Wide receiver Allen Robinson had an impressive two year run at Penn State and really had a big junior year. Between Bill O’Brien’s offense and the addition of quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Robinson showed to be one of the most exciting and explosive players in the country, especially because of his ability after the catch. While he might have been better served to stay one more year in college, the math makes sense for why Robinson would leave early.
Projecting to the NFL, Robinson is a tale of two halves when it comes to his body and his play. From the bottom down, Robinson is extraordinary, shows tremendous athletic ability and looks the part of a playmaker. His upper body still shows a great deal of rough edges that need to be smoothed out as he goes into the NFL and while his potential is intriguing, he has a ways to go as a player. From how he tracks and catches the ball to his blocking, he often relies on instinct and looks erratic rather than controlled and planned. His overall potential could have him be an impact player at the next level if he can refine his ability. On athleticism, Robinson is a first round pick but his polish and relative rawness at the position suggest he should go in the top 100 picks. His upside and where he could go as a player could still see net him a solid second round pick, but in a field of such talented players, it would not be a surprise to see Robinson fall a little bit and go later than some might expect. Robinson is an exciting athlete but a project as a receiver.
Vitals & Build
Robinson is listed at 6’3” 210lbs and has a great build for the position. He has a lot of strength and there is nothing to suggest he cannot continue building on what he already has. His feet are fantastic and he demonstrates impressive first step explosiveness. Robinson also has great body control and quickness, which makes him a tremendous runner.
There are some motor questions that need to be answered as there are far too many plays where Robinson stops early on and could still have an impact. The effort is simply not always there and it needs to be. His potential from an athletic standpoint is sky high because he is able to do so much but is just scratching the surface on taking advantage.
Route Running & Technique
Robinson’s stance is not good and it does not really look like it has been any kind of priority. He often is tall in it and almost looks lackadaisical at times. When he comes out of his stance, it comes with a big bounce and makes him look slower than he is, so the Nittany Lions have often put him in motion to get him going early and have him play faster.
From a route running standpoint, Robinson shows a great deal of promise. His burst and sheer strength in his leg make him incredibly difficult to stay with in coverage. There are countless examples where Robinson is so quick and so explosive that he loses the opponent with a one-step fake and he has already lost the defender or put them at a significant disadvantage. For the Nittany Lions, they often used it to set up a quick slant.
Going into the route, Robinson’s body control and strength make it so he displays the ability to run incredibly crisp routes. He has proven he can be a nightmare because he is so explosive down the field that he can put fear into opponents, set them up long and come back to the ball. In addition to simply scaring opponents, he has shown he can quickly get into his break and explode from it.
Robinsons will occasionally show he can use his hands to help him gain separation, but his upper body can be out of control or give away what he wants to do. If he can more effectively use it both to break free from contact but also avoid it in the first place, he can be that much better. Robinson’s upside as a route runner is tremendous if he wants to put in the work, he can be an incredibly difficult man to contain.
Robinson’s hands are a work in progress for a few reasons. Despite playing receiver for basically his entire football life, he is really raw on where he catches the ball and how he does it. So often, Robinson is either working entirely off of instinct or his methods to catch the football are quite deliberate and at times forced, looking a little awkward. He does appear to have big hands, which is promising.
Some of this just comes down to reps and getting as many as possible. There is also some technique he needs to work on and improve. He lets too many passes get into his body, but Robinson will also not be entirely sure where he should position his hands to catch the football. As a result, he almost seems better off when he has to react to the football rather than seeing it and being able to plan for it.
Robinson has flashed an incredibly large catch radius and has made a number of spectacular catches in his career. He has also dropped a number of passes and made some plays look much harder than they should be.
This extends to how he times high pointing the football. There are examples where he does a great job of going up and making the big time play as well as situations where he badly mistimes his jump and the result is the ball hitting the ground with him not being close to it. That part just comes down to seeing the ball and doing it over and over with reps.
