When it comes to the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, teams around the league are going to have to rely on the information they already have at their disposal. Pro Days and private workouts have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning nearly every prospects resume was completed after the Scouting Combine nearly a month ago. This is true for all but one NFL hopeful…
Kenny Robinson is a safety prospect in the 2020 draft class no one really knows or is talking about. It's not all that surprising considering the unconventional route he's had to take to get to this point in his career. But that unique path he decided to take could be laying the groundwork for others to follow in his footsteps.
To really understand the unique journey Kenny Robinson is on, you really have to know more about his back story.
From Mountaineer to BattleHawk
Kenny Robinson was a promising safety at West Virginia, where he earned All-Big 12 first-team honors as a sophomore. Unfortunately, that's where his career as a Mountaineer ended. Before he could improve in his junior season he was kicked out of school due to a student code of conduct violation involving academic fraud.
At just 20 years old, Robinson had a big decision to make. He initially entered the NCAA transfer portal and was a highly sought-after player, reportedly drawing interest from powerhouse programs such as Alabama and Oklahoma. However, NCAA rules state that players who transfer must be in good academic standing in order to immediately play for their new school. As such, he likely would have had to sit out an entire season.
About two weeks after getting kicked out of West Virginia, Robinson realized the XFL provided another opportunity for him and decided to enter his name into the XFL Draft. The XFL isn't subject to the same kind of eligibility rules for underclassmen, so he decided to go pro. He became the first player with multiple years of college eligibility remaining and was drafted with the 39th pick by the St. Louis BattleHawks.
While some of his former teammates and colleagues were preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, Robinson was getting paid to play professional football. Because of that, he may actually be ahead of the curve right now. He's already had to learn an NFL defense and has adjusted to the speed of the game. That could lessen his learning curve for whichever team ends up drafting him.
Kenny Robinson finished his XFL season with two interceptions a quarterback sack along with 17 solo tackles in just five games. Add that to what he did at West Virginia and he would have a total of nine interceptions in just 28 games. That's some pretty impressive production for someone who just turned 21 years old.
From XFL to NFL Hopeful
Kenny Robinson's unique journey to the NFL has caused him to be overlooked, almost forgotten, amongst this year's draft eligible safeties. You more than likely won't see his name listed in any mock drafts and the same thing goes for those mock draft simulators we all love so much. It's a shame, because I believe he's a Top 10 player at his position this year.
Robinson's draft projection is a little all over the place right now, understandably so. The academic violation that caused him to get kicked out of West Virginia is a “red flag”, but so was the fact he missed out on the Scouting Combine and the rest of the draft process. That creates quite a bit of unknown and it could cause teams to be a little wary of drafting him.
The Athletic's Arif Hasan likes Robinson's chances of getting drafted, “particularly in the sixth-round”. While Pro Football Focus' lead draft analyst Mike Renner tweeted he'd take Robinson “in the third (round)”.
S Kenny Robinson Jr.:
9 INTs in 28 games between West Virginia and the XFL
Don't forget about the best ball-hawk in the draft class pic.twitter.com/IboxADLNpz
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) March 20, 2020
That's quite a discrepancy, but it's pretty understandable considering the uniqueness of Kenny Robinson's journey/situation.
What would the Cowboys get in Kenny Robinson?
If you're not aware of it by now, I'm a Kenny Robinson fan. At 6'2″ and around 200 pounds, I believe he brings versatility to the position as either a free or strong safety. I'm not alone in this line of thinking though.
Here's what Arif Hasan had to say about Kenny Robinson…
“Kenny Robinson has a lot of natural talent,” said Arif Hasan, who writes about the XFL and NFL Draft for The Athletic. “He has natural receiving skills when he goes up to get the ball, from positioning to hands technique. His speed/strength profile is above average for the position and his natural athleticism, take-on skills and coverage instincts should allow him to play in either the box or as a free safety.”
I don't know about you, but that doesn't really fit with the “six-round” projection Hasan tagged Kenny Robinson with earlier. It contradicts it in my opinion. It's a pretty glowing assessment if you ask me.
That's just one person's opinion though. I believe he kind of contradicts himself, which is why I'm much more interested in what BattleHawks Head Coach Jonathan Hayes had to say about Robinson.
“I think he's going to be fabulous,” Hayes said. “I really do. He's athletic. He's got great range. He's got great ball skills. He's a smart kid, understands the game, very instinctive. Those are the things that you dream for with a safety. He'll come up and put you on the ground. He's a very sure tackler.”
You may disagree, and that you're right, but Kenny Robinson definitely sounds like somebody who can come in and upgrade the Dallas Cowboys safety position. I know they've added Ha Ha Clinton Dix and re-signed Darian Thompson, but I don't view either as an upgrade over Jeff Heath. Safety is definitely a position that could stand to be addressed through the draft.
If the Dallas Cowboys forgo drafting a safety early, like I think they will, Kenny Robinson is someone I believe they should target. I just hope they agree, because I think he could be the upgrade they've been looking for.