Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Positional Analysis: Defensive End, Part 5/7

After a long weekend of inactivity I'm ready to pick up where I left off with the defensive end positional analysis. If you haven't read them already I encourage you to at least check out the first four installments of this piece.

Part 1: Overview and analysis of Kenechi Udeze
Part 2: Analysis of Erasmus James
Part 3: Analysis of Darrion Scott
Part 4: Analysis of Ray Edwards

Today however we move on to the much anticipated first look at Brian Robison, a player many Vikings fans are, for better or worse, overwhelmingly excited about.

Brian Robison: #96/6'3"/259/Texas/#102 overall pick of 2007 Draft

College: Robison was brought to the University of Texas in 2002 and was redshirted his first year. In his second season (redshirt freshman year) he played in 13 games and started 3 at inside linebacker, registering 38 tackles and blocking four kicks. The next season he made the switch to the right defensive end position and showed that he could be used effectively there, though he was still obviously more of a run stopper, recording 48 tackles (14 for a loss) but only 1.5 sacks in 12 games.

His junior campaign of 2005 was clearly Robison's best year as he started all 12 games he played in, registering an impressive 58 tackles (15 for a loss) and seven sacks. His numbers regressed a bit during his senior season as he battled right knee and leg problems. He recorded 37 tackles (9 for loss) and 5.5 sacks in 12 games.

Combine: Robison was a combine warrior this past winter as he recorded event highs for the defensive end position in seven of the eight measured events. Placing second only once to top defensive end prospect Gaines Adams in the 40 yard dash, though he was quick to point out that his 10 yard dash was better than Adams'. He has a point as the 10 yard dash is clearly more relevant to the defensive end position than the 40.

The problem of course is that Robison has always been a bit of an athletic freak, yet never registered the mind blowing numbers you'd have expected from a player of his calibre. He's always been fast, always strong, and always a great leaper. The question of course is whether he can translate those numbers in the workouts into numbers of sacks and quarterback hurries consistently at the top level of professional football.

Forecast: As I stated just a couple sentences ago, there is absolutely no doubt in anyones mind as to the physical prowess of Brian Robison, he is an athletically gifted human being who has the potential to excel. Regretfully to say for Vikings fans I think their enthusiasm ought to be tempered with the reality that very few people around the NFL are predicting great things for Robison. This fact is obviously highlighted by his being taken in the fourth round, and he seems to lack the knowledge of how to compete against more talented offensive tackles or even the ability to translate his talents into turning the corner on what should be easy prey at the college level.

I'd predict that he plays in maybe a handful of games this season at defensive end this season, while he learns the nuances of how to play the position in the NFL from the vets. I doubt he'll record a sack and will probably see fewer than 50 snaps. Where he could make a mark is in a 3-4 scheme as a blitz linebacker, or on special teams where his enormous physical talents wont be impeded by 320 offensive linemen to whom he gives up around 50 pounds.

Given a couple of years of solid coaching (not that he didn't get that at college powerhouse Texas) and a staff that knows how to utilize him, he could become a very good player, I just don't think it'll ever be at defensive end. However, if he is used right he could become an explosive player in the mold of Adalius Thomas. And while some might consider that a stretch, lets remember that it took four years of development in Baltimore before Adalius really figured it out and became a dominant play-maker. Sure thats a stretch but he does have phenomenal talent and a creative coaching staff may just figure out his Rubik's Cube.

More Brian Robison Stuff

- Watch Video of Robison at Click the link at the bottom right of his profile.
- NFL Draft Countdown
- prospect profile
- profile


Anonymous said...

I think you need to wait and see what his playing ability is before you start saying what he is and isn't capable of doing. If you have seen any of his films you will see that he was always being double and triple teamed and was still able to get his sacks. If you look at his junior year you can see what he is cable of doing. As it has been said he fought pneumonia the first 2 games of his senior year, was leg whipped in the 4th game and also turned his ankle. Therefore, he did not have a knock out year. Also, to set the record straight, he took Crowder's position as the power end because Crowder could not do the job. Again, if you look at the films you will see that the quarterbacks never threw the ball to Brian's side of the field. So before you go knocking a player give him a chance to prove what he can do.

Corey Ettinger said...

You make a valid point, however it's sort of my job to make predictions. As for the predictions I made, I stand by them 110%. If he out preforms you can come back and say "I told you so," and I'll be thrilled to be wrong.

As for film, I have watched some film of him and I'm extremely underwhelmed. at his performance as a D-end when rushing the quarterback. The film I provided to the readers shows that he got at least a couple of his sacks against a very mediocre right tackle from Texas Tech.

If you care to, go back and look at the game logs from his career at Texas, most of his sacks came against inferior competition, suggesting to me he may not be that good, which is a very logical conclusion.

I do however state, and really believe, that he has huge potential if used right and given time. The question is whether or not the Vikings coaching staff will know how to use him.

Looking at the tapes one thing that stands out to me is he has very good/exceptional footwork (from his discuss and shot put days? Probably!) and moves well in space, but tends to get tied up against good blocking.

From that I make the logical inference that as an undersized lineman he may be better utilized as a blitz linebacker in a 3-4.

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