The Houston Texans are in the midst of a deep rebuild with the need to add more blue-chip talent to the roster.
Historically, the running back position over the last ten years has slowly been devalued. So much so, that high-end obvious star college running backs have fallen out of the top ten and first-round all together. If Bijan Robinson were born 15 years earlier, he would be a no doubt top five pick. That's not the case anymore.
However, there's still a very real possibility that his talent alone; a talent that many would say is in the same category as the likes of Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley, could land him in the top ten. Some mock drafts have him slotted as high as the Raiders, others as low as the Cowboys. Personally, I don't think he makes it past the Eagles at number ten.
For the sake of argument, however; let's say he is available to the Texans at 12, does he make sense with this roster? In short, absolutely. The Texans need more blue-chip talent. Bijan is that.
Look, I get it. Dameon Pierce was the lone bright spot on an offense that was not worth watching last year. He also may be Nick Caserio's best draft pick from that class, too. That being said, Pierce's run style has led to injuries already in his short pro career. That, coupled with the fact that he never started in college, raises some questions. Some running backs have had great starts to their careers and fell off immediately after; look at James Robinson as an example.
Instead of looking at Pierce's hypothetical shortcomings, what if we imagine a backfield where Bijan is the featured back and Pierce is the hammer back or 'closer' back? No matter who the Texans take at number two, drafting Bijan at 12 gives the Texans a true identity. No matter who the quarterback is for the next four years in Houston, he will be handing it off 20-30 times a game to a top three rushing attack year in and year out.
I also understand not wanting to spend money or high draft capital on a running back, but Pierce and Robinson will be on rookie deals for the next four years. After that, then we can discuss if paying up is a good option. Though the likes of Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Kenneth Walker, Joe Mixon and many others were second-round picks, the history of first-round running backs is even better.
As for understanding the impact of an elite running back, has many have labeled Bijan, let's take a look at the San Francisco 49ers last season; an organization whom we can assume the Texans will model themselves after with the hiring of former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and new offensive coordinator, former passing game coordinator, Bobby Slowik. Prior to trading for Christian McCaffery, the Niners were 3-4. After, they were 13-1 including playoffs. In his 11 regular season games, McCaffery had 1,210 total yards and 11 total touchdowns.
Brock Purdy in nine games threw 13 touchdowns to four interceptions, for a total of 1,374 yards. Those numbers adjusted for a full 17-game season, 19 touchdowns and just over 2,100 passing yards. Do those numbers look like a quarterback carrying a franchise or a game manager?
I am not saying Robinson and McCaffery are the same or projecting the exact impact he could make for Houston, but rather the impact an elite running back has on a team when they make them the focal point of an offense.
Lastly, having Dameon Pierce taking 40% of the carries on Sundays alleviates the injury fears that many have since seeing high-drafted backs get hurt from over usage. The Texans could have two top-ten running backs at a fraction of the cost of the veteran running backs.
The Houston Texans need to add the best players available and Bijan is regarded by Draft Network, NFL.com analysts, PFF, and other sites as a top-five overall talent in this year's draft at a position that has a relatively low learning curve from college to NFL. Adding Bijan makes the Texans immediately better now, and for the next five years. Drafting the best player available is the best strategy when you have a roster without elite talent or identity.