Bijan Robinson, former Arizona high school star, drafted by Falcons

Apr 27, 2023, 6:53 PM | Updated: 10:52 pm

Bijan Robinson at the 2023 NFL Draft...

Bijan Robinson poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons took an offensive skill position player in the first round for the third consecutive year by selecting running back Bijan Robinson with the eighth pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Robinson, who attended Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, was regarded as the top running back in the draft after rushing for 1,580 yards with 18 touchdowns for Texas last season. Robinson, clocked at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, provides power and speed to a Falcons offense which has emphasized the running game under coach Arthur Smith.

The Falcons’ leadership team of general manager Terry Fontenot and Smith also emphasized skill positions on offense in the first rounds of the past two drafts. Tight end Kyle Pitts was the No. 4 overall pick in 2021, and wide receiver Drake London was the 2022 first-round pick, when Atlanta also had the No. 8 pick.

The Falcons, who have focused on defense this offseason, bypassed defensive tackle Jalen Carter out of Georgia and instead chose Robinson.

The draft follows a busy offseason for Atlanta, which took advantage of its long-awaited ability to be active in free agency after finally emerging from years of salary cap woes.

Looking to end a streak of five consecutive losing seasons, including 7-10 finishes the past two seasons, the Falcons committed at least $179.8 million in guaranteed money to players signed or re-signed thus far this offseason.

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Bijan Robinson, former Arizona high school star, drafted by Falcons