Texas RB Jonathon Brooks had a massive game in Week 6 against Oklahoma, causing some to draw comparisons to Longhorns great Bijan Robinson. Is Brooks the next Robinson, and will he command the same kind of appeal on the NFL Draft circuit?
Jonathon Brooks Turning Heads in Red River Rivalry
Brooks was a four-star recruit out of high school, and in the wake of Robinson’s departure for the NFL, he’s erupted as a primary offensive weapon for the Longhorns in 2023.
Heading into Texas’ Week 6 showing against the Sooners, Brooks had 86 carries for 597 yards and five touchdowns. And against Oklahoma, in the vaunted Red River Rivalry, Brooks went off, going for 129 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while adding five catches and 34 yards through the air.
Brooks carved up Oklahoma’s second and third-level defensive units left and right, generating big plays at a consistent clip with his burst, speed, grating play strength, and fast play pace. His dominating performance has some wondering if he can rival Bijan Robinson’s placement in the annals of Texas greats at RB.
Is Brooks the Next Bijan Robinson?
No, Brooks is not the next Robinson.
Let’s address two things right now. First, there is a type of association bias where onlookers associate two players because they look similar cosmetically. This is why we often see same-school comparisons — because uniforms can play a hand in exacerbating that bias.
Schools do often have recruiting preferences when they look to add players, so there is some merit to player similarity. But same-school comparisons are dangerous because of this implicit bias.
Second, Robinson is special and was a special 2023 NFL Draft prospect. In order to be the next Robinson, Brooks would truly have to be the full package: Size, speed, contact balance, elite vision and creative instincts, agility, flexibility, and high-level receiving skills.
A back like Robinson only comes around once a decade at most. It’s an extremely high bar to clear and one that very few backs will hit for the next decade or more.
All this being said, it doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate Brooks for what he is. At 6’0″, 208 pounds, Brooks is an explosive slasher with extremely appealing accelerative capacity through gaps. He also has size-defying contact balance and strength through arm tackles, has solid vision and tempo, and has proven to be a capable pass catcher.
Wearing the Texas burnt orange, Brooks will undoubtedly bring back memories of Bijan whenever he makes a big play at the running back position. He’s not Bijan — very, very few are — but he’s still a very good player and an emerging star for the Longhorns. And in time, he could be an early-round pick in the NFL Draft.
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