Slow Down: PSU's Robinson Not Elite
You don’t catch a Penn State record-breaking 77 passes for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns without talent.
So when Allen Robinson is described as one of the best receivers in the country, no one bats an eyelash.
But numbers can lie, and this time they are only telling half-truths. Robinson, for all of the talent that he does have, isn’t the elite college receiver he has been hyped up to be.
If he were an elite receiver, he should have easily had 20 more receptions for 250 more yards last season. He didn’t.
Instead, his stat line was padded by a number of factors ranging from having a good three-year starting quarterback to compiling one-third of his yards and more than half of his touchdowns against the creampuff defenses of Indiana and Navy.
Robinson still should post obscene numbers against similar Swiss cheese defenses, but between the departure of Matt McGloin and the flaws that nagged him all of last season, he will take a step back against the Big Ten.
Those flaws aren’t shown in his stats. It’s all on tape.
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Robinson regularly failed to win jump balls despite towering over cornerbacks and safeties. However, he often positioned himself well, but alligator arms consistently foiled his efforts.
In fact, Robinson’s allegedly reliable hands were mediocre at best. For example, Robinson dropped five routine passes against Virginia, including one in the end zone in a 17-16 loss. If Robinson had caught those five passes, he would have had five more receptions, 55 more yards, one more touchdown and one more win in one game alone.
Robinson also looked uncomfortable catching passes near the sideline. While he gradually improved on passes to his outside shoulder near the sidelines, he regularly allowed them to sneak through his hands.
Still, none of this means Robinson can’t be elite.
Regardless of Robinson’s shortcomings, he has an excellent understanding of defenses and how to adjust his routes to help his quarterback before the play begins and as a play breaks down.
Robinson also is a surprisingly gifted route-runner for such a big receiver, one of the few that can pull off ankle-breaking double and even triple moves. He often incorporates several small, sharp moves that create separation from defensive backs expecting him to make slow, rounded cuts.
He is willing to run routes across the middle, which may be where he is most effective against defensive backs who are too small to cover him and linebackers who are too slow.
Robinson also uses his body to box out defenders. A standout high school basketball player, he understands how to position his body so only he has a chance to catch the ball. This is evident in all of his routes.
Still, while Robinson is talented enough to be an elite receiver, he hasn’t come close to fulfilling his potential.