The last part of the process that Robinson needs to continue to work on is how he positions his body when trying to catch the ball. The better he is when knowing how to catch the ball with his hands, the more of a sense of his body and where it should be as a pass catcher he will have. Robinson is certainly not bad at this, but he has a big build and needs to take more advantage.
Run After Catch
This is where Robinson has shown he most of his incredible potential. Robinson is a natural and gifted ball carrier. He has terrific long speed, so if he has a hole, he can take it the distance, but Robinson has also shown he can operate in small spaces, get out of them and keep the play going. His quickness, especially with shifts and jump cuts allow him to always keep plays alive and potentially go on to score.
Robinson has shown he is fearless as well as dangerous and will go inside, outside or anywhere his instincts make him think he can create a bigger play. He does carry the ball loose at times and needs to eliminate any questions with fumbles.
The question with Robinson is how well he adjusts from catching the ball to running with the ball and that part of his game is still pretty mediocre. Certainly, Penn State had him run slants, but he tended to slow himself down so much when catching the ball that he would get tackled more often than he should.
Much of his run after the catch came on bubble screens. And with these, he would have time to let the ball hit him in his chest or stomach and roll it into his hands to carry the ball. It is slow and takes too long to set up for college, but this really becomes a problem in the NFL. This is where his hands and the issues he needs to address there come into play. If he can address those problems, there is nothing to suggest Robinson cannot be as good and explosive as a run after catch threat as anyone available in this draft class.
Not only is it not good but there is little to suggest he has much interest in it being any good to this point. Robinson will get in the way, but that is about the extent of it. His technique is not good, his effort is awful, and he gives away the play right from the snap.
Right from the snap, Robinson goes from his tall stance and takes a hop step. Anytime Robinson goes with the hop step, it is a running play. And it is the body language of a guy who is less than interested in blocking for his teammates.
Robinson will run into opponents, will use his arms on occasion to try to block but is usually satisfied just to get in the way. And if opponents get past him, he does not seem overly disappointed. Worse, there are a number of examples where Robinson checks out on the play and is walking back to the huddle while the play is still going and his teammates are still fighting.
With his size and strength, this could be an area where Robinson excels in the NFL, but right now, it is basically bad from start to finish and it will not get better until he decides it matters to him.
Although Robinson has not returned punts since high school, his skill set suggests he could be extremely effective in that area and he probably should be looked at for that spot in the NFL. His ability to run with speed and make quick moves to make opponents miss him combine to make him a dangerous threat. Robinson also has an added element of strength that can help him.
Robinson would seem to be best suited to play in a horizontal offense that get the ball in his hands quickly and let him take advantage of the run after the catch. That said, there is nothing that would prevent him from playing in a vertical offense with his skill set there.
Wherever he goes, he needs a lot of time, coaching and reps to improve on the issues he has. Robinson could contribute early as an athlete with teams forcing the ball into his hands and with how much separation he can create with routes, but he has a lot of work to do to become a full time player. The potential is there for him to be a star if he can do it.
Robinson is not quite on the same level physically as Cordarrelle Patterson, but he is in a similar boat into where he is as a player. Patterson was a freakish athlete that had no clue how to play the position and while Robinson has more understanding in the position, he is still raw and has similar upside. Robinson could get used like Patterson did as a rookie with end arounds and as a returner that allows him to excel as an athlete, but the development as a receiver will take time.
Allen Robinson is one of the most explosive athletes and has one of the highest upsides in the entire draft for this year, but he has a long way to go in order to take advantage to reach it. From the waist down, Robinson is ready to go and can be a game breaker, but from the waist up, he has a long way to go as a player. His feet and legs are tantalizing but if he cannot improve how he catches the football, it could blow up in a team’s face. Robinson should go in the top 100, but he ends up being a wild card. In a draft with more polished but less athletic prospects, a player like Robinson could go in the second round or still be available on day three of the draft. Another year of college could have really helped him as a player.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com