We have no idea what’s going to happen to football this fall, but regardless of whether the season actually occur or not, there’s going to be an NFL Draft later this month.
The Syracuse Orange haven’t had a ton of players selected in the draft lately, but that fact could change this year with four players attending the Scouting Combine. So while we didn’t love the results of this past season, getting a few players into the NFL could be a positive conclusion that helps the program going forward, too.
Before the draft — currently scheduled for April 23-25 — we’re going to profile all of the Syracuse players that warrant consideration to be picked (and some of those that appear to be likely undrafted free agent pick-ups).
Name: Alton Robinson
Position: Defensive end/Edge rusher
Weight: 264 lbs.
Hometown: Converse, Tex.
NFL Draft Projections: Somewhere between second and fourth round
2019 Stats: 9.5 tackles for loss (4.5 sacks), 46 tackles, 10 QB hurries, three pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
Career Stats: 32.5 TFLs (19.5 sacks), 115 tackles, 26 QB hurries, five pass break-ups and five forced fumbles.
Game to Watch: 2018 at Pittsburgh (four tackles for loss, including two sacks), plus two forced fumbles and eight tackles. Robinson absolutely manhandled the Panthers during this one, in spite of SU losing in overtime.
Scouting Combine Performance:
Among the non-first round projections, Robinson was among the combine’s most impressive performers. He came in third among all defensive linemen with a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, was second in the vertical leap (35.5 inches), eighth in broad jump (119 inches) and second in 20-yard shuttle (4.32 seconds). He also had 25 bench press reps, plus a 7.32-second three-cone drill.
Following the event, NFL scouts rated him as the sort of player who could start within a year or two, which puts him in the second/third round conversation. Certainly his strong Senior Bowl showing also helps out there.
Robinson clearly has big-play ability, gets after opposing passers and is quick to get into the backfield. When he’s on, he’s a dominant force who makes hell for quarterbacks and stifles passing games. He’s also one to cause turnovers — an added bonus on top of the usual pass-rushing skills. While I focused on sacks above, his pursuit abilities have led to a ton of tackles for loss as well. Of course, there’s another side to that story a well...
As mentioned, the other side of that pursuit coin is that at times he just winds up running straight past plays at times. Robinson’s speed also comes from being a little on the lighter end weight-wise for a defensive end. So that potentially puts him in the conversation to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4... but he’s not an outside linebacker. Last year’s lower counting numbers also raised a few eyebrows (though anyone that watched the tape likely saw him doubled quite a bit).
Fun Fact: Robinson’s high school, Judson, holds the all-time Texas record for most consecutive winning seasons, posting one every year from 1977 through last year.
TNIAAM Draft Prediction: The fact that he looked great against fellow future pros in the Senior Bowl could help gloss over some of the potential concerns above. You can teach some technique stuff, but you can’t teach his nose for the football and the aggression that gets him into the backfield. I think scouts will understand that and see the ability he brings to the table. Robinson stands to be picked by the third round, if I had to guess.
Some of the teams looking for defensive end/outside linebacker in that round include the Cardinals, Falcons, Jets and Raiders (among others).