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How the Falcons decided on Bijan Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft

How the Falcons decided on Bijan Robinson in the 2023 NFL Draft

After the workout ended, the Falcons took Robinson to dinner. And when in Texas, you eat local. So, Terry Black’s BBQ it was.

Falcons defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham joined the group for dinner. Graham and Robinson were teammates at Texas before the Falcons drafted Graham in 2021. Graham, Arthur Smith said, put away a “dinosaur rib” with ease, but his presence at the dinner also gave the Falcons another glimpse into who Robinson is as a teammate and friend.

Smith said you could see in Robinson and Graham’s interactions with each other how much respect and friendship there was between the two. That stuck in Arthur Smith’s head as he returned to Atlanta.

“Just those interactions, I mean, they’re real,” Arthur Smith said. “It’s genuine. It’s not one of these phony, ‘Hey, I’m made for Instagram,’ or whatever social media… and then the guy is a complete fraud. This guy is authentic, and he is real.”

Fontenot felt Robinson’s authentic nature, too, in much of the same way the Falcons felt it with Drake London before they drafted him at No. 8 overall the year before.

“They’re good. You want your kids wearing these jerseys. You want to buy your kid a Bijan jersey or a Drake jersey,” Fontenot said.

This Austin trip completed the picture of which the Falcons were forming, painting and creating of Robinson. It’s a painting that was years in the making. It’s something that began with Fargnoli and carried through to the end, when the Falcons ultimately drafted Robinson.

“You look all the way back to the very beginning,” Fontenot said, “to that first area scout who put a grade on him.”

So, as it was when the Falcons were on the clock with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and Robinson was on the board, there was no doubt.

The picture of Robinson was clear.

“It was an easy pick, man. It really was,” Kyle Smith said of drafting Robinson. “The amount of work that went into it. The conviction we had from Day 1 to being right on the clock, it was an easy pick.”

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