When first stepping onto Miami’s campus, Dominique Robinson wasn’t expecting to play on the defensive side of the ball, having been recruited as an offensive athlete after playing quarterback in high school.
On Saturday afternoon, Robinson took his next step on his football journey— as a defensive edge rusher— with his selection by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Robinson has only played the edge position for the last two seasons, but in his limited time, he made an immediate impact, finishing with 28 tackles, 8.5 tackle-for-loss and 4.5 sacks in the 2021 season as a full-time starter after seeing rotational work in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
He’s a six-foot-four, 254 lb. edge with both stand up hand-in-dirt ability, whose strength is in his flexibility and frame allowing him to win matchups with sheer speed rushing prowess. His background as a receiver gives Robinson an inherent speed advantage from the jump, but he may need to fill out a bit in order to withstand NFL levels of competition, which could affect that speed a little.
Although Robinson has added 30 pounds to his frame in the years between his arrival at Miami and the Senior Bowl, now looking the part of an NFL 4-3 DE or OLB, he still retains a lot of the athleticism that allowed him to play WR.
In fact, his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.73 out of 10.0 ranks 6th among the 2022 draft DE prospects in the RAS system, where he scored ‘elite’ in ‘composite explosion’ and ‘great’ in ‘composite speed and agility.’
This puts a lot of intrigue on Robinson’s potential ceiling, as his Combine numbers caught a lot of eyes, especially with his vertical jump and 40-yard dash times. His Senior Bowl performance also exposed the NFL world to his potential abilities, as he stood out despite a deep class of edge rushers with his efforts.
The same raw athleticism which makes him an intriguing prospect is also a risk, however, as Robinson still needs to learn the more technical aspects of the edge rusher position, such as hand placement and angle of pursuit in the backfield.
Chicago will likely take a couple years to develop Robinson, whether that’s keeping him on the 53-man roster in a reserve/special teams role or on the practice squad. But the hard work could potentially be rewarded, as Robinson has all the tools needed to be an effective starter in the right situation should his high-ceiling potential be realized.