Gerell Robinson has tremendous size for a receiver prospect. It appears he has the frame to legitimately carry over 220 pounds. He isn't there yet, but Robinson has a frame similar to Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. His game is somewhat similar as well. You should also notice how long Robinson is. He has very long arms and more often than not uses them very well.
Once you get past just how big Robinson is, the very next thing that jumps out at you is how fluid and smooth he is. For such a big guy Robinson is an elusive athlete. He is able to make quick cuts with the ball in his hand. While his footwork as a route runner is sub par (which I discuss in the technique section), his footwork with the ball in his hands is outstanding. You don't see many athletes who are 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds show the kind of escapability that Robinson shows quite often. Robinson has a chance to be a dangerous player after the catch. Although you see it at times as a wide receiver, when he was playing quarterback Robinson showed very good vision in the open field.
The Chandler, Ariz. native has good speed but isn't the "burner" that some Notre Dame fans still long for. His speed is good for a player with his physical dimensions. What helps Robinson is that he is so quick off the line, is a long-strider without the ball in his hands, and has the ability to reach full speed at the snap. It's quite unique how different of an athlete Robinson is without the ball in his hands.
When he is running without the ball he shows a long stride and eats up a lot of ground. But he isn't real sharp in and out of his breaks when running routes (which I discuss later). He shows good footwork without the ball but he could use some work. Once the ball is in his hands it's as if a switch has been flipped and he turns into a different player. With the ball in his hands Robinson isn't a strider, shows outstanding foot quickness, and cuts with ease. He's very dangerous with the ball in his hands.
The Hamilton high school star also isn't afraid to use his size to his advantage. Although he must be more consistent, Robinson isn't afraid to mix it up as a blocker. I would imagine as he gets bigger and stronger he'll only get better in this regard. While he shows the elusiveness discussed earlier, the senior prospect also has shown that when the opportunity presents itself he will lower his shoulder and run over the defender. As he transitions into college and becomes more comfortable as a receiver he'll need to rely on his size a bit more, but the fact he has shown it as often as he does tells me he is willing to mix it up.
If you can't catch you can't play wide receiver so I'll first discuss Robinson's ability to catch the football. Even some players with good hands tend to fight the ball a bit. They just don't look smooth and natural all the time when the ball is coming at them. Maurice Stovall is a recent Irish player that was this way. By his senior year Stovall developed very solid hands, but he never looked smooth doing so, and was known to drop a pass here and there. It didn't take away from his talent or make him a liability, it just happened to be a physical trait he possessed. Robinson doesn't have a problem in this regard. He snatches the ball out of the air quite naturally.
When watching film of high school wide receivers one of the first things I look for is whether or not that player catches the ball away from their body or lets the ball come into their chest. For the most part Robinson does a great job of catching the ball away from his body and using his hands. He also has good bend in his arms going after the ball which allows him to absorb the football. The Hamilton star also does a nice job of attacking the football with his hands. Where he needs to improve is to also attack the football with his body. He will catch the ball high on a jump ball or extend his arms out and snatch the ball over the middle.
Where he needs to improve is to be more aggressive to the football with his body. He has a tendency to drift away from the football. On jump balls he'll need to learn to explode up to the football more. Right now he tends to jump and drift together. When working the zones he lets the ball come to him and at times begins to turn away from the ball. This will have to be corrected.
One final criticism is Robinson has a tendency to call for the ball with his arms when running a route. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I hated it as a quarterback and I hated it as a coach. The quarterback will find him, Robinson needs to learn that his job is to run the route and if the ball doesn't come keep working.
As is the case with a lot of high school players, Robinson must learn better ball security. His background as a quarterback doesn't help him in this regard. Often times quarterbacks tend to carry the ball in the open field differently than a running back or wide receiver. At times Robinson can be very sloppy securing the football in the open field. This is something that can be corrected relatively early and with ease.
There is good potential for Robinson as a route runner but his upside here is somewhat limited. At this point Robinson is very raw as a route runner. Again, I am not saying he won't be a great route runner. I am saying, however, that his strengths as a route runner will come from his great get off and his size/strength. It won't be his tremendous footwork. While Robinson has very good footwork with the ball in his hands he doesn't show that same kind of footwork when he is running a route. Robinson tends to get choppy when making downhill cuts. An example of this is a "curl" route or a "comeback" route. He'll need to learn to keep his feet underneath his body, sink his hips more at the top of his break, and be lighter on his feet when making his cuts. This will help him get out of his cuts and breaks much quicker, which will improve his route running.
One thing he has shown at this point is a great take off against softer coverages. Robinson gets off the line well and eats up a ton of ground. He gets on top of and past high defenders very well. This, as well as his outstanding size and strength potential, are Robinson's best attributes as a route runner.
Where Robinson really struggles right now is against good press players. This will get worse in college until he develops a better repertoire of press beaters. One thing that will go a long way to helping Robinson in this department is getting in a better stance at the line of scrimmage when he recognizes press coverage. He needs to stagger his stance more and be prepared to hand fight and give moves at the snap. Robinson also needs to learn to use his hands to beat the press. Right now he allows the cornerbacks to get their hands into him which slows him up off the line and forces him off his stem.
He'll need to develop moves that incorporate his good footwork with hand fighting skills that can be developed at the next level. It's good to have at least two or three ways to beat a press coverage. Often times what moves you use will change week to week. It's up to his coach at the next level to teach him the wide variety of moves as well which moves to use each week.
With his size, strength potential, hands, elusiveness, and vision Robinson has great potential to be a playmaker as a wide receiver. He is a dynamic athlete, but at this point is very raw and will need development as a wide receiver. Once he is able to combine some technique with his outstanding physical skills, Robinson has a chance to make good on the comparisons to Brandon Marshall I made earlier. His skill set also fits in very well into what Notre Dame has shown they need from their wide receivers. The Irish receivers need to be big enough to work the outside, middle, and deep zones and fast enough to get a step on defenders for the deep ball. Robinson has the kind of size, quickness, and speed combination that is suited well for the Notre Dame offense. He also shows the versatility to play a variety of other positions. He has the range and size to play strong safety, where he could potentially excel as a ball hawk. He has the frame to add a bunch of weight and move to linebacker. He could be a quarterback in the spread offense. But wide receiver is the position where his skill set provides the greatest upside. Gerell would be a great addition to an already outstanding recruiting class for the Irish. Whoever lands him is getting one heck of a football player.