Many scouts will be on hand for the National Championship game tonight in Glendale, Arizona. The game will be a fantastic match-up between two well coached teams that include up to 28 NFL prospects. According to CBS.com Clemson has 12 prospects and Alabama has 16 that all have a chance of playing on Sundays.
Alabama’s defense is a unit that plays a very similar two gap system that the Bills’ Rex Ryan loves to run.
Needless to say there are a few blue chip players on that defense who are going to get hard looks by Bills scouts tonight. The Bills have some major decisions to make on Mario Williams (13% towards cap) and an aging Kyle Williams (5% towards cap) both of whom account for a total of 18 % towards the 2016 salary cap. Based on the moves they make with the defensive line, scouts will be watching the ‘Bama defense very closely tonight.
Two of those studs play on the defensive line, Jarron Reed and A’Shawn Robinson. Both players are very similar but I want to focus on A’Shawn Robinson. I believe that he has a higher ceiling and room to continue to grow. Robinson is a junior but with how high he is ranked, I don’t think there is anyway that he doesn’t make the jump to the NFL.
Robinson is listed at 6’3″, 312 pounds and he plays the game with every inch and pound of it. That size and length is a common characteristic in Rex’ defense. It is what led he and Mike Tannebaum to draft Muhammad Wilkerson (6’4″, 315, reach 35 1/4″), Sheldon Richardson (6’2″, 294, reach 34 1/2).
According to Sports-Reference.com, Robinson had 49 solo tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 9 sacks, 5 passes defensed and forced a fumble from 2013-2015. That many tackles for loss in a two gap system is a good predictor for his likely success in the NFL in any defense. It is a testament to his quickness and recognition skills.
Rex Ryan defenses always showcase good defensive lineman who enjoy leading roles in his defense. The bigger the role the more responsibility and difficulty for that unit. Rex stated in his book that when looking for defensive lineman he looks for the following six characteristics in a player:
- Recognition skills
Lets take a look at some film and check if A’Shawn has the characteristics that Rex Ryan looks for in a defensive lineman.
Look at his first step. He’s aligned over the LG. He pushes the B gap then over powers the guard to get the inside track to the QB.
Robinson is aligned over the LG but is blocked by the LT. His conversion from quickness to a power rush move re-establishes the line of scrimmage and forces the QB to change direction.
Defensive lineman must be able to change direction as they react to the play. Robinson does just that here. He’s aligned over the LG, the blitz then pressure by Robinson force the QB out of the pocket. Great showcase of his agility in short space.
Robinson engages the center, overpowers him gives him a swim move. He showed that even with his size he can show the proper leverage from the snap to the end of the play. Good sack vs. Manziel.
This kind of power can be seen on every snap when he is aligned versus a guard. He gets under the lineman and pushes the pocket.
Look at him control the lineman with leverage and power. Keeps his outside shoulder free and generates the power to shed the block when the back runs outside.
Robinson feels the screen coming and pulls back on rushing the QB. He almost gets the pick. According to CBS.com, the ‘Bama coaches have said that he is one of the most intelligent players on the team.
He may not have top speed but he consistently pushes the pocket and routinely gets pass deflections. He is a guy that has already filled out his frame giving him the lower leg strength to push the pocket.
The Bills may be looking for depth along the defensive line with Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant being free agents. But Whaley has mentioned that he plans on drafting the best available player. At 19th overall, if A’Shawn Robinson falls to them don’t be surprised if the Bills think long and hard about drafting him. He would be the perfect for the Rex Ryan’s two gap heavy defense. He is a player that is not totally developed yet. He has NFL strength but he is still improving on his pass rush. Something that makes him an even better prospect, because he has not yet his ceiling. Be sure to watch for #86 tonight on the field for the Alabama Crimson Tide!