”

Robinson said the Falcons haven’t had a voluntary passing camp. He spent his time working out at the Kollective with Tim Riley and Mo Wells in Austin, Texas.

“It’s been Micah Parsons, Ja’Marr Chase and just a lot of different NFL players,” Robinson said. “We’re the three (Robinson, Parsons and Chase) that work out a lot and (former Texas running back Roschon Johnson). We’ve been getting it in.”

Robinson was drafted earlier than any running back since the Giants took Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018.

He’s been compared with Barkley, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk. Some have even uttered the words “Barry Sanders.” Robinson wants to be his own player, and if he comes close to any of those running backs, the Falcons will have made a shrewd selection.

Robinson, who was called a “home run hitter” by coach Arthur Smith, was an unanimous All-American in 2021 and winner of the 2022 Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back.

He played in 31 games for the Longhorns and made 28 starts. He finished ranked fourth in Texas history with 3,420 yards rushing and 41 total touchdowns (33 rushing and eight receiving).

With training camp approaching, Robinson was relaxed when discussing how he plays to deal with the expectations for his much-anticipated rookie season.

“For me, I don’t pay attention to expectations,” Robinson said. “I know a few … expect a lot out of me. That just comes with the game, but for me my only expectations is to please God. That’s that with me.”

The Falcons have embraced Robinson.

“From Tyler (Allgeier) to Keith Smith to Grady Jarrett, who’s been good for me,” Robinson said. “Just having him as a vet and him really understanding and telling me how the game is as a rookie.”

In training camp, the Falcons will be forced to sort things out at running back. Allgeier rushed for a thousand yards last season as a rookie.

“It’s just competition,” Allgeier said. “That’s the name of this game. Competition. I’m excited for him to come in and see what’s up.”

The Falcons can decide to use Cordarrelle Patterson more at wide receiver. Also, Caleb Huntley is attempting to comeback from Achilles surgery. The Falcons also have Carlos Washington Jr., a running back, and Clint Ratkovich, a fullback, on the 90-man roster.

“We’ve got a versatile group, the same way that I feel about the tight end group and the receiver group,” Smith said. “Very pleased. Really, we can label them certain positions, but you look at it as a collective.”

However this professional football thing goes for Robinson, he wants to be a actor when he’s done. He’s taken acting classes at Texas.

He is closely watching the potential actors strike as they appear set to join the writers. He also knows of some of the production companies in Atlanta and Georgia.

“Obviously, Tyler Perry’s studios and then Marvel studios,” Robinson said. “Marvel is my favorite movie series of all time. I really want to see that and really be a part of that maybe one day. I have a lot of different things about (the movie industry) and that so many things have been filmed (in Georgia).”

Since he was saved and learned how to swim, all of these things are possible for Robinson.

“My grandpa went every single day to the YMCA to work out and steam,” Robinson said. “I used to go with him, work out and just enjoy it there. I’ve always been connected with the Y ever since I was a kid.”

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) participates in a drill during minicamp at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

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Credit: Jason Getz /

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith speaks to Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) during OTAs at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Ga.
 Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ 90-man roster analysis:

Part 1: Running backs

Part 2: Offensive line

Part 3: Wide receivers/tight ends

Part 4: Defensive line

Part 5: Linebackers

Part 6: Secondary

Part 7: Special teams

Part 8: Quarterbacks

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier discusses rookie season, in which he broke a team record.

The AJC’s projected depth chart


QB – Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside, Austin Aune

RB – Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson, *Caleb Huntley, Carlos Washington Jr.

FB – Keith Smith, Clint Ratkovich

WR – Drake London, KhaDarel Hodge, Frank Darby, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Chris Blair

TE – *Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Parker Hesse, Feleipe Franks, *John FitzPatrick, Tucker Fisk

LT – Jake Matthews, Barry Wesley

LG – Kyle Hinton, Matt Hennessy, *Jalen Mayfield, *Justin Shaffer, Matthew Bergeron

C – Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil, Jonotthan Harrison, Jovaughn Gwyn

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Jovaughn Gwyn

RT – Kaleb McGary, Tyler Vrabel, Joshua Miles, Ethan Greenidge

WR – Mack Hollins, Scotty Miller, Slade Bolden, Josh Ali, Keilahn Harris, Xavier Malone


OLB – Lorenzo Carter, Bud Dupree, DeAngelo Malone

DE – Grady Jarrett, Timothy Horne, LeCale London

NT – Eddie Goldman, *Ta’Quon Graham, Carlos Davis

DE – David Onyemata, Joe Gaziano, Ikenna Enechukwu, Albert Huggins

OLB – Calais Campbell, Ade Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie, Zach Harrison

ILB – Kaden Elliss, Dorian Etheridge, Tae Davis, Andre Smith Jr.

ILB – Troy Andersen, Mykal Walker, Nate Landman, Mike Jones Jr.

CB – A.J. Terrell, Mike Hughes, Clark Phillips III, Breon Borders, Natrone Brooks

FS – Jessie Bates III, Jaylinn Hawkins, Micah Abernathy, Lukas Denis

SS – Richie Grant, DeMarcco Hellams, Clifford Chattman

CB – Jeff Okudah, Cornell Armstrong, Tre Flowers, Dee Alford, Darren Hall

NB – Mike Hughes, Clark Phillips III


K – Younghoe Koo, Matthew Trickett

P/H – Bradley Pinion

LS – Liam McCullough

PR – Mike Hughes, Dee Alford, Penny Hart and Josh Ali.

KOR – Cordarrelle Patterson

Note: Players who ended the season on injured reserve have an asterisk.