The Pittsburgh Steelers made a unique move by selecting former University of Mississippi middle linebacker Mark Robinson with the 225th pick in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft. I say unique, due to the fact that Robinson himself started off his collegiate career with a different position in mind, only to finish it as the team’s starting inside linebacker at a top tier college program within the SEC.
Robinson started off his college career, believe it or not, as a running back where he was admitted to both Presbyterian College in South Carolina and then transferred to Southeastern Missouri, both FCS programs within the college game. Robinson proved himself within both programs with his work ethic and decided he wanted more of a challenge. That decision led him to a transfer to Ole Miss where he thought he would be able to work his way up the depth chart in the offensive backfield. Playing time was limited at that particular position and the coaching staff thought he would be best utilized at a different position. Although hesitant at first, Robinson made the most of the opportunity.
Robinson even went as far as to call the transition from running back to linebacker, “life changing,” stating that the move was, “the best decision I ever made.”
“I love linebacker,” Robinson said. “For me, it was a confident switch, a good switch. It’s fun. I look forward to it. I love being on defense, hitting guys. I want to run around, play physical. They are going to know when I am out there. I am an energetic guy, and I am going to lurk and play ball.”
Although only playing in one full season as the team’s starting linebacker, his performance was good enough to garner attention throughout the NFL Draft process. In 13 total games as a linebacker with the Rebels in 2021, Robinson recorded a total of 91 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 total sacks. His skill set was one that attracted most NFL teams. He has the speed of a running back, with the toughness of a middle linebacker. Although he may be a work in progress, his potential was something the Steelers clearly believed in.
“I definitely feel like every team besides this organization didn’t believe in who I was, but that is fine. I am here for the people who believe in me.”
The rookie has done everything in his power to become a regular with those involved in the organization. He has made himself available for rookie minicamp, OTAs, and mandatory minicamp using every opportunity to make sure he can continue to learn the position in hopes of making the Steelers roster once the regular season kicks off.
“I know what I bring to the table. I have to show up prepared so I can be the best me, put my best foot forward. Everything else will fall into place. I need to just keep taking care of my body, studying my playbook, just having the right mindset, believing in who I am and getting ready to show them what I can do.”
“It’s a different purpose for me. I know what I went through to be here. I never take it for granted. When I touch the field, I am going to give it everything I have got. I am going to run the fastest, hit the hardest, and let everything work itself out.”
What Robinson’s impact will be hasn’t exactly been laid out yet. The Steelers released Joe Schobert early in the off-season process, but countered that move by signing Myles Jack to a two-year contract to be Devin Bush’s counterpart in the middle of the defense. Robinson certainly adds depth to a position of need, and we do not know how much of an impact he will have in just his first season. Robinson does have potential on his side, and can use this first season to prove he belongs in the league long-term.
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