Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines the game of Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson and discovers that like many top NFL starters, Robinson has a refined way of using his elite short-area quickness that maximizes his physical gifts.
For a waterbug slot receiver, a 6.54-second, three-cone drill is an excellent time. For 220-pound Allen Robinson at his Pro Day, it was a stunning mark.
Even so, for every elite athlete who starts in the NFL, there are dozens of superior athletes who lack the skills to refine that physical talent into football production. For the past 16 years that I’ve been watching wide receivers for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio publication, there are dozens of receivers who have learned a variety of release techniques against press coverage.
They can two-quick, three-quick, crossover, double-up, swipe, wipe, shed, chop, and swim. Having a broad vocabulary of moves is a good thing. It’s better if the moves are executed with articulate precision and mastery of control.
I value the receiver with a mastery of 3-4 moves far more than the option with a half-assed understanding of 8-9. One of these points of mastery—and easily the most important—when it comes to releasing from press coverage is the execution of footwork with the proper depth and breadth of step.
It doesn’t matter how explosive you are if you’re working too far into the opponent at the line of scrimmage. Robinson’s game illustrates knowledge of this point and has refined ways to use a variety of moves that leverage his suddenness to force his opponent’s reaction but never get too close until that opponent is vulnerable to a counter move.
Whether you’re an evaluator of football talent, a coach, or an aspiring wide receiver, studying the depth of a receiver’s footwork that he uses when releasing from the line of scrimmage is a telling indication of the level of that player’s refinement. Robinson can tell a lot of stories that sucker cornerbacks without even moving a yard downfield.
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