Aaron Robinson will be heavily scrutinized in Year 2 of his NFL career. Robinson will have a big job, replacing James Bradberry as one of the New York Giants’ starting outside cornerbacks. Whether or not he can handle it could have a major impact on how good the Giants will be defensively during the upcoming season.
Let’s discuss that as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
By the numbers
Contract: Year 2 of four-year, $5.143 million rookie deal | 2022 cap hit: $1.1689 million
Career to date
The Giants drafted Robinson in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft, trading up from No. 76 to No. 71 to ensure they would land him. The Dave Gettleman-Joe Judge regime told us they did so with the intent of playing the 6-foot-1, 193-pounder from UCF as a slot cornerback.
Well, things did not really work out that way.
Robinson missed the entire offseason program, training camp and the first seven games of the season after surgery for a core muscle injury suffered while preparing for the draft.
Once he returned, Robinson played 268 defensive snaps over nine games. He did play 92 snaps (34.3 percent) in the slot. Robinson, though, played 149 snaps (55.6) percent as a boundary cornerback. So, his 2022 task is not new to him.
Robinson finished his rookie season with a decent 62.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade and a solid 84.4 passer rating against when targeted.
There are not a lot of enticing options behind him at outside cornerback should Robinson fail. There are journeymen like Maurice Canady and Michael Jacquet, as well as unproven youngsters like Rodarius Williams, Zyon Gilbert and Darren Evans.
So, yes, this is a huge opportunity for Robinson. The Giants need him to succeed. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s “pressure breaks pipes” aggressive pass rush schemes require cornerbacks who can cover 1-on-1 without help.
“You like his length, his competitiveness, his toughness,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said during the spring. “I think putting him outside will simplify his world and let him play fast. I’m excited to see what he does out there.”
Martindale, of course not part of the regime that drafted Robinson, agreed with Henderson that focusing on playing outside should help the second-year cornerback.
“I think that from what I’ve seen, my evaluation with it is the game is slowing down for him, like any rookie going into his second year,” Martindale said. “But when you put him outside, I think it slows it down even more from being inside. It’s like walking in middle of the street when you’re inside, compared to the outside, you’re just standing on the sidewalk and you see things a lot better, a lot easier.”
There is a lot riding on Robinson’s play this season. As Henderson and Martindale anticipate, let’s hope the game slows down for Robinson — fast!