Run After Catch Skills
Run After Catch Skills
I was surprised to see him get run down from behind in multiple games studied in the open field, so his functional speed will be something that isn’t going to allow him to be a maxed-out version of himself as a player. He’s plenty shifty, showing great agility and strong vision to feel pursuit and either break the angle or shake free of the first arriving hit. He’s slippery and doesn’t take a lot of hits on the nose.
This is a very quick receiver with a lot of twitch in his frame to sneak free of off-man defenders or drive through the top of the route and uncover versus squatting zone defenders. Easy gas early in his reps on the route step but he also shows the ability to temper his pace and change speeds to set up breaks sufficiently. Press defenders will test him most, especially those with length that can catch him early and prevent him from getting started and out onto his route.
Names like Rondale Moore and Lynn Bowden Jr. have come to mind when studying Robinson’s play, particularly with how he was used at Nebraska as a multi-tool weapon. I think his contributions on special teams, in the screen game, as a vertical receiver or quick game target, and potentially as a scatback out of the backfield will offer an NFL team a sizable menu to work with.
Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson projects as an impactful weapon at the NFL level after a successful transition from the Nebraska Cornhuskers program to the Kentucky Wildcats in 2021. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen did a terrific job of making the most of Robinson’s skill set this past season—something that Nebraska struggled with during his two years of playing time in Lincoln.
Robinson is a quick-twitch athlete who is a natural playmaker with the ball in his hands. He’s electric to watch attack defenders and stress their discipline in space. The key to unlocking Robinson’s potential with the Wildcats was his role and usage as a primary wide receiver. Robinson was recruited as a running back and his transition into a wide receiver has steadily developed, culminating with more than 1,100 receiving yards in 2021’s regular season.
The Wildcats crafted some quick-hitting touches for Robinson with jet motion, screen passes, and attacking free access at the snap, but his role also featured vertical receiver and downfield efforts and allowed Robinson to show a pleasantly well-rounded skill set as a player despite his transformation from a backfield weapon. I don’t see the profile of a perimeter wide receiver when watching Robinson and slotting him in only one role would be missing an opportunity to maximize his potential impact on an offense—I’m hoping to see him land in a role that will continue to ask him to line up all over the middle of the field and in the backfield. He did partake in some reps as a returner as well and I think that’s a logical extension of his skill set as a quick-footed, agile ball carrier, too.
Ideal role: Starting slot wide receiver
Scheme tendencies: Scheme versatile in the run game; play-action pass-heavy offense
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Missouri (2021), South Carolina (2021), Florida (2021), LSU (2021), Georgia (2021), Tennessee (2021)
Best Game Studied: Tennessee (2021)
Worst Game Studied: Georgia (2021)
Route Running: I wouldn’t classify him as a true technician just yet given the nature of some of his targets and his general transition to wide receiver, but he has all the tools in the toolbox to win from the slot. I am concerned about the idea of him playing in straight-up situations on the perimeter against press coverage, but he should be able to shake free of man defenders underneath.
Hands: One of Robinson’s best traits is his hands. He’s made a number of high-difficulty receptions out of the backfield and down the field and is fearless about taking contact at the catch point despite his lack of size. He’s unbothered in instances of adjusting his frame to the ball, although his catch radius is compromised by his frame and a lack of length.
Separation: See Above.
Release Package: There’s a lot of potential here as far as his natural gifts go. I think he will be fine, but his size and stature will leave him with some restrictions against top-flight press defenders outside.
Run After Catch: See Above.
Ball Skills: This is such a pleasant surprise piece of the puzzle for Robinson. He’s naturally gifted at tracking the football and is rarely caught off guard by errant throws or targets that test his ability to open himself to the football. I wouldn’t consider him a high-point extraordinaire or someone who is going to win you high-point throws but he does have hops and has shown the ability to go get the rock if there isn’t someone stuck on his frame.
Football IQ: I do think Robinson’s success this season is a testament to his natural football instincts. He took the full-time role as a receiver in stride and was very much a natural in tracking the football from more traditional wide receiver alignments. I think he has a lot of potential to build up his route tree and become a tough assignment in man-to-man coverage in the middle of the field with more time.
Versatility: See Above.
Competitive Toughness: He showcases impressive concentration and tenacity at the catch point as a receiver. He’s not easily dissuaded from securing tough catches through contact. He’s not going to win above the rim consistently though, nor is he going to have a lot of success pulling out of the grasp of defenders. His wins in YAC come from contorting himself through challenges at the fringe of the defender’s tackle radius.
Big-Play Ability: He’s got a knack for explosive plays and played in an offense that allowed him to roll up RAC or, alternatively, go after big shots in the passing game with play-action. Putting him in a similar situation should theoretically provide similar results, although he’s going to be a little more dependent on the surrounding cast to create bigger spacing issues and allow him the room needed to shake loose.
TDN Consensus: 75.92/100 (Third Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 76.50/100
Marino Grade: 75.00/100
Harris Grade: 71.00/100
Sanchez Grade: 79.50/100
Weissman Grade: 76.50/100
Parson Grade: 77.00/100