Dallas Cowboys: Laurent Robinson in review (Beware the 1-Year Wonder)

Laurent Robinson, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Laurent Robinson, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /
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Laurent Robinson, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Laurent Robinson, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) /

Athletic Ability

A nice change of pace from my previous film study, Robinson was a very good athlete in almost every test. (If you haven’t read the study on Terrance Williams, please do consider clicking on it? I’ll likely reference it a good amount in this article as I make comparisons between the two receivers.) However, as evaluators often point out, play speed and play strength are different than timed speed and measured strength.

How did he perform on the field?

Pretty much the same… Robinson looks explosive on the field as he did in the weight room. At 6-foot-2, 199 pounds he possessed a lean build for someone of his height, almost like Terrance Williams. Robinson has a really long lower body making his upper body short, but incredibly dense. He had the long strides to win vertically but his very good agility and explosiveness for his build were what likely drew interest from the league.

He displayed the acceleration to challenge defensive backs off the line of scrimmage; he possessed good agility, and he displayed good hip flexibility when changing direction. Often for receivers this tall and lean, they don’t sink their hips enough into their breaks. Robinson proved on a consistent basis that he could change direction well.

Teams love picking athletic prospects early in the draft and clearly Robinson didn’t disappoint at his combine. The only numbers that may concern me were his hand and arm length. The hand length will prove to be a non-issue very soon, but his arm length might have capped his potential as a receiver at the next level. When longer cornerbacks look to jam him at the line of scrimmage, the inability to break their grasp with shorter arms can be problematic.

Mental Processing

Robinson has good mental processing vs Zone Coverage. He did show the ability to play through the defensive backs’ blind spots and he understood how to play in front of the defender as well. His athletic ability was a big reason why defensive backs struggle with transition quickness against him, but even so, understanding where to break routes and when to widen/narrow the route stem are incredibly important for receivers because the name of their game is creating space for quarterbacks to throw it to them.

By the same token, he has solid mental processing vs Man Coverage. He possessed a general understanding of how his athletic ability impacted the defender’s leverage so with good acceleration and foot speed, he knew how to stem his routes and when to break. He would occasionally struggle trying to beat defenders out of breaks against off coverage but considering his route tree consisted of mostly vertical routes, this was inevitable.

Lastly, Robinson was a solid run blocker. The Cowboys ran a lot more 12 personnel in 2011 and ran the ball almost 400 times that season. Having wide receivers willing to block on the outside helps facilitate big gains once the running back breaks the contain of the box. This didn’t happen as often as the offensive line that year was very bad, but take nothing away from Robinson’s awareness to know who to block.

Competitive Toughness

Another “right kind of guy” displaying time and time again that he could play through contact through the route stem or at the catch point. Robinson showed he could adjust to balls thrown anywhere near his body and generally came down with them. (He caught 68 percent of his targets)

There weren’t any concerns regarding his effort in his time in Dallas. In games where the team was behind early on, he still showed aggression to help the team score late. There was likely a chip on his shoulder from being on his third team in five years; in the end it seemed to work out for him!

Play Speed

It’s good. I think I’ve reiterated that enough.

Play Strength

Once again, it’s good. He can play through jams at the line of scrimmage; he can play through contact at the catch point. His physical toughness and aggression play a big part but his grip strength and lower body explosiveness are tangible aspects that help with his play strength.