Allow me to provide some context before we start our discussion. The Cowboys offensive line wasn’t very good, hence teams could pressure QB Tony Romo with five players. This often meant good teams played Cover 1 or Cover 2 Man because playing Man coverage is more effective when the quarterback needs to get the ball quickly. Good teams usually have good cornerbacks that can play press coverage. All of a sudden, there is a greater challenge for the offense to move the ball.
Robinson had good releases. Against press coverage, his good foot quickness and hip flexibility allowed him to foot fake and hip fake his way past cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage and then he had the acceleration to stack defenders pretty immediately. This was great working vertically and for timing throws like slants and digs where the quarterback expects the receiver to be at a specific spot when he releases the ball.
In off coverage, he was the same, if not better. In off man, his good acceleration consistently challenged the leverage of the defender off the line of scrimmage. He quickly covered ground and pretty easily found himself within a foot’s distance of his defender in order to break. Often playing as a Z receiver in a vertical passing offense, good releases in off coverage is a must and a big reason why he could win at different areas of the field playing running towards different spots of the field. Forcing the cornerback to bail quickly in off coverage usually is a good thing.
9 inch hands can be a turn off for teams because it can put a cap on a receiver’s grip strength but Robinson was a strong individual and often could make catches away from his body either above or below his shoulder pads. Robinson was a very nice change of pace from fellow Baylor Bear Terrance Williams who was a notorious body catcher!
We talked just now about Robinson’s good dexterity, but how did that play into the larger idea of his adjusting ability?
Robinson was very good at adjusting to passes. He has good balance, body control, and ball tracking ability that allow him to locate the ball in the air and then his good explosiveness allow him to outjump and outadjust his opponent in the air. His good body control prevent opposing contact from disrupting him at the catch point and he had the dexterity to bring the ball down through contact for catches.
In an offense that wanted to work vertically but didn’t always have the time to wait for receivers to generate separation quickness down the field, such a trait was incredibly useful. WR Dez Bryant was super effective for Dallas because his adjust ability was elite so the team could constant rep back shoulder fades for touchdowns. Players like Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson also had such ability and, as a result, had stretches of productivity in this offense with Romo as the signal caller.
There aren’t any caveats to Robinson’s contested catch ability. It was very good across the board.
Yards after Catch
Robinson was solid in this department. His instincts were okay after the catch displaying a solid ability to find open space immediately and his solid play strength and good physical toughness usually helped him generate yards after contact. Considering his build and explosiveness this seemed inevitable but it was good that he still executed!