Player capsule: Zach Robertson
Position: Offensive line
Weight: 325 pounds
2016 season quick review: Robertson started the season opener last year at right tackle for the Sun Devils but was subsequently replaced in the starting lineup when ASU shifted Stephon McCray to guard and Quinn Bailey to tackle. Later in the season, a rash of injuries pushed Robertson back into the starting lineup for a four-game stretch from Washington State to Washington, in which he played both right tackle and right guard. For the bulk of the season, Robertson was ostensibly ASU's sixth offensive linemen.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: It remains the case that Robertson is one of ASU's highest ceiling offensive linemen when projecting long term. He has impressive physical stature and has greatly improved his physique over the last two years, losing a lot of the excess weight and as a result improving his mobility. Robertson is big and broad, looking the part of an SEC-type lineman, and has the versatility to play right tackle or guard at the highest college level.
Robertson isn't someone who just looks the part. He has large, heavy hands and natural strength. He's someone who can stun defensive linemen at the point of attack with a violent punch. Due to his length and potency Robertson has a little more margin for error with leverage and locating his hands relative to some of his peers. He's less susceptible to bull attacks when aligned inside and projects to being able to wear on lighter or less physical peers as he continues to physically mature.
We like Robertson more at guard and believe that's where his future is best served. Robertson has told us he thinks he's further along at guard than tackle because it's more in his wheelhouse from a skill set standpoint. ASU has tinkered with Robertson at left and right tackle and also guard. His versatility for the college game is a strong asset. Long term Robertson doesn't have the foot quickness to be a left tackle beyond college and probably won't be best suited for right tackle.
Robertson would be best developed to be a body-mover and pocket integrity provider at guard, a player capable of mauling defenders in tighter quarters. He has the potential in the Pac-12 to be very physical and dislodging at the point of attack when he's fully initiated, so long as he continues to develop strong leveraging techniques and refinement of his footwork in setting up blocks, particularly with getting to places on the field that are more demanding from a mobility standpoint.
This is an important summer for Robertson. He has leaned out quite a bit the last couple years and gotten himself into a position where he can now really strap on additional muscle and improve a natural asset. From a mentality standpoint, being an every rep player and bringing an edge of intensity on a daily basis into the practice setting is going to be an essential step under first-year offensive line coach Rob Sale. That's the pathway to being a mainstay starter for the Sun Devils.
Projected depth chart status: At the beginning of spring ball we were interested to see whether ASU's new coaches would put Robertson or Steve Miller at right guard with the first unit. As it turned out, Robertson didn't participate in the first practice due to what ASU coach Todd Graham termed a disciplinary reason, and Robertson didn't fully practice in the first couple sessions. It wasn't a great start to the spring and now Robertson will likely have to push past Miller if he's to become a starter. If not, he's clearly the first player off the bench for the Sun Devils at either right tackle or right guard.