No one would’ve blamed Tyler Allgeier if he had been miffed by the Falcons drafting Bijan Robinson No. 8 overall in April. Allgeier, a fifth-round pick in 2022, surpassed expectations with a thousand-yard rookie campaign. His 1,035 rushing yards set a franchise rookie record.
Yet his team not only drafted another running back, it took one earlier than most even value the position. And a special player, at that. Robinson was considered the best running-back prospect since at least Saquon Barkley in 2018. He’s deemed a future All-Pro, maybe even a Hall of Fame-type talent.
He’s also versatile, which creates easy avenues for playing him and Allgeier together. Speaking with reporters last week, Allgeier continued to praise Robinson as a player and person. If he was even the slightest bit annoyed by the selection, he hasn’t showed publicly. He has praised Robinson – and the Falcons’ front office – at every turn since the draft.
“Not only is (Robinson) a good player on the field, but obviously having a good relationship off the field is always great,” Allgeier said. “We’ve bonded pretty well. It’s been good.”
Allgeier has impressed with his maturity since arriving at Flowery Branch, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise he’s embraced Robinson. But the promise he still will be heavily involved matters most. Robinson wasn’t acquired to replace Allgeier. He was acquired to join him.
The Falcons will move Robinson around. He already has worked as a receiver – and impressed – at OTAs. Robinson’s college coach, Texas’ Steve Sarkisian, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in April that he had the best hands on the Longhorns.
Sarkisian described Robinson as a blend of Barry Sanders and Reggie Bush. Allgeier, meanwhile, is more your typical angry runner, ready to bulldoze anything in his way. The duo, in theory, should complement each other extremely well.
“Tyler, that boy is a dog at running back,” Robinson said during his introductory press conference. “I really can’t wait to talk to him and learn from him, build a relationship with him just because that dude’s a beast. I really enjoyed watching him run the ball last year and hopefully, I can just be a great teammate and learn as much as I can from him.”
Think about this: Robinson and the offense have been lighting up an opposing defense for three quarters. With that defense tired, here comes a heavy dose of Allgeier to further wear down the unit and keep the clock running. Tackling Allgeier is exhausting enough without having been taxed for three quarters beforehand.
Allgeier also is there for those third-and-1s, fourth-and-1s at midfield. He’s there for those pesky goal-to-go situations if the Falcons want his violent, powerful running in that situation (certainly, investing in Robinson as they did, he’ll be relied upon heavily in those situations as well).
“We should do some great things,” Allgeier said.
The Falcons averaged 159.9 rushing yards per game a season ago (No. 3 in NFL). Coach Arthur Smith is known for scheming effective rushing attacks. If there’s any team that could find how to best use the Robinson-Allgeier tandem – plus some Cordarrelle Patterson and Caleb Huntley – it’s probably this one.
“We have a plan for them all,” Smith said last week. “We don’t just throw darts at the draft board and not have a plan. That’s not fair to the players if they come in here and if you’re going to invest heavy early or in free agency if you don’t have a plan. We’ve got a versatile group, the same way that I feel about the tight end group and the receiver group. Very pleased.
“Really, we can label them certain positions, but you look at it as a collective; it’s a very unique and talented skill group. What I’m basically saying is if you combine the receivers, tight ends and backs in that room.”
Training camp opens late next month. The Falcons will have a better idea of their team during those weeks. But they rightfully feel confident in unproven quarterback Desmond Ridder’s supporting cast. And they should feel giddy about their run game.
Allgeier will be an important part of that.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “I can’t wait for the pads to come on so we can see what we can do. I believe in us, so it should be fun.”