Report card: What the heck happened with Keenan Robinson?

The linebacker went from rising defensive star to backbencher to likely playing elsewhere. Peter Hailey on what happened with Keenan Robinson.

Before we turn all of our thoughts toward free agency, the NFL Draft and the 2016 season. Breaking Burgundy will put a bow on the Washington Redskins NFC East-winning 2015 campaign, player report card style. Peter Hailey on the highlights, lowlights and what the immediate future holds for all members of the Burgundy and Gold though he took a more expanded look at...

PlayerKeenan Robinson

Position: Inside linebacker

Age: 26

Contract status: Free agent

Preseason buzz: Top inside linebacker emerging as a defensive stalwart

Ended 2015 as...: benched behind undrafted Will Compton and mid-season pickup Mason Foster

Grade: D

The explanation:

The Redskins have made it clear that they’re ready to part ways with a 2012 draft pick who looked like he had a lot of potential, but only saw his career take a downturn due to injuries and a lack of production.

 

No, this isn’t a Robert Griffin III piece; this is about Keenan Robinson.

 

The fourth-round selection taken in the same year as Griffin and Alfred Morris is likely heading in the same direction as those two, as head coach Jay Gruden made clear at this year’s NFL Combine.

 

“Keenan finished off strong and was good in the locker room,” he said. “But I think he’s going to hit free agency and probably land somewhere else.”

 

So, just like that, the guy who was supposed to be London Fletcher’s replacement, the rangy, speedy linebacker who was expected to be in the middle of Washington’s defense for years to come, is headed out the door.

 

What happened?

 

Well, 2015 was the final step in what has ultimately proven to be a bit of a lackluster start to Robinson’s NFL life. He opened the year as the starter next to Perry Riley Jr., but it soon became very apparent that both options just couldn’t get the job done.

 

Robinson’s struggles, however, are a bit perplexing. In his first full campaign as starter in 2014 (after shaking off an early bout with the injury bug in years prior), the long-armed, sideline-to-sideline defender showed extreme promise.

 

Yet he took steps backward this season, where he missed a bunch of tackles, some of them crucial, too, and didn’t make enough impact plays. Aside from intercepting Tom Brady during the Patriots contest, Robinson was too quiet. And now, it looks like he’s headed somewhere else.

 

Things like this happen in the NFL quite often. Every team has guys who look the part, but can’t play them. Robinson is a great example. He has more athleticism and measures up better on paper than Will Compton and Mason Foster, the players who replaced him and Riley Jr., but for whatever reason, he just couldn’t put it all together when given the chance.

 

The ability is there, just not consistently enough. Another franchise will take a chance on Robinson, and hope they have the formula to extract his skills and help him reach his ceiling.

 

The same ceiling that he just couldn’t quite get to in D.C.

Follow Peter Hailey on Twitter at @barelyin.

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