Dematha Catholic (Hyattsville, Maryland) cornerback Robbie Robinson is as diminutive a player as you're likely to see Arizona State sign, at about 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds.
Though he's certainly on the small side, Robinson is not the type to back down from contact. His film conveys a player who is among the more physical corners ASU has signed in recent years, but he also uses that attribute in strategic and well-conceived ways on the field. Robinson strikes a really admirable blend of tackling force and technique given his size.
Robinson almost always wins the leverage battle as a tackler and tracks to the hip properly to close space strategically, while keeping his shoulder pads square, and though he isn't lanky, uses his arms and hands in a way that maximizes what he has to work with. Robinson really understands angles on the field and has strong hand strength, which helps offset his shorter tackle radius. These are key traits that enable smaller players to be successful at higher levels of football.
In terms of coverage, the most striking thing about Robinson is how efficiently he re-directs. He has very quick, nimble feet that turn over with a lot of RPMs and his hips enable him to maximize this in a way that gets him to sharper angle route transitions more quickly than a lot of Division I cornerback prospects. Working against underneath routes and quick-hitting slants and screens is going to be a strength for Robinson. He's also a very good pairing with ASU junior college mid-year addition J'Marcus Rhodes because their strengths and non-strengths are opposite one another.
I like Rhodes more as a field side coverage corner and Robinson as more of a boundary option with how ASU likes to utilize those players. I'd rather have a safety rolled over Robinson or use him in blended coverage and as a blitzer, while Rhodes' length and skill set indicates more of a island player. ASU likes to most often blitz in a way that leads to its field safety being in man coverage and the field corner on his own. With Robinson, Rhodes and junior college mid-year addition Maurice Chandler -- a player with the size of Rhodes but is athletically somewhere in between Robinson and Rhodes in the best of ways -- ASU has a great blend of cornerback options in this class.
Robinson is like a lot of similarly sized guys, as he's quicker than fast. He's not a burner, not a great recovery player. He tends to grab when he feels out of phase, which is a bad habit that Armand Perry -- another talented player -- needed to break when working at corner. It's a common thing for a lot of players to have that and is kind of random in terms of how players get over it. Some have no problem with it and others don't get comfortable and it's more of a struggle. Robinson hasn't played a lot with his back to the ball but seems to do alright in that regard when he's in phase.
The drawbacks are non-elite speed, which is more of an issue the shorter a cornerback is, below average hand length, which can be a problem in press coverage against bigger wide receivers. These guys can get to Robinson more quickly and easily in the hand combat and ward off displacement and re-route attempts. Robinson uses his hands well in these situations, but it's still going to be a limitation. Length and size are very important at all positions and certainly at cornerback. If there's a reason Robinson isn't a four-star, that's it. But it doesn't mean he can't be a very good or even great college player at the highest level.
One of the best things about Robinson is he comes across as a smart player on film. He has good anticipation in all aspects, is probably going to be a good special teams player and a high energy player. With a reported 4.2 grade-point average and the way he talks and looks on film, this is a high intangibles addition for the Sun Devils as well as a good overall college football prospect. How well he ultimately does will be determined by how much he's limited by his size.