Oct 15, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; UCF Knights cornerback Josh Robinson (20) covers Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Terrance Wilkerson (18) during the fourth quarter at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The Mustangs defeated the Knights 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

A Closer Look: Vikings 3rd Round Pick Josh Robinson

Quoting my own earlier scouting piece on Josh Robinson:

As part of our on-going effort to identify a guy the Vikings could draft in the second round to help their horrible secondary, we now turn our attention to UCF corner Josh Robinson. This is not a name that was on most people’s boards a couple months ago, but like Stephen “Not Calvin Johnson” Hill, he has exploded on the scene in recent weeks thanks to a string of impressive work outs. Now Mr. Robinson is hot enough to rate as a 2A prospect on Pro Football Weekly’s draft value chart. So let’s look at Robinson and decide if he would be a good fit for the Vikings and their particular scheme.

Right off the bat, the scouting report on Robinson indicates that he might make a good corner for the Vikings. He’s small at 5-10 but the Vikings are used to that. They’re not concerned so much about height and leaping ability as physicality and tackling and being in the right place. Speed is of course a plus for any corner and Robinson has tons of that. In fact, his 40 time of 4.33 was the fastest of any player at the combine. Lack of downfield speed is what caused the Vikes to shift Antoine Winfield to slot corner and is a lot of what got Cedric Griffin run out of town. So, right away, Robinson gives your secondary a trait it has been sorely lacking in recent years.

Tackling ability is something that naturally plays a big part when scouting a potential Cover-2 corner, and Robinson has that in his arsenal. Robinson is also rated highly in terms of ball skills and hands, and – significantly – is thought of as someone who can excel in either zone or man coverage. Here’s where things get a bit iffy though: Every scouting report remarks on Robinson’s tendency to gamble, and notes that he often gets burned on double-moves. Gambling is a strict no-no in the Vikings’ scheme. Of course that’s something that can be coached out of a guy. The great thing about Robinson is, he has the speed to recover in the event he does get burned. Speed makes up for a lot, which is why you can’t overlook a player like this even if he has certain technical failings.

There are a couple other potential issues with Robinson that might be more troublesome than whether he gambles too much. The big one is physicality. Despite being considered a good tackler, Robinson is not the best in the world at jamming receivers at the line. If that was a problem in college it will only be a worse one in the pros, where the receivers are bigger and stronger and know how to use their hands better. Weight training and coaching would help Robinson get over this issue. Remember that Cedric Griffin was initially knocked for his lack of physicality, but over the years became better at jamming receivers.

So what could Josh Robinson become if he maximizes his talents? Just looking at it superficially, I think he could be better than Cedric Griffin during his best years. He’s certainly faster than Cedric ever was and it appears he has better ball skills. It will take some work to get him there though. Griffin himself was far from a finished product when he came to the Vikings, but after a few years of coaching became an ideal #2 corner in their scheme.

Some rate Robinson as strictly a slot corner in the NFL but in the Vikings’ system there’s no reason he can’t line up outside on all downs. If he doesn’t max out, you’re looking at Asher Allen with wheels. That’s not what we’re after. It all boils down to Robinson’s physical tools and whether the Vikings think they can smooth out his flaws and work him into their system.

With Robinson and Harrison Smith the Vikings’ secondary has gotten a whole lot faster. Whether it gets better is something we’ll have to wait to find out.

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