Cam Robinson | OT, Alabama
Weight: 326 pounds
Late 1st Round – Early 2nd Round
Power: Robinson’s massive frame and immense strength make him a powerful presence at left tackle. This is most evident in the run game, where he consistently drives defenders backward several yards behind constantly-churning legs.
There are a few reasons Robinson is considered the strongest run mauler in this draft class. His sheer power and frame have certainly helped him earn that title.
Quickness off the snap: Robinson’s explosion off the snap — both in pass protection and on the ground — is second to none among the 2017 class of offensive linemen. On nearly every snap during the 2016 season, Robinson gained an advantage from the get-go simply because he was able to get out of his stance faster than his opponent.
Robinson’s quickness off the snap enables him to gain leverage against his opponents. In the above clip, Robinson could have taken his man to the bench had he not disengaged once the ball carrier was past him.
Of course, transitioning quickly from stance to pass set is also a substantial advantage when protecting the quarterback. It’s a trait Ryan Ramczyk also boasts, but not to the level of his counterpart, Robinson.
This trait is a big reason why Myles Garrett, Texas A&M edge defender and presumed top-five selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, was kept in check when he battled Robinson.
Footwork/Lateral Movement: Robinson has acquired what many would label “cement feet syndrome,” which is merely choppy footwork or slow lateral movement. Ramczyk’s footwork as a pass protector puts Robinson’s to shame, and the difference between the two is night and day.
At the college level, the footwork issues mostly showed up in pass protection and made Robinson susceptible to speed rushes from the outside.
The above clip shows one of the rare occurrences in which the edge rusher across from Robinson got a better jump off the snap. Robinson immediately panicked and committed the cardinal sin of left tackles — crossing his feet and turning his hips to block the defensive end. His mistake resulted in a blindside hit to quarterback Jalen Hurts.
It’s not fair to compare Robinson to Ramczyk regarding pass protection. But, against LSU this season, Ramczyk provided a perfect example of how excellent footwork can make up for an early disadvantage at the snap.
Again, these issues mostly show up in pass protection, but Robinson’s poor footwork and technique did cause a few negative plays in the running game (as indicated below) for the Crimson Tide in 2016.
Although this is the only knock against his on-field production, it’s a big one that could scare some tackle-needy teams away from drafting Robinson early. The competition only gets faster, stronger and quicker at the NFL level. Before Robinson can be trusted as a starting-caliber tackle, his footwork and technique will need to be cleaned up.
Off-field issues: Year after year, “extracurricular activities” hurt a player’s draft stock, even knocking some of out of the first round. Given his history, that could be an issue for Robinson. The potential first-rounder was charged with a felony last summer after his arrest for possession of stolen firearms. He also received misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, thrusting his name into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The district attorney eventually decided against prosecuting Robinson, citing a lack of justifiable grounds, but the poor publicity will nonetheless damage his draft stock.
The Minnesota Vikings need an offensive lineman more than FOX Sports needs to get rid of Troy Aikman, there’s no doubt about that. But for the direction Minnesota is headed, Robinson isn’t the ideal prospect for the Vikings to grab.
Sure, he’s a powerhouse in the ground game and would certainly benefit the likes of Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata and/or a 2017 rookie, but with Pat Shurmur taking over as offensive coordinator, the Vikings will be operating a pass-happy West Coast scheme; which means less run blocking and more pass protection, where Robinson’s poor footwork is more easily exposed.
Robinson is a decent second-round value for general manager Rick Spielman, but there’s a good chance he’ll be able to address offensive line more effectively with his first pick in the 2017 draft. If one of Utah’s Garett Bolles, Troy’s Antonio Garcia or Temple’s Dion Dawkins is available with that mid-second round pick, each is a better selection than Robinson for the Vikings.