Where Bijan Robinson is selected in the 2023 NFL Draft will be one of Day 1's most intriguing storylines. Arguably one of the top-five players in the draft, no running back has been selected in the top 20 of the NFL Draft since Saquon Barkley in 2018.
Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes believes that's going to change this year. Holmes didn't rule out the Lions potentially selecting Robinson at No. 6 overall, one of two first-round picks in the draft for Detroit (Lions have the No. 18 pick as well).
"If you think the player is that good and he's out there producing for you, I don't think anyone is gonna look back and say -- I don't think anybody said in 2016 or '17 or '18, 'Oh man Todd Gurley was picked at (No. 10).'
"He was just a really good running back and he was one of the top prospects in the draft. We didn't really bat an eye about it."
Holmes was in the Los Angeles Rams' front office when they selected Gurley 10th overall in 2015. While Gurley was out of the league at 27 years old, he was arguably the best running back in football before injuries started to plague him. Taking over the league when Sean McVay became the head coach of the Rams, Gurley rushed for 2,556 yards and 30 touchdowns in the 2017 and 2018 seasons -- as the Rams won two NFC West titles and advanced to Super Bowl LIII. Gurley also had 123 catches for 1,368 yards and 10 touchdowns during that stretch.
Gurley's decline started near the end of the 2018 season and spiraled immediately after -- as the knee issues played a role in his production being diminished. Of the 10 running backs with 400-plus carries from the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Gurley was last in yards per carry (3.67) and rushing yards (1,535). Yet, he was fourth in rushing touchdowns (21) during that span.
Gurley had three 1,000-yard seasons, two first-team All-Pro Selections, three Pro Bowls, and an Offensive Player of the Year award. He led the league in rushing touchdowns and scrimmage touchdowns twice -- and yards from scrimmage once. Yet, Gurley was out of football after just six seasons.
The Rams only had Gurley for five of those years, but got significant production for a few seasons. Gurley wasn't a bad pick, but he didn't last long in the league.
Will Robinson suffer the same fate? The longevity doesn't seem to matter for Holmes.
"They're all football players," Holmes said. "If they can help you, they can help you."