Much of the attention around the draft goes to the players at the top of the draft. They’re the best players with the most highlight-reel tape, and the broadest name recognition.
The New York Giants have a plethora of needs but only one pick at the top of the draft. We won’t know for sure how they will spend that pick until draft night, but they can’t address all of their needs with the fourth overall pick.
But there are still players down the draft board who will fill needs for teams and will be counted on to form the cores of rosters.
Defensive end and EDGE rusher Alton Robinson out of Syracuse could be one of those players who probably won’t be drafted early but could still help a team.
Prospect: Alton Robinson (EDGE, Syracuse)
Games Watched: vs. Liberty (2019), vs. Clemson (2019), vs. Pittsburgh (2019), vs. Duke (2019)
Red Flags: none
Games Played (starts): 36 (34 starts)
Tackles For a loss: 34.0
Forced Fumbles: 5
Games Played (starts): 12 (12 starts)
Tackles For a loss: 9.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Best: Play strength, first step, athleticism
Worst: Agility, hand usage
Projection: A rotational defensive end in a one-gap defensive front.
Robinson has a good blend of size, athleticism, and play strength to be a defensive end in a 4-3 defensive front. He has a good get-off, with a sudden first step which can pressure tackles when timed well. Robinson has very good play strength as a rusher, which is improved by consistently good leverage and pad level. He is able to move offensive tackles and can overpower tight ends and running backs who stay in to pass protect. He flashes an effective long-arm move which keeps blockers from locking in and gaining leverage on him.
Robinson flashes good grip strength and pad level to maximize his play strength, allowing him to torque and shed blockers to make plays on the ball. He is a disciplined run defender who remains true to his assignment in RPO or Read-Option defense.
Robinson’s agility is a question and he can struggle to change directions fluidly. This leads to a lot of wasted motion in his arms to compensate and difficulty finishing plays when he arrives at the ball carrier. Robinson also needs to further improve and refine his hand usage to keep blockers from knocking him off of his rush. He also needs to develop a true speed counter to his power rushes.
Overall Grade: 6.1 - Has some limitations which could prevent a projection to being a consistent starter, but has the traits to be a reliable backup or rotational player. Early Day 3 value. [Grading Scale]
Robinson projects as a rotational EDGE in a one gap front. Robinson has the potential to be a good pass rushing option with enough play strength to be a power rusher as well as the speed and quickness to be a speed rusher. As of now, he favores power over speed, relying on bull rushes and long-arm moves to beat blockers. He has the first step and flashes the bend to add a speed counter to his game, but will need to develop a reliable move to unlock that upside.
If he does, that could make him a consistently dangerous pass rusher and allow him to play to the potential he flashed in 2018 (10.0 sacks, 17.0 tackles for a loss). Improving his hand usage would also help Robinson finish at the quarterback, as he was often knocked off his rush at the last instant by blockers.
Robinson has good leverage and play strength, letting him control blockers in the run game, with the ability to shed blocks and make tackles to stop the ball carrier.
Robinson might be able to claim a starting job in the right scheme — his athletic profile is remarkably close to that of Yannick Ngakoue. That being said, he is likely best thought of a rotational player a team can count on for significant snaps.