The New York Giants made a somewhat surprising, aggressive move up in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL draft to select UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson.
How might Robinson fit into a talent-laden Giants’ secondary in 2021? Let’s take a look as we continue player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Contract: Year 1 of four-year, $5.143 million rookie contract | Guaranteed: $1.1 million | 2021 cap hit: $935,144
Career to date
Robinson played one year at Alabama before transferring to UCF. He was asked about that decision while at the Senior Bowl earlier this year.
“I’ve always had an ultimate goal, and I took a different approach leaving Alabama,” Robinson said on Tuesday night. “I don’t regret it because, thank God, I’m here today competing with the best. It played out great for me. I believe it played out how it was supposed to play out. It’s definitely the ultimate goal that has driven me to get to where I am now.”
#UCF CB Aaron Robinson with fantastic coverage on #Florida WR Kadarius Toney. Great rep. #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/MOF8zhHMOF— Whole Nine Sports (@WholeNineSports) January 26, 2021
Robinson played in 28 games at UCF. He had three interceptions, all in 2019, and finished his career with 17 passes defensed.
Despite a seemingly-crowded secondary, the Giants moved up from No. 76 to No. 71 to ensure they would be able to select Robinson.
“With the value we had on Aaron, I just didn’t want to sit and wait,” GM Dave Gettleman said after the pick, explaining both the trade up with the Denver Broncos and the selection of Robinson. “We just felt — he’s a press corner and really fits what we want to do and who we want to be on defense.”
In his prospect profile of Robinson, our Chris Pflum perhaps foresaw the Giants’ interest, writing “Robinson’s versatility and potential upside make him an intriguing prospect for Patrick Graham’s defense.”
So, now that the Giants have Robinson what are they going to do with him?
The obvious answer is play him in the slot and let him compete for time with second-year man Darnay Holmes. That’s what Chris predicted in analyzing the selection:
“Robinson is at his best inside, lining up at slot corner and providing solid size (5-foot-11, 186 pounds) and long speed. Robinson was disruptive at the catch point, racking up 16 passes defensed, and should allow the Giants to mix more man and zone coverage in their coverage over the middle.”
Chris also mentioned the idea that Robinson could eventually play a slot/safety hybrid role. Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy also believes Robinson could be destined for eventual work at safety.
“He’s great in there at the slot. He’s got great feel,” Nagy said. “I think there’s more swiss army knife to him than he was able to show at UCF. I think he’s got the size and the power to go the outside and play on the outside. And I think that his ability to come down hill and tackle and be a factor versus the run, you could also play him at safety. I think he’s got that kind of versatility once he kind of settles in.”
Robinson gives defensive coordinator Patrick Graham increased ability to both play man coverage and to move his defensive backs around. How much he plays in 2021 is yet to be determined, but his presence should help the secondary.