The Atlanta Falcons took an offensive skill position player in the first round for the third consecutive year by selecting running back Bijan Robinson with the eighth pick of the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Robinson was regarded as the top running back in the draft after rushing for 1,580 yards with 18 touchdowns for Texas last season. Robinson, clocked at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, provides power and speed to a Falcons offense which has emphasized the running game under coach Arthur Smith.

The Falcons leadership team of general manager Terry Fontenot and Smith also emphasized skill positions on offense in the first rounds of the past two drafts. Tight end Kyle Pitts was the No. 4 overall pick in 2021, and wide receiver Drake London was the 2022 first-round pick, when Atlanta also had the No. 8 pick.

The selection of a running back, even one regarded as highly as Robinson, is considered controversial in an era many teams wait much later in the draft to address the position.

Fontenot said this week the Falcons would not rule out guard or running back at the No. 8 spot, even if those positions are not popular so high in the draft.



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