Previous Entries in the Get to Know ‘Em Series: Harrison Smith; Stephen Hill;Alshon Jeffery; Rueben Randle; Trumaine Johnson
For the final entry in the “Get to Know ‘Em” Series, let’s talk Combine. So how much weight do you want to give the Combine? Do you think it provides useful information, giving teams a chance to get a better idea of whether a player is fast enough, strong enough and agile enough to be successful in the NFL? Or do you think it mainly serves to confuse teams, with players gaming the drills and teams falling in love with players that look great at the Combine but didn’t produce in college and won’t in the NFL? Well, your view of the Combine is going to be an important factor in how you view Josh Robinson, a 5’10 cornerback out of UCF that was viewed as a mid to late round pick until he dominated the Combine.
Dominate is probably the best way to describe Robinson’s performance in Indianapolis. He clocked the fastest 40 time of any player (4.33 seconds), had the longest broad jump and fastest three cone drill among defensive backs and had the third highest vertical jump. There are no longer any questions about whether he’s athletic enough to play in the NFL. Of course, it’s not just about athleticism. You have to actually be able to play football. While he wasn’t playing in the best conference (Conference USA can best be described as “sub Big East”), Robinson did produce in the way you’d expect an NFL caliber corner to produce. He was named First Team All Conference his last two years in college and intercepted 10 passes and broke up 36 passes in his three years in college.
Robinson has good technique for a corner, staying low and displaying the agility and economy of motion that also showed in his three cone drill time. He has a quick break in the zone and good route recognition. He has the speed to keep up with vertical routes and to recover after mistakes. He has good ball recognition and quality hands that allow him to capitalize on his great vertical to pick off 50/50 jump balls, or at least get a hand on the pass. Additionally, Robinson is considered a stand out punt returner, averaging 15.2 yards a return, the 9th best total in 2010, although he only returned seven punts for 51 yards his junior year.
Robinson is not a perfect corner, obviously. 5’10 is a little short for a corner, especially as wide receivers get taller and tight ends become more prominent in the passing game (Antoine Winfield being an obvious exception). Robinson also has some trouble when asked to press receivers, either choosing not to get physical with the receiver or losing his technique after release. He isn’t the best in run support, but he is a good tackler.
Robinson seems like the kind of player that would be successful in the Vikings’ Cover 2 scheme. He has the speed, athleticism and instincts that would allow him to thrive in the zone and the scheme would serve to cover some of his weaknesses. Of course, Robinson may just have had a good day in Indianapolis and might just be exactly the kind of player that gives the Combine such a bad reputation.