The top running back in this year’s NFL Draft is Bijan Robinson. The former Texas Longhorn ballcarrier will be a first-round pick.
Robinson’s former running mate, Roschon Johnson, will be drafted a bit later on, but perhaps not too much later. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him ranked 91st overall in his official top-100 big board.
As it happens, the Cincinnati Bengals have the 92nd pick in the Draft. The fit is almost too perfect. Cincinnati will be looking for a running back to pair with Joe Mixon, or replace him altogether this month. Johnson not only has the size at 6-0, 219 to get the job done in the AFC North, he comes into the league with plenty of tread still left on the tire.
He only rushed the ball 392 times in four years, and just turned 22 years old. From a statistical standpoint, Johnson fits as a likely target for the Bengals in the third or fourth round.
What also can’t be discounted is how much value the Bengals put in character. They’ve consistently brought in players who are all about football and would fit in perfectly with the culture head coach Zac Taylor has established within the locker room.
In Brugler’s NFL Draft guide for The Athletic, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian gave Johnson extreme praise for his character.
“What this guy brings every single day is incredible. He’s so mature. Unbelievable work ethic. Awesome teammate…he’s got the utmost respect out of everyone in our building that’s for sure.” – Sarkisian on Johnson
Johnson’s production at Texas was stunted due to the presence of Robinson. The latter carried the ball over 500 times in just three seasons. This forced Robinson, a former quarterback, to handle duties as both a pass-protector and run blocker in the Longhorns’ 21 personnel packages.
His willingness to do the dirty work surely caught the eyes of NFL evaluators, and that just speaks to what his character is.
A lack of production usually comes with context, and the context surrounding Robinson is entirely positive.
His intangibles are what’s likely rising him up draft boards and place him firmly in the conversation to go off the board in the third round. Of all the running back-needy teams, the Bengals seem to make the most sense for Robinson in that juncture.