Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
On Thursday, Arrowhead Pride’s Matt Lane highlighted Kansas City Chiefs third-year wide receiver Demarcus Robinson in his Chiefs On The Rise series.
Being able to perfect his timing with a single quarterback would allow Robinson to excel as a receiver — one that is slightly different than anyone else on the team — and allow him to get a more steady stream of targets. Even as a third or fourth receiver, he could carve out a niche for himself - as long as Mahomes knows where he’ll be and when he’ll be there.
Right on cue, during Thursday’s practice session at Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, Robinson caught some attention from our own Pete Sweeney, who posted this video on Twitter.
D-Rob with the exclamation point on a good day at training camp. pic.twitter.com/SsY4RLaoTr— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) August 2, 2018
And then this one from Thursday’s one-on-one drills:
Who ya got? Demarcus Robinson vs. Steve Nelson pic.twitter.com/j7jVTKRh8c— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) August 2, 2018
During Sunday morning’s session, Robinson made multiple catches that drew appreciation from those watching — including another matchup with Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson.
Demarcus Robinson with a great route and grab over Steven Nelson pic.twitter.com/V59c3VThIm— Tom Martin (@TomKCTV5) August 2, 2018
And then this happened — again against Nelson.
Ever since his arrival in 2016 as a fourth-round pick out of Florida, Robinson — just 23 years old this season — has had his share of devoted fans in the preseason. He made the team as a special teams player in 2016, and despite appearing in every Chiefs game since his arrival, he didn’t get any regular-season work as a wideout until last season. Still, he was impressive in his limited role — most notably in the playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.
As Matt Lane noted last week, the key for Robinson stepping up as a Chiefs receiver may lie in improving his route knowledge and execution, because Florida’s passing game was underdeveloped.
Robinson is still expanding his route tree, while also trying to run them all proficiently. This makes it a longer process. Still, on release, his hands and feet have improved greatly, his breaks are numerous and explosive, and he plays well over his toes. His spacing and depth are still a work in progress; he’ll play into a defensive back’s leverage a bit too often, and will shortchange some routes when he absolutely can’t.
Matt also pointed out that it’s even harder for a receiver to expand his route tree in a program like Kansas City’s.
In an Andy Reid West Coast offense, receivers must learn the X, Z, and slot positions, which makes learning the routes - and their technicalities - more difficult.
Reid himself alluded to this same issue in his remarks about Robinson after Sunday’s practice session.
“We’re moving him around to a lot of different positions,” Reid said. “He’s doing a nice job with it. It’s important when you’re in that role - and this is kind of new for him, right? - that you’re always going back and reviewing, and staying up on it. We’re still doing our installs here, but he’s handled it very well. I’m proud of him for that.
”I think he’s built on [his performances from last season]. It’s a nice little foundation that he has. He knows he can play, but he knows he’s got to continue to grow at that position. [Learning how to be an NFL wide receiver] takes time, but he’s pounding through that.”
Robinson — who is now wearing number 11, as he did in high school and college — agreed with his head coach when he spoke to the media on Sunday.
“The biggest challenge is learning your plays and getting into the playbook ... staying after hours to get it on your own, because you can only get so much learning inside the stadium with the coaches.”
Robinson has shown plenty of talent as a wide receiver in his limited opportunities with the Chiefs.
Now listed as a second-string wide receiver alongside Chris Conley in the first unofficial depth chart of the season, he’s likely to have more of them when the Chiefs play the Texans on Thursday night.