GIANTS SEE MORE IN TE ADRIEN ROBINSON THAN A LACK OF CATCHES IN COLLEGE
"Last season, just as Tom Coughlin was pleading with his players to do the
same, Dave Johnson was telling Adrien Robinson to “finish.”
The Cincinnati Bearcats’ tight ends coach was impressed with Robinson’s
initial contact against defenders. He just wanted to see more, those next few
driving steps needed to complete the block.
On New Year’s Eve, less than a minute into the second quarter of the Liberty
Bowl against Vanderbilt, Robinson finished.
He kicked out the defensive end and passed him off to a teammate and then
engaged the cornerback with his right hand as the defender tried cutting inside.
Robinson shoved the corner to the ground with both hands, taking out another
defender like a bowling pin. He then ran stride-for-stride with running back
George Winn for about 25 yards before blocking one more Vanderbilt player who
tried to submarine him.
“He’s not quitting and understanding we’re going to finish every single
play,” Johnson said by phone last week while recalling Robinson’s blocks on the
Bearcats’ first touchdown that day. “Catching the ball and running routes,
that’s fun for guys. You do that ever since you’re a little kid. But the
blocking part of it is the one that takes discipline and want to.
“Once he understood what the blocks were for and the footwork and all of the
different things that go along with it, that made him better.”
What the Giants see in Robinson, their fourth-round pick in last month’s NFL
Draft, isn’t evident on the stat sheet, where he’s credited with only 12 catches
last year and a total of 29 in his four college seasons.
By those standards, he’d be lucky to be one of the tryout players at Giants
rookie camp this weekend.
What Robinson could bring to the NFL is more evident in moments such as his
handling four Vanderbilt defenders, his wowing scouts at his pre-draft workouts
this spring with a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and the glimpses of athletic ability
the 6-4, 264-pound Robinson showed Giants coaches in four practices over the
past two days.
Such moments prompted Giants general manager Jerry Reese to call Robinson
“the JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) of tight ends.”
An underutilized weapon in a Cincy offense that featured running back Isaiah
Pead, he’s a bit of a project with the chance to contribute immediately at a
position of need for the Giants.
“Obviously the more a guy’s done something and been asked to be a focal point
in the passing game, the further he’s progressed. So I’m sure he’s starting it a
little bit further back,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “But he
looks like a big guy that can run. You just like to see a guy that has the
physical potential to do some things. He looks like he has that.
“Now, how quickly he can assimilate our offense, how quickly he can recognize
what defenses are doing and make the appropriate and correct adjustments, that’s
a long way off.”
Robinson could surprise in that department, though. He’s already made a
couple of impressive catches in practice – one on a short dart above his head he
quickly located and snatched (Coughlin called that play “a plus”) and another on
the final play of Friday afternoon’s practice when he made the catch with a
defender on top of him, even though he broke the wrong way on his route.
Robinson made tough catches in college, too. He had a 72-yarder against Miami
(Ohio) last year when he got better position than the defender and outjumped
“Creating mismatches against linebackers and high-pointing the ball in the
red zone,” Robinson said when asked what he can provide, “because I’m taller and
I can jump, so it’s to my advantage.”
Robinson also has very good hands, which he displayed yesterday by catching a
ball away from his body as former Florida safety and St. Peter’s Prep grad Will
Hill was bearing down on him. In fact, Robinson claimed he didn’t drop a pass
Well, not quite, said Johnson.
“The one in question, we debated it for a while,” Johnson said with a laugh.
“It was a low ball behind him. Kind of behind his calf and he was running away
from the ball. It would’ve been a tremendous catch, but he’s made those
Robinson should get the chance to catch passes up the middle of the field, as
Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard have done in recent years. But those
players first had to show Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope they could block
well enough to earn the starting job. Robinson is trying to do just that, and
Pope was already tinkering with his form this past weekend by telling him to get
his hips more into the initial contact.
Robinson has no problem proving himself as a blocker before getting passes
thrown his way. After all, that’s what he did in college.
“It’s just part of football and being a team player,” he said.
Johnson, a former assistant at Georgia, once told future NFL tight ends
Leonard Pope and Ben Watson they’d have to become better blockers to succeed in
the NFL. He gave Robinson the same advice, and his pupil heeded it.
Such dedication combined with untapped athleticism is why Johnson believes
Robinson has a bright future.
“Football’s a game of movement, and Adrien can move. His size and the ability
to get vertical make him very attractive,” Johnson said. “His ball skills are
very good. And his desire to block is developing. I don’t think he’s reached his
potential in that area at all.
“So he has a lot of potential and, if he continues to work hard and carry
over the things how we finished the season, he’ll be very successful.”