Syracuse is more than just the scrappy younger brother of the ACC, gang. Dino Babers has turned the program into a competitor and recruited some true NFL talent -- namely, Alton Robinson.
Robinson was a 4-star recruit coming out of Converse, Texas, with offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, and Michigan. Robinson eventually committed to Texas A&M, but had his offer rescinded for second-degree robbery chargers that were eventually dropped.
After a year at JUCO, Robinson found a home in Syracuse, and has continued to grow. The lost time in missed training camps hurt his development, but the 6-3, 257 pound Robinson hit double-digit numbers in both sacks (10.0) and TFLs (17.0) in his junior season, good enough for 2nd and 3rd in the ACC respectively. That darn Clelin Ferrell.
What we have with Robinson is pro length, pro size, and pro explosiveness. Regularly the first off the line, Robinson has both excellent snap anticipation and strong first step. He can immediately challenge tackle depth from a wide alignment and push quarterbacks off of their set points.
One of the easy issues to see with Robinson is that he doesn't yet know what to do with his outside rush angles -- he gets them easily, but just as easily, tackles can recover and push him beyond the peak of the pocket. The Syracuse line was generally disruptive in 2018 and will be so again in 2019, largely as a part of Robinson's regular wins off the edge.
But Robinson's one-on-one wins are impressive when he gets them, and he's clearly growing into that ability. Robinson has the ability to work tackles inside first to soften his rush angle, making up for modest bend. He's learning how to time his swipe and dip his shoulder, and when it flashes, it's exactly what you want to see from an NFL prospect at on the edge.
As I said above, Robinson only has modest bend -- you can especially see it on that Clemson clip. He always seems to take that extra step at the peak of his rush in order to gather his momentum and re-orient himself to the quarterback.
Is his bend enough? More than enough, from the film I've seen. He just needs to learn how to reduce his surface area to match his footwork up the peak of the pocket. Robinson's biggest gap in his evaluation right now is the ability to dip underneath a tackle's punch, and given his explosiveness, bend, and length, that's a huge card that he needs to get into his deck.
If Robinson can unlock this aspect of his game, he'll elevate his stock as a pro prospect -- and likely churn out even more sacks than he did last season. Without the ability to reduce his surface area by tucking that lead shoulder forward and underneath, his length and size become a disadvantage at times, giving opposing offensive tackles plenty of time and space to tag him on his way up the arc. The QB steps up and Robinson's otherwise productive rush falls fruitless.
Robinson (and teammate Kendall Coleman, for that matter) are two names to watch at EDGE in the 2020 NFL Draft -- Robinson has the potential of a Day 2 EDGE, with every tool you want to see. In his final season with the Orange, and with a target on his back, Robinson must continue to develop the skills to match his traits, showing a translatable product to the NFL that coaches know they can plug and play into their defensive system.