Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft starting on April 29th, we will be releasing several draft profiles of prospects who could potentially see themselves on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Next up…
Aaron Robinson (Cornerback), UCF, Redshirt Senior
Robinson weighs in at 190lbs, standing at 6′ and is one of the best slot cornerbacks in the draft.
Aaron Robinson was a coveted recruit late in the process that flipped from the Florida Gators to Alabama late in the recruiting season. After getting little playing time in a crowded DB room, he sat out 2017 and transferred to UCF. After having limited playing time in 2018, he performed very well in 2019 where he primarily played in the slot. Some thought he might enter the 2020 NFL Draft after his breakout season, but he elected to return to school to continue improving his game. Robinson had a bit of an up and down final season in coverage, but he managed to improve his weaknesses that were present. He became a much more well rounded corner who is reliable in multiple coverages and a sure tackler. Robinson returning to school was a solid decision as it answered questions many people had.
- Good size, especially for a slot corner
- Showed some versatility to play outside in college
- Quickness in his feet is some of the best in the draft
- Coverage versatility, comfortable no matter what coverage he is in
- Good instincts in man coverage
- Quick burst when reacting to what he sees
- Willing tackler
- Greatly improved as a tackler in 2020
- Good ball skills when facing the line of scrimmage
- Quick hips when turning in space
- Long speed, not an elite athlete
- Some experience outside, but not enough to eliminate questions
- Physical to a fault, could result in penalties in the NFL
- Average instincts in zone coverage
- With his back to the line of scrimmage he has average ball skills
- Is susceptible to getting beat on double moves
With the first few weeks of free agency coming and going, Steeler Nation has quickly realized cornerback is likely a rising need on the team, and Robinson is a great option for a team that is always looking to add to their secondary.
With a wealth of experience in both man and zone coverages, Robinson can come in to almost any scheme and hold his own. While it has been mostly from the slot, Robinson has been a very good man coverage corner who has a lot of snaps in both press and off man coverage. He has very quick feet that allow him to mirror receivers and not let them create separation, while also making them feel his presence at the top of the route. In zone coverage he has shown the ability to play the ball well and keep his eyes on the quarterback. He does need to improve in seeing the route concepts entering his zone. Seems almost as if he is more conservative in zone coverage not wanting to make the wrong decision, but he has usually made the correct decision so he should just trust his eyes. He hasn’t had a lot of trouble with receivers with top end speed in college, but his game speed has looked average at times which is something to keep an eye on.
Facing the line of scrimmage and the quarterback, Robinson does a very good job of playing the ball and reading the field. He appears to feel much more comfortable moving forward going for the ball than he does with his back to the line of scrimmage. However, it would have still been nice for him to be able to turn more deflections into takeaways, as he only had three interceptions over the last two seasons when he had the potential for a few more. When he has his back to the line of scrimmage, he does a good job of getting his hands to the catch point to contest the receiver, but he does struggle to locate and track the ball. He doesn’t get his head around early enough to truly play the ball and give himself a chance to take it away. In man, he does a good job of understanding the route concepts and seeing the play coming, but doesn’t seem to trust it as much in zone. He is usually right, so if he trusts himself more in his zone coverage, he should be able to become more of a playmaker.
With his size in the slot, Robinson can be an imposing presence in the run and screen game. He doesn’t hesitate at all to stick his nose in when defending runs or screens, and is always physical when taking on blocks. He made significant strides in improving his tackling in 2020 which helped eliminate one of his biggest weaknesses to that point. Blitzing off of the edge is also something he has done occasionally in college, and had some success with as well. He does a good job timing it up with the snap and not giving away his rush too early to where the offense can identify him. Overall, he checks almost all the boxes you want for a corner in the tackling department. He could afford to improve his hand usage when it comes to getting off blocks on screens as opposed to trying to force his way through them, but that is a bit of nitpicking.
NFL Comparison – Marlon Humphrey
Similarly to Robinson, Humphrey is a taller, very physical cornerback who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the pile. Humphrey has made a name for himself as one of the best slot corners in the league, and it stems from his ability to use his size and physical play to give most slot receivers major issues. Both are more quick than fast, and while neither are true ball hawks, they both are able to do enough in that regard to make them an asset.
Draft Projection – 2nd Round:
Coming back for his final season may not have vaulted Robinson into the first round consideration like he would have hoped. However, he has pretty much solidified himself as one of the best slot corners in this draft, and it would be surprising to see him fall to round 3.
Let us know below what you think about Robinson as a prospect, and let us know what other prospects you could be interested in seeing a profile on!