The 2015 NFL Draft is over. The Vikings’ first rookie minicamp, which took place last weekend, is over. Up next — training camp at the end of July. Rookies took the field earlier this month to prove themselves in front of Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff, but that was just a tease. The real test, the real development, is just beginning.
One player, seventh-round pick Edmond Robinson, stands to gain the most this offseason. I highlighted him as a potential sleeper prospect in March, but Robinson has a chance to be more than just a practice squad player; if he can take advantage of his physical gifts and the excellent coaching in Minnesota, Robinson can become a contributor on special teams and beyond.
Weight: 245 pounds
Arm Length: 34″
Hand Size: 10¼”
Full 2015 NFL Scouting Combine results will be posted as soon as possible. Watch Edmond Robinson’s full workout here.
Pro Day Results
Robinson was one of just two Division II players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in March, and vaulted himself into the conversation as one of the weekend’s most surprising performers. He finished among the top-10 in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.61 seconds, and also finished 10th in the broad jump with a 10’1″ leap. At his Pro Day, Robinson stood on every one of his numbers — a testament to his athleticism and ability in the league’s benchmark tests.
The Vikings were one of five teams to send linebacker coaches to Newberry’s March 6 Pro Day, where Robinson participated in on-field drills. According to the NFL’s Gil Brandt, he “performed well in the positional drills” and did enough to warrant a selection late in the NFL Draft.
Robinson described himself as “obsessed” with watching the NFL Network while growing up in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina — a young boy who dreamed of making it “big” in the National Football League. According to the Post and Courier, Robinson was a dual-sport athlete at St. John’s High School who excelled in both basketball and football. On the field, he was a do-it-all player who had the potential to play for a Division I school. His high school coach, James Waring, remembers the first time seeing Robinson at football practice:[quote_box_center]“I went out to the field just to watch the guys go through drills,” Waring said. “All of the sudden, my eyes latch on to this kid, the tallest kid on the field and a defensive back. I went home and called some of my buddies and told them, ‘You won’t believe this kid at St. John’s. He has to be a Division I prospect.’”[/quote_box_center]
Although Waring recognized Robinson’s talents immediately, he fell behind the recruiting curve; Waring took over the St. John’s football program in Robinson’s senior year, leaving little time to communicate with national Division I schools. The Citadel, a military school and Division I FCS program in South Carolina, offered Robinson a scholarship, but rescinded their offer a week before signing day.
John Olson, a volunteer coach at St. John’s and personal mentor to Robinson, believes the disappointment only helped the young Robinson on his path to the NFL.[quote_box_center]“Less than a week before signing day, he was told he would not get an offer from the school where we wanted him to go. think he learned there that you can’t always believe what people tell you, and to make the best of every opportunity he has. I think he played with a chip on his shoulder at Newberry, and went there bound and determined to be the best player at Newberry.”[/quote_box_center]
Newberry, a Division II school in-state, gave Robinson one final chance. He joined the team as an outside linebacker, and earned playing time almost immediately. However, that instant gratification was met with even further disappointment. Two weeks into his freshman season, Robinson fractured his ankle and was forced to redshirt the entire year.
The lost season, though devastating, opened other opportunities for Robinson. He used his time away from football to further his studies, working his way toward a business administration degree. With the extra dedication to his studies, Robinson was able to earn his Bachelor’s degree in four-and-a-half years, freeing himself to train for and shine in the East-West Shrine Game following his senior season at Newberry.
Robinson is an extremely long athlete with rare length and hand size — his arm length is in the 95th percentile for all linebackers, while his hand size puts him in the 87th percentile. While at Newberry, Robinson used those unique traits to his advantage, often lining up over tight ends and jamming them at the line of scrimmage with a violent first punch. He is also faster than a majority of linebackers, and the coaches at Newberry put Robinson’s speed to good use. As Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network pointed out in January, Robinson often dropped into coverage against a variety of opponents, including slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs. In certain situations, Robinson even rotated to safety and played the role of a centerfielder. Against the run, Robinson showed a quick initial burst and ability to explode into the backfield. On contact, he often wrapped up, engulfing ballcarriers with his sinewy arms. That versatility (as a linebacker in man or zone coverage), combined with Robinson’s off-the-charts athleticism, made him worth the seventh-round investment.
At a Division II school like Newberry, relying on athleticism can lead to a number of big hits and highlight-reel plays. In the NFL, bad habits die quickly, and Robinson will need to add muscle to his slight frame if he wants to make it past the Vikings’ practice squad. As Lance Zierlein stated in his scouting report for NFL.com, Robinson “looks like a praying mantis on tape” and is “almost all legs”. Robinson is a raw prospect, and that shows in what limited tape is available online. Far too often, he misses tackles and finds himself out of place while dropping into coverage. Against the run, he was pushed around my bigger tight ends and lineman, but made up for his lack of strength with excellent quickness and the ability to run sideline-to-sideline.
Other Scouting Reports:
According to the Vikings’ official website, Robinson’s agent informed him that he’d be drafted between the fifth-round and the seventh-round. Robinson, who spent the weekend with his family, remembers every aching moment before the Vikings selected him with the No. 232 pick.[quote_box_center]“I sat there for six hours and watched the entire draft,” Robinson said. “It was a long process, but I was glad when I finally got the call. Now, it’s time to go to work.”[/quote_box_center]
Linebackers coach Adam Zimmer visited Robinson on the Newberry campus this offseason, and Robinson showed enough to warrant the pick. General manager Rick Spielman describes the organization’s thought process around the selection:[quote_box_center]”He’s played outside. You don’t see him a lot in the film at a stacked position, but he has great length. He has great speed and range,” Spielman said. “He’s going to be another guy that has a lot of athletic tools to work with but it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but you can’t teach his length, you can’t teach his speed and you can’t teach his athletic ability, so we’ll look at him as maybe a guy that can play multiple positions at linebacker, maybe do some pass rush off edge, but we’re very excited from his standpoint, from the athletic skillset that he has a lot of tools to work with and we’ll see how quickly he comes along.”[/quote_box_center]
After some deliberation, the team at Vikings Territory awarded the Robinson selection a B+. Many, like myself, expected Robinson to fall to the seventh-round, and the Vikings made the pick based on Robinson’s unique length and athleticism. Brett gave Robinson the highest grade, while Andy gave the selection a C+. Why? Your answer, below:[quote_center]”Robinson might end up being decent. He might also end up not making it past the 90-man roster. I would’ve loved to have seen the Vikings buy a lotto ticket in the La’el Collins Powerball.”[/quote_center]
While Robinson may have a uphill battle ahead of him, I was a big fan of the selection. The seventh-round is a breeding ground for players like Robinson, who may not have the pedigree, experience, or immediate talent to start in the NFL, but have one or two traits that force you to pull the trigger.
He’s raw, he’s too small, and he’s yet to face a true test outside of the East-West Shrine Game, but Robinson has the tools to survive the Vikings’ upcoming training camp. With some direction and guidance under Mike Zimmer, Robinson can find a place on special teams or on the team’s practice squad.
Welcome to the big show, Edmond! You can follow Edmond Robinson on Twitter here!
Rookie mini camp is complete, now it's time to continue to push and make the team #Go VIKINGS
— Edmond Robinson Jr. (@AAP_30) May 10, 2015