Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson has the skill set to put up big numbers right away in the NFL.
Robinson facilitated the development of young Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenburg last season, but it’ll be the receiver’s own development that NFL teams care about next season.
While wideouts like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are drawing a lot of praise prior to the draft, a number of factors make Robinson just as intriguing of a prospect.
Robinson is a lot more athletic than his Combine numbers indicate. Though he only ran a 4.60 second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, the pass catcher is a lot faster on film. If anything, his impressive 127” broad jump shows that he’s an explosive athlete capable of getting a good burst off of the line of scrimmage at the next level.
In terms of catching the ball, Robinson is among the best in the class. He hauls in every routine pass and makes a number of spectacular catches as well. While he’s 6’2” tall, Robinson still manages to go down and reel in low passes when necessary. In the NFL, he’ll corral a number of off-the-mark passes which others won’t be able to haul in.
After the catch, Robinson is just as dangerous. He has a deadly juke move that he uses on a frequent basis in the open field. The wideout knows how to get past defenders and will do so as an NFL starter. When this former Nittany Lion has the ball in his hands, he’s a good bet to chew up yardage. Robinson is agile and moves well enough laterally to be lethal at the point of attack.
In terms of frame, Robinson is about the right size. At 6’2”, 220 pounds, the receiver will be able to compete for position with NFL cornerbacks when the ball is thrown.
There’s a reason, however, that Robinson isn’t being talked about in the same conversation as Watkins and Evans.
The wideout is a mediocre route runner and he rarely fools opposing cornerbacks on double move routes. He’ll struggle to get open and gain great separation at the next level, so looking for him to shred man coverage isn’t realistic. That’s not to say Robinson runs poor routes—he just doesn’t get low into his cuts and struggles to push defensive backs vertically on his initial stem. Such is a potential cause for concern.
Also, on film, Robinson appears lazy in the run game. He isn’t one to get physical on the perimeter and rarely engages his assignment. NFL cornerbacks and safeties will take advantage of Robinson’s unwillingness to block in the run game and the pass catcher might lose snaps on Sundays if he doesn’t become a more diligent blocker.
While Robinson’s game film shows him to be faster than his test numbers at the Scouting Combine, it’s still somewhat disconcerting that he only ran a 4.60 second 40-yard dash. If anything, such a time warrants a second look at the tape.
If Robinson was comparable to any NFL player, it’d likely be Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. Both pass catchers use their body well and have good hands, but lack the elite top-end speed necessary to be among the league’s best. That said, in the right system (for Jeffery, that system is one with Brandon Marshall and a strong-armed signal caller), either can be very effective.
On my big board, which you can check out here, I have Robinson as the 20th-best player available in the 2014 NFL draft. Look for Robinson to end up being one of the better rookie receivers this coming season
Robinson could hear his name called as early as the end of the first round, with receiver-needy teams waiting to pounce on this former Penn State standout. He’d fit in well with a team like the Seahawks, as Pete Carroll looks to rebuild his receiving corps, but don’t count out the possibility of Robinson staying in-state with the Steelers or Eagles—teams that are in need of a big, physical red-zone threat. Robinson would be able to drastically improve any receiving corps upon arrival, but it remains to be seen where he ends up.
After witnessing Robinson dominate in the collegiate ranks—hauling in 97 passes for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns just last season alone—it’s reasonable to think he can make an impact as early as his rookie season. Should Robinson become a better run blocker, he could see 1,000 snaps next season. It’s an optimistic goal, but an easily accomplished one nonetheless.