One game is not a good sample size to figure out whether a player is any good. Additionally, watching a receiver play against a defense that plays mostly zone coverage isn’t a great way to figure out how good he is at getting separation.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s draw some conclusions about Demarcus Robinson based on that EXACT information, OK? OK!
Look, there’s not a lot to know about Robinson. What we DO know is that he’s going to be called on to be a much, much bigger part of the offense than we thought after Chris Conley went down for the year and Albert Wilson became a regular on the injury report. In fact, he’s gone from afterthought to a guy the Chiefs really need to step up.
So ... can he? Well, I have no idea to be honest. But I’ll tell you what I know about Robinson after going back and re-watching the all-22 of every snap he had against the Steelers.
First, I know that he had more wins than losses when he was in a situation where such things were ascertainable. In fact, by my charting, he had nine wins to only three losses, with the remaining plays being charted as neutral. There were an abnormally large number of neutral plays due to the fact that Pittsburgh played a ton of zone coverage. That made it difficult for me to gauge how good Robinson is as shaking individual defenders.
However, we can at least look for some traits, so that’s what I did. Starting off with the pros, the first thing that stands out about Robinson is that he’s got quick feet and nice start-stop movement. VERY nice.
I kinda like Robinson's feet. Doesn't waste many steps, very quick, good burst. Seems in SSS like he can get separation. pic.twitter.com/zJCUWYeVUK— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 17, 2017
That route alone is enough to pique my interest, in that Robinson demonstrates the footspeed, quickness and footwork to separate VERY quickly from his defender. Outside of hands (which is of course a necessity for any receiver), the most valuable trait for a receiver is his ability to create distance between himself and a defender, and do it quickly.
I believe Robinson can do that based on the small sample size I’ve looked at. He’s definitely got the ability in his feet to make defenders look foolish if they’re not careful, and he showed that more than once.
It's a shame Alex got sacked (unavoidable) on this play b/c Robinson just cooked his guy w/ a quick stutter. Hill did on other side too. pic.twitter.com/p0cflcEh0G— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 17, 2017
Robinson’s fake here is so subtle that you almost miss it the first time. I actually thought the defender was biting on some kind of play action or that the throw was already starting (or some other issue caused the defender to get flat-footed like that). It wasn’t until I slowed down the video that I realized Robinson didn’t just slow up a bit, he made a VERY quick and VERY subtle fake outside that completely bamboozled the defender. Robinson is back up to top speed in a split second and he is just GONE.
(Please, for the love of all things good and pure, don’t comment about how Alex should’ve hit him there. The sack on this play was utterly unavoidable)
Robinson, like I’ve said repeatedly, has extremely quick feet from all appearances, and he doesn’t waste many steps in his routes. Because of that, he’s able to stop and start on a dime. That’s how he achieved most of his separation, though he APPEARS to have just enough top-end speed to separate vertically as well. But where Robinson really wins is with outs, ins, curls, and comeback routes. I’d like to see him be a higher priority in the reads Thursday, as he showed (in flashes) the ability to separate quickly, a highly valuable commodity.
I don’t have a good gif to show it, but Robinson also does a nice job staying active against zone coverage and looking for soft spots. He doesn’t just settle into his route if it’s not open. He also seems to have a good idea for when to break out of his route and into schoolyard ball (something we saw him do with some success in the preseason. These are positive traits that I saw demonstrated multiple times against the Steelers’ tough zone overage, which was giving the Chiefs fits throughout the day.
As far as blocking goes ... well, Robinson isn’t Conley. He’s just not as big and strong, though at 6’1 and over 200 pounds he’s not really a small receiver. Conley had developed into a brute against smaller CBs, and Robinson just lacks that kind of strength. Robinson is a high-effort guy as a blocker, though, and had a couple of nice blocks on the day in WR screen situations. He also had a great block on Alex’s magical escape play.
It's a shame, because this was an incredible escape by Alex followed by a fun block by Robinson (who I need to look at on all-22). pic.twitter.com/D2YpYfgsi4— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 16, 2017
I dig a receiver who is willing to give a hit. So that’s a positive.
Another positive, though it’s a small sample size and is based partly on preseason football, is that it appears Robinson tracks the ball well and is very good at adjusting to the throw in the air. He showed that on his only catchable target of the night.
Only catchable target of the day for Robinson, he made a nice adjustment (Alex throwing away from zone defender) and catch. pic.twitter.com/UsSLs8YMKf— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 17, 2017
Robinson had to stop and come back for this ball, as Alex (wisely) put it away from a closing zone defender. He didn’t appear to have any trouble doing so, which is a good thing. And of course, there’s the miraculous catch he made in the preseason adjusting to a deep ball from Patrick Mahomes (you all saw it, no need to re-hash it here). Again, TINY sample size, but it’d be great to see what he could do with more shots.
The great equalizer for young WRs is press coverage. If you can’t get off the line, you can’t play. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about Robinson’s ability to beat a jam than I did before watching the film. The only jam he faced he beat handily, but, well...
Robinson handling a jam by brushing aside the defender's hands. OK, that's a good start. Looked for ball in soft spot of zone too. pic.twitter.com/ULc2C4y9cC— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 17, 2017
To Robinson’s credit, he does a nice job brushing off the defender’s attempted jam. On the flip side, that’s not a good attempt at a press by the defender. And that’s literally the only passing play Robinson dealt with an actual jam that I observed. In short, we don’t any real information on a very, very important issue when it comes to succeeding as an NFL wide receiver.
Overall, I was impressed with Robinson. he unfortunately came open on a couple of plays where he was missed (either by the throw or in the reads), so he didn’t have nearly as big a day as he could have (again, no need to re-hash here, I’ll write all about Alex Smith in his review). However, despite that he was able to flash some viable skills that could, if things break right, result in a guy who can help this offense.
Now it’s a matter of taking traits and turning them into production when called upon. Because given the way Alex has played this year, I find it highly doubtful he misses Robinson that much against the Raiders if he continues to get open. And if that happens, we could be saying Demarcus Robinson’s name a whole lot more.