The Chicago Bears are in the third off-season of a three-year process to rebuild the defensive line. The club has used second-round picks on defensive tackles the past two drafts and signed former Patriots DL Akiem Hicks in free agency this off-season.
Yet there is still work left to do, as the Bears are still at least one piece away from having a dominant front line.
With that in mind, I broke down game film of Alabama defensive end A'Shawn Robinson, a Top 15 prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft.
A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama (6-4, 307), Junior, Age: 21
Robinson was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide. As a true freshman, he led the team with 5.5 sacks. He split time between nose tackle and 5-technique defensive end his sophomore year and was named All-SEC. He blossomed into a dominant force his junior season, tallying 46 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, which earned him consensus All-American honors. He was also named a finalist for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation's top defensive lineman.
40-yard dash: 5.20
Bench press: 22 reps
Vertical jump: 26 inches
Broad jump: 8-10
3-Cone drill: 7.80
20-yard shuttle: 4.74
Arms: 34.5 inches
-Immense playing strength. Can absolutely manhandle smaller offensive linemen.
-Effortlessly creates separation with arm extension. Easily sheds once he locks his arms.
-Combination of size and power makes him nearly impossible to move off his spot. Ability to push back double teams. Eats up blockers.
-A man among boys, he'll win every physical battle in the trenches.
-Consistent pad level off the ball.
-Can push the pocket in the face of the quarterback. Once he's on the blocker's hip, he's nearly impossible to slow down.
-Sound tackler. Once he gets his paw on the ball carrier, the play is over.
-Played goal-line fullback for Alabama in jumbo packages.
-Slow off the ball. He's typically the last one out of his stance.
-Doesn't have active feet. Tends to lumber and his feet get heavier as the game progresses.
-Lacks pass-rush arsenal. Relies almost exclusively on a bull rush. Cannot turn the corner on edge rushes.
-Pass rush tends to die once stalemate is reached. Doesn't have a second gear.
-Lack ideal lateral agility. Struggles to maneuver through the wash chasing plays down the line of scrimmage.
-Doesn't have the quickness to one-gap penetrate. Two-gap player only.
-Doesn't consistently get his hands up in passing lanes.
-Chop blocks are his kryptonite.
-Lacks change-of-direction ability.
Is Robinson worth the 11th overall pick in the draft?
Robinson is a prototypical 5-technique defensive end who will excel in 3-4 defenses in the NFL. His playing strength is off the charts, which gives him the ability to own the line of scrimmage on every snap.
He has no problem countering double teams, using his tree trunks for legs to stabilize his lower body and his upper body strength to wrestle through contact. Plays run right at him have very little chance of succeeding.
For the Bears, Robinson's presence would create a lot of space for new linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman to make plays.
He doesn't move fast but once he gets up to speed, he's nearly impossible to slow down. He struggles to get going on stunts and traps but he can annihilate blockers once he has a head of steam.
While Robinson isn't likely to offer more than a handful of sacks in the NFL, at best, his ability to drive back blockers will not go to waste. Even though he lacks the penetration ability to rack up gaudy sack totals, his push in the middle is going to create a lot of opportunities for edge rushers.
The biggest concern for Robinson is that he doesn't project as a three-down player. He can start from Day 1 in the pros and he'll immediately have an impact in the run game, but it's unlikely he'll ever develop into a consistent pass rusher. The quickness just isn't there.
If lined up next to Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, Robinson would be the final piece of the puzzle in a run defense with elite potential. With those three swallowing up offensive linemen, Trevathan and Freeman would run free all day long.
Yet Robinson will likely come off the field on passing downs, so is a situational 5-technique worth the 11th pick in the draft?
Ideally, teams want a first-round draft pick who can have an impact on every down, not just in running situations. While Robinson can be a major cog in a top-tier run defense, his shortcoming in the pass-rush department make him a marginal selection at 11th overall.null