There is something to be said about the NFL Scouting Combine. It can cause a player's stock to rise or fall dramatically. Vikings third-round cornerback Josh Robinson was one who made the most of his time at Indianapolis – vaulting himself from a mid-round selection from Central Florida to the top of the third round.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said that the team's war room was very excited the way the second round fell and knew they were going to get a talented player in the third round. But even he was a bit surprised that Robinson, who ran the fastest 40 times at the Combine (4.29 seconds), was still available and sees him as an ideal project to mold into a starter with the team.
"When you look at his tape, he has some unique cover skills," Spielman said. "He's more than willing enough to come up in (run) support. Like most of the juniors (coming out early for the draft), he has some flaws that can be corrected with coaching. But (there is) just tremendous upside with Josh."
Spielman said the Vikings got a lot of calls to see if they were going to move up and they stood their ground, convinced that they could find a talented player – whether at cornerback or wide receiver – with their pick in the third round.
He pointed out that there is a lot to like about Robinson, who has amazing speed, good work habits, a willing team player and someone of high character. But, as the saying goes, the tape doesn't lie and the coaching staff and scouts all liked what they saw in Robinson when they watched him play.
"Just his athletic skill set," Spielman said when asked what he likes most about Robinson. "When you watch it on tape and you watch his feet and his cover ability, some of the plays he does make on tape really stand out because of those unique athletic traits."
Spielman said Robinson will have challenges ahead of him making the jump to the NFL, especially as an early entrant who needs to improve in the subtleties of the game. But he added that the Vikings are well-equipped to develop a young, athletically gifted corner.
"The biggest thing, just all these guys, is cleaning up his technique," Spielman said. "Joe (Woods) is a great defensive backs coach, (defensive coordinator) Alan Williams was a defensive backs coach and Leslie's background with defensive backs, those guys can do a lot of things if they have to ability to work with. This kid definitely has that ability."
Asked to define whether Robinson projects as a slot corner or playing outside the hashes, Spielman said there isn't much he can't do given his versatility.
"He's big enough to do both," Spielman said. "He's almost 200 pounds and has the ability to play both inside and outside. He has the ability to play both off and front press. With that speed and that vertical jump, he can (play) both in man and zone coverage."
It may seem a bit cliché to say that a team was surprised to see a player they liked still around when their pick came up in the third round, but Spielman said there was a unanimity of the belief that he could excel in the Vikings system and, in the end, it was the hope that he would still be there when the Vikings came on the clock for the first time Friday. Robinson passed all the evaluations and, in the end, was the guy the Vikings not only wanted, but got.
"We really stressed in our (pre-draft) meetings, is this guy a willing tackler and is he able to do the things we need on defense?" Spielman said. "One of the things we really wanted to hone in on was our scouts and coaches all being on the same page. As we watched tape, especially we went through the DBs, is this guy what we're looking for in coverage and his ability to (run) support? We got on the same page. Everybody agreed that this kid is more than willing to come up and hit you."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings impressed with Robinson's athleticism
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