Brian Robinson Jr.


Brian Robinson Jr.


Getty

Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr.

The Washington Commanders have a buzzy rookie quarterback, a bevy of free-agent signees who will be plug-and-play starters and respected veterans like wide receiver Terry McLaurin and defensive tackle Jonathan Allen to fill out their new-look roster.

The player who might end up being the team’s breakthrough superstar? That’s running back Brian Robinson Jr., who The Athletic’s Larry Holder praised in his breakdown of NFC running back groups on June 7.

Holder points out that Robinson plus the addition of free-agent running back Austin Ekeler could make for a formidable running back duo for the Commanders.

“Despite the addition of Austin Ekeler, the arrow still seems to point north for Brian Robinson Jr. as he heads into his third year — he averaged 4.1 yards per carry and scored nine total touchdowns (five rushing, four receiving) last season,” Holder wrote. “There’s no doubt, though, that Ekeler will garner plenty of attention given his prolific production with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021 and 2022.”


Robinson Jr. on the Verge of NFL Stardom

The Commanders selected Robinson in the third round (No. 98 overall) in the 2022 NFL draft after three seasons at Alabama where he won two College Football Playoff national championships and ran through 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with 296 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in 2021.

Robinson’s NFL career almost ended before it began after he was shot twice in the leg during an armed robbery attempt in Washington D.C. in Aug. 2022. Somehow he only missed 4 games and returned to rush for 797 yards in 12 games and was named Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year in 2022 and voted Washington’s Ed Block Courage Award winner.

In 2023, Robinson continued to up his game with 1,101 yards of total offense (733 rushing, 368 receiving) and 9 touchdowns — although the Commanders finished the season 4-13.

While Robinson has led the Commanders in rushing each of his first two seasons, the next leap will be passing the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a single season. Antonio Gibson had 1,037 rushing yards for Washington in 2021 but did so on 258 carries and only averaged 4.0 yards per rush.

The Commanders haven’t had a running back make the Pro Bowl since Alfred Morris in 2014 and haven’t had a running back earn NFL All-Pro honors since Brian Mitchell in 1995.


Help is on the Way for Commanders

Washington has earned praise for its offseason moves, including adding a potential franchise quarterback in No. 2 overall pick Jayden Daniels, who could be the player that most helps the team tap into its true potential running the ball.

Daniels had one of the great dual-threat quarterback seasons in college football history for LSU as he threw for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while rushing for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Ekeler could be a deft mentor for Robinson as well after he spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers and had over 1,000 yards of total offense five times, including over 1,500 yards of offense and at least 15 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022.

Ekeler wasn’t bad in 2023, either, with 1,064 yards of total offense and 6 touchdowns in just 14 games.

Tony Adame covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame



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