Former PSU wideout Robinson good catch for any team
Allen Robinson is unlikely to drop down draft boards simply because he's so unlikely to drop balls.
“He probably had less drops than any other receiver in college football this past year,” former longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt said.
Robinson finished among the top seven receivers at the February NFL Combine in the 20- and 60-yard shuttle runs and the vertical and broad jumps. There's no questioning his pure athleticism, but one thing stands out.
Almost without fail, he catches the ball.
“What he has are hands,” Brandt, now a senior analyst for NFL.com, said by phone this week. “The only thing keeping him from being a high first-round pick is that he doesn't have 4.4 speed. If he had that, we'd be talking about him right up there in the top 15 players in the draft.”
As it is, Brandt believes the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Robinson “could sneak into the first round” but expects him to go early in the second round. ESPN analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay agree with that projection, the former singling Robinson out this week as a “riser” up the draft boards.
Not surprising after Robinson caught 174 balls for 2,445 yards in 24 games over the past two seasons, prompting him to declare for the draft upon completion of his 97-catch, 1,432-yard junior season in which it was clear that true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg relied on him heavily.
Hackenberg routinely threw to a covered Robinson, trusting his jumping ability and hands to come down with so-called “50-50” balls that defensive backs had chances at.
“The more confident that your teammates and coaches have in you, the more confidence you have in yourself,” Robinson told the Tribune-Review this week. “The biggest thing for me is I want to be accountable to my team.”
Robinson's slower-than-elite times in the 40-yard dash – he ran a 4.60 at the combine, although he improved on that time by Penn State's Pro Day last month – leave him just out of the top tier in a crowded receiver market. Robinson was one of 19 underclassmen at the position to declare.
“The main thing is just competing with yourself,” Robinson said. “You can't really control and can't (worry about) what the other receivers are doing.”
Robinson will watch the draft with a low-key gathering of family, close friends and former coaches at his former high school in Southfield, Mich.
He insists he isn't nervous because, at this point, the process is out of his control. But Robinson does admit to following coverage of the draft and mocks to see where he stands – as motivation.
“If I see I'm a third-round, fourth-round guy, that really pushes me and creates a chip on my shoulder,” Robinson said. “Just like being back in high school going into college – I went into college with a chip on my shoulder. Always playing with that chip on my shoulder has helped me out a lot.”
Despite growing up in the heart of Big Ten country, Robinson initially wasn't heavily recruited by schools in the conference. Analysts have raved about his intangibles (Robinson said he has interviewed with 27 of the 32 teams), with Brandt one of the ones who noted that he kept a commitment to Penn State even after Michigan and Michigan State – the former a childhood favorite school – began recruiting him late.
Just like his size, leaping ability and lateral quickness, though, Robinson's character pales in comparison to the trait that stands out most for scouts: Those ever-reliable hands.
“I played basketball, baseball and football my whole life,” Robinson said. “I was always catching balls – and taking pride in catching balls. Especially baseball – I was a catcher so I was always catching balls.”
Soon, he'll be catching balls on Sundays.