All good things must come to an end, or so I’ve heard. It’s been a blast learning more about each member of the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars draft class, and we’re ending the series with a prospect many fans are excited about — Alabama left tackle, Cam Robinson.
Brent Taylor, executive editor over at RollBamaRoll.com, spoke with me and provided some quality answers on Robinson. Roll ‘Bama Roll is SB Nation’s trusted source for Alabama athletics, and covers one of college football’s most dominant programs in depth.
What was my biggest takeaway? Robinson has all of the ability, and great potential, but his mental lapses and mistakes need to be shored up if he plans to start in the pros.
Read more below!
1. Cam Robinson was projected by many to be a first-round pick, and there was even chatter that the Jaguars could take him at No. 4 overall after he had a private workout with the team. But he slid to Jacksonville in the early second round at No. 34 overall. Do you think this was due to being a consensus "weak" offensive line class, or other reasons?
I think you really hit the nail on the head. The upper echelon of the offensive line class this year consisted of Garrett Bolles, Cam Robinson, Ryan Ramczyk, and maybe Forrest Lamp, none of which were really awe-inspiring names. As long as more than one of those guys are on the board, teams are more likely to wait to draft anyone from that “pocket.” Once Bolles finally went in the 20s, Ramcyzk came in at the end of the round, and then Robinson and Lamp followed just a few picks later.
Had someone jumped on Bolles and/or Ramcyzk earlier, I would guess that Robinson would have gone earlier, too.
2. With that said, what kind of value does Robinson bring as a second-rounder, and does he have the ability to be a Day 1 starter for the Jaguars?
I think the top of the second round was about the right place for him. He’s an extremely talented and prototypically built lineman with above-average athleticism, but struggles sometimes with mental goofs. When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best linemen I’ve watched come through Alabama. When he’s not, you’re left wanting to throw your TV remote at him for ruining another drive will an ill-timed false start.
The talent is there to be a long-time NFL starter, even from Day 1. The question will be if he can do it consistently. And that question was why he wasn’t drafted at the top of the first round.
3. The Jaguars have been pretty adamant about keeping Robinson at left tackle. But with Branden Albert also on the roster, does Robinson have the necessary tools to move inside to guard if need be? If so, what traits does he possess for that position?
Throughout the draft season, many mentioned that Robinson might be better suited as a right tackle or guard once he gets in the NFL.
Personally, I think that came from a stereotype of Alabama tackles (D.J. Fluker, Cyrus Kouandjio, James Carpenter, Andre Smith…) who were big, slow-footed mammoths and all ended up being moved from left tackle.
Robinson, though a massive man in his own right, is built from a little different cloth than the rest. There’s not as much belly fat, more muscle tone, and a good bit more quickness and speed in his game than his predecessors.
While he does have the functional strength and the ability to down-block in crowded situations, I’m not sure guard would be the best move for him. He’s a lengthy and tall player, and you have to wonder if that height would become a bit of a disadvantage in the interior of the line, as he’d likely lose the leverage game against stouter defensive tackles.
4. The Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick, and followed that up with Robinson next. They also drafted a fullback late. The Jags are likely going to a more gap/power running scheme. Can you talk about Robinson's run-blocking ability and how it may be a fit for that kind of scheme?
Alabama usually ran with a zone run scheme, so transitioning to a power scheme might cause some initial issues for him. That said, he excels in short yardage situation, and is more than adept at getting inside the pads of the defensive lineman and rotating to one side or the other, depending on what gap the running back is supposed to open into. It’s rare to ever see him get knocked backward.
While he’s a more than exceptional run-blocker at the line of scrimmage, he does have some issues once he gets into the second level. He’ll often get lost while trying to find a linebacker to block, or either overextend himself and fall as a smaller player doesn’t allow him to get close enough to engage. He’s got the speed to be a force in the second level, but not the patience or vision to get in the way of the correct defender and stay there.
5. Following that up, how is Robinson in pass protection? What is his biggest strength and biggest weakness as a blocker?
His pass protection skills are what really baffled draft people all season. Most of the time, he’s nearly unbeatable. He has the strength to handle the bull rush, quick enough to handle the speed rush (and with long enough arms to make up for someone that is faster than him), and can stop on a dime to shut down an inside counter. When a smaller edge rusher tries to speed around him to the outside, you’ll sometimes see him use his inside arm almost like a club, bringing it down on the back/shoulder of the rusher and pummeling him into the dirt.
If you want, go check out his game against Myles Garrett (that athletic freak of a dude that just got drafted No. 1 overall). You won’t be disappointed.
Look at the plays at 1:48, 5:10, 7:05, 7:18, 8:50, and 11:31 if you just want to watch some of my hand-picked better plays that showcase what he can do.
And yet, sometimes, he just can’t get it right. Usually it’s a chain of events that will just spiral for him. He’ll seemingly space out before a snap and then react a half-second late, and his defender might make a play. Then, one or two plays later, he gets nervous and false starts. And then he reacts late again while trying not to false start.
Suddenly, you’ve gone from first down and 10 in field goal range to third and 25 at midfield. It can get quite frustrating, and he’s generally good for about one such meltdown per game.
So, in summary: he’s the ideal blend of power, speed, and size for a left tackle with solid technique and has the talent to shut down the No. 1 overall draft pick (and generally make it look easy), but has some struggles with overreaching while trying to engage blocks and is subject to the occasionally drive-killing mental breakdown.
He’s not the perfect offensive lineman by any means, but that’s why he didn’t go No. 1 overall. That said, the Jaguars are getting a player who was a three-year starter for the most talented team in college football… a player who, as a true freshman, beat out the older players (all of whom were also the top recruits of their classes in high school) to become the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Nick Saban. You’re getting a player with all the talent in the world, and only needs some work on shoring up his consistency and patience to become an NFL starter quality, if not Pro Bowl-caliber, player.
We know Robinson is going to “compete” with Albert, the veteran, at left tackle. But if he loses that competition, would the Jaguars still want their five best overall linemen out there, and move Robinson to guard? Time will tell, but I’m excited to see what he can do against NFL defenders.
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