I get it — Patrick Robinson isn’t the most enticing or exciting option in the world as a starting cornerback.
New Orleans Saints fans are currently foaming at the mouth for a free agent signing of a corner like Richard Sherman to come in and play alongside Marshon Lattimore, hoping for the same success Janoris Jenkins had last year.
But it’s entirely possible that P-Rob may be the starter in Week 1 at outside corner. And even if he isn’t, with the injury rate of defensive players in the NFL, it’s more than likely he’ll at least start a few games in 2021.
While that may leave some people uneasy, if you dig into the numbers and analyze his play over the past few years, you can see that he’s been a stabilizing member of the secondary for the most part — with the ability to cover the slot and bigger receivers on the outside without being torched.
Over the last three seasons combined, he’s played sparingly. But his coverage numbers aren’t bad.
Robinson has only allowed 426 yards, a completion rate of 67.9%, and 11.8 yards per reception. That YPR mark would’ve ranked in the top half of the league in qualifying DBs last year.
The biggest concern with him is his availability, as he’s often been out with injuries. As a result, he only played 531 total snaps combined in those three years.
Throughout his Saints career, P-Rob’s roles have varied. Since he was first drafted, he has switched back and forth from the slot to the outside. He finally landed in a great situation with the Eagles in 2017, where he was one of the best slot defenders in the league. This was before signing with the Saints to play that same role and getting hurt in Week 3, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.
Standing at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, P-Rob isn’t the biggest corner you’ll see. His size combined with some good shiftiness and lower body strength made him a slot prototype. However, he matched up surprisingly well against bigger receivers on the outside last year.
His best game of the year came against the Detroit Lions in Week 4, where his primary matchup was with Kenny Golladay.
He did an excellent job of using his quickness and strength to stay in Golladay’s hip pocket all game, only allowing 33 yards on three targets and breaking up one pass.
In the clip above, he’s in straight-up, man-to-man coverage in Golladay as he tries to run a quick slant. He maintains his inside leverage well and reacts at the right time to come in and break up the pass without interfering with the receiver.
He also picked off a pass while covering tight end TJ Hockenson.
He even drew the matchup with Julio Jones in Week 11, holding him to two catches for 39 yards — which is a win against Julio.
And we know how effective P-Rob can be from the slot. People seem to forget how big of a free agent signing he was in 2018, after that monster year he had in Philly, contributing to a Super Bowl run.
In 2017 — regular season and playoffs combined — he allowed a mere 57.1% completion rate while being targeted 91 times. He picked off five passes while only allowing three TDs and broke up a whopping 13 passes.
He was an absolute stud in zone coverage as a flat/overhang/curl defender and could shut down slot receivers in man coverage when he needed to.
And he had a good start in the slot in 2018 with NOLA before an unfortunate injury.
A couple of seasons and injuries later, he may not be the same player he was in 2017. But those skills are there, and he’s capable of stepping in at the slot position and handling it well if Chauncey Gardner-Johnson or P.J. Williams ever go down.
Like any corner, he has his deficiencies. Due to his lack of size, he can get a little handsy at times. And he doesn’t have top-notch long speed.
But the good news is he has a fantastic set of safeties behind him in Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins that will allow him to be aggressive at the point of attack, similar to Gardner-Johnson.
At the end of the day, P-Rob is not a bad stop-gap solution at corner. He’s an overqualified backup and an average veteran starter at this point in his career. But with a young corner in Paulson Adebo being groomed for a potential starting spot, Robinson could be a good bridge option until/if Adebo is ready to be a starter.
His resume backs that up, and I think he’s being slept on a bit going into the 2021 season.
What do you think of Patrick Robinson? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.