By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell
Three years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. A year later, we started the Why Slide? series, and this year, it is back. Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.
Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson was a consensus first-round pick who many felt was a top-20 talent. There were some projections of Robinson sliding, but teams thought he would likely be a first-round pick, and WalterFootball.com knew some teams picking in the middle to back portion of the first round that had Robinson as a candidate for their picks. As the offensive linemen started coming off the board, the Denver Broncos struck first at the position, taking Utah left tackle Garett Bolles with the 20th-overall pick and then New Orleans Saints selected Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd-overall pick. Robinson surprisingly slipped to the second round.
Sources say the reason why Robinson slid was mainly inconstant play. WalterFootball.com reached out to sources at those teams that took tackles instead of Robinson, and that was the answer they gave as well. Here’s how one source explained it, “Cam’s gifted physically, but he’s not an elite left tackle-caliber athlete, and fundamentally, he’s somewhat raw and inconsistent for a three-year starter who’s never missed a game. Ramczyk was a better athlete with better feet and more technically polished, and still possessed high upside for a guy who only played one year of major college ball. Ramczyk would have been a top-five pick if he went back to school and improved over another year before coming out. Not to mention off-the-field maturity. Cam was never a clean prospect, everyone I know had him in late [Round 1] to the range he went.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars ended Robinson’s fall when they traded up for him in the second round, and that was a good landing spot for him. The Jaguars need a long-term left tackle after having the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Luke Joeckel, go bust. The Jaguars traded for Brandon Albert, but the oft-injured veteran isn’t a long-term answer at left tackle. Jacksonville also needed help at guard, so Robinson could start out his career playing at guard and then eventually move to left tackle to replace Albert. That could be a good plan for Robinson to let him transition to the NFL and become more consistent while not having to go up against elite edge rushers. Robinson has a good skill set, so if he works hard and is well-coached, he could end up being a good pro for the Jaguars.
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