Bijan Robinson Offers Eye-Opening Praise for Lions Legend Barry Sanders

Bijan Robinson

Getty Bijan Robinson speaks during the 2023 NFL combine.

The Detroit Lions have one of the true legends in the NFL on their side in Barry Sanders, and he’s a runner that lots of young players have tried to immolate through the years.

Sanders, with his jukes and spin moves, was pure football theater for a decade. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that lots of backs watch his tape closely, trying to ponder how to re-create those type of moves.

Bijan Robinson, the top running back prospect in the draft, is one such player. Like many fans, Robinson watches Sanders’ tape in awe, and also pays attention to the moves, trying to re-create them on his own while on the field. Additionally, though, he seems to have a very deep respect for Sanders.

Speaking at the NFL combine on Saturday, March 4, Robinson was asked what running back he watched closest and Sanders was the answer. He took the analysis a step further, though, as Luke Sawhook showed in a clip on Twitter.

“I watch him probably every other day because I am always trying to mimic his moves. He was so good at doing the things you couldn’t do. He was a guy where every single time he touched the ball, you were standing up trying to see what he was going to do. There’s some full games on YouTube. I would watch them all just to see every single run that he did. He was the most exciting player I’ve seen on the highlight tape. If God could bless me to be at that caliber one day, that would be amazing,” Robinson said as shown in Sawhook’s clip.

Robinson isn’t the first running back to praise Sanders, of course, but the thoughtful way he did it is certainly eye-opening. Not only does Robinson try to re-create some of the moves, but he has reverence for Sanders and his standing in the game.

That’s impressive stuff for a young running back, and notable for the Lions, who could be in need of one in this draft.

Lions Have Decision to Make With Bijan Robinson

All of his praise for Sanders aside, the Lions seem like they will have a decision to make about Robinson in the impending draft regarding his potential fit with the team.

The runner is seen as the top prospect at his position in the draft. He could be on the board for both of Detroit’s first-round selections, and he could be a player the Lions look closely at given their needs at running back for the future. Already, some have mocked him to Detroit even in spite of the team’s defensive needs.

Detroit is likely to bring back Jamaal Williams, and it seems they are ready to run it back with D’Andre Swift next season as well. With all of that said, the backfield could have questions beyond 2024. That could be where Robinson enters the mix for a team like the Lions, who could stash him and then unleash him.

Is Robinson a can’t-miss star at the position? The league has moved away from players like Walter Payton and Sanders who carry teams completely, but the chance does exist for someone to break the mold. Already, Robinson seems motivated to be that kind of player.

The Lions will have to decide if Robinson can be that guy. If he is, the team may need to think about selecting him and betting on his talent in addition to his love of Sanders.

Bijan Robinson’s College Stats & Highlights

There’s no question that Robinson offers the NFL plenty himself, especially given what he’s been able to do while playing for Texas in college.

Robinson was arguably the top running back in the 2022 season, posting a solid 1,580 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also has caught 19 passes for 314 yards and two scores, and had several electric plays to his credit.

As a whole, Robinson has totaled 3,410 yards and 60 touchdowns on the ground in college. That’s to go with 805 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his career catching the ball. It’s clear he is a diverse weapon capable of stretching out a defense.

Robinson has been seen as a potential first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and he’s a player who’s talent could lead him to be selected within the first half of the draft this year, potentially even by Sanders’ former team in Detroit.

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