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Patrick Robinson could be a solid slot cornerback for the Eagles

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Low-risk, medium-reward?

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles finally decided to address their gaping hole at the cornerback position last week by signing veteran defender Patrick Robinson.

Robinson signed a one-year deal worth $1 million, so it’s hardly like he’s expected to be the Eagles’ solution at cornerback. But the former first round pick shouldn’t be written off completely. There’s some reason to think he could be a contributor for Philadelphia. At least that the impression I got from talking with some people who have watched him over his career.

In order to get to know the newest Eagles cornerback, here’s a question and answer exchange with the people who know him best. Here’s some insight from a Colts writer, a Chargers writer, and a Saints writer.

COLTS PATRICK ROBINSON

Answers via Josh Wilson of Indianapolis Colts SB Nation blog Stampede Blue.

1 - What was the reaction when the Colts cut Robinson? What’s the reaction from Colts fans about him signing with the Eagles?

I think the reaction of Colts fans when the team cut Patrick Robinson was a combination of, "great move" and "Chris Ballard isn't messing around!" Robinson struggled to stay on the field in the first place and struggled when he was on the field, so it made sense for the Colts to cut him with a new regime coming to town. As for the reaction to him signing with the Eagles, I don't really think it was all that strong and I don't think it generated a ton of attention, but I assume Colts fans wish him well. Probably the biggest reaction that Colts fans had was at Robinson's contract, which is a one-year, $1 million deal - and I saw Colts fans remarking at how it was a decent pay decrease for him. From an Eagles perspective, though, that's a good thing - they're getting him for cheaper than the Colts did last year.

2 - What are his strengths?

Robinson is a good athlete who's got nice coverage ability and who has good ball skills with good instincts on breaking on routes. He's got talent enough to be a solid cornerback, and he's shown that at times, but the problem (as we'll look at in a minute) is staying healthy and playing consistent. But his athleticism and skill-set isn't necessarily the problem.

3 - What are his weaknesses?

Robinson's biggest weakness, at least during his year with the Colts, was staying on the field. He had various injuries during the 2016 season, and I think that contributed to his struggles on-the-field. He never was truly able to get things going, and part of that was inconsistency too. There were times where he would look solid, but it wouldn't last long - whether due to injury or inconsistency.

4 - What was the deal with his injury situation last year?

There were certainly a lot of them. Robinson suffered a groin injury in the preseason, then missed weeks two and three of the regular season with a concussion, then missed week six with hip and knee injuries, and then suffered a groin injury that caused him to miss weeks eleven, thirteen, and fourteen before he was placed on season-ending IR. So in total, Robinson missed nine games to injury (plus two preseason games) with various injuries. He's had injuries in the past, but in terms of the amount of injuries he suffered 2016 was the toughest season of his career. It seemed like he just could never stay on the field.

5 - I saw some Colts fans suggest he should have been used in the slot more as opposed to the outside. Do you believe he’s a slot guy?

I believe that's where he's best suited, yeah. That's where his strengths were with the Chargers the year before the Colts signed him, and I still think he can be a solid slot cornerback for a team. The problem the Colts had going into the 2016 season was that they needed Robinson to be their starter, but as the season went on and other guys got opportunities (often due to injuries to Robinson) the Colts started to get a better sense of what they had. In December, I even wrote a piece looking forward to 2017 in which I suggested the Colts should use Rashaan Melvin opposite of Vontae Davis as the starter and play Robinson more in the slot, which I thought could have helped. Last year, though, the Colts had a terrific nickel corner in Darius Butler, so there wasn't the need for Robinson to play in the slot. I think he can probably play better on the outside than he did last year for the Colts, but I definitely think his best spot is as a nickel corner playing in the slot. If the Eagles give him a shot there, with the low-risk contract they gave him, this looks like a fine signing for them. They're simply counting on him being healthier and more consistent than he was with the Colts.

6 - Do you think he can be a decent Week 1 starter? Or is he just a role player? Or a backup? Or does he not belong on a roster?

That's a fantastic question, because in his NFL career I think he's had moments where each of those options would have been true. Overall, I think he's a guy who's probably ideally suited for a slot cornerback role, but who can be a capable starter if need be. He likely won't be anything special, but he can be solid - provided he stays healthy. My biggest concern with having Robinson as the starter would be with whether he could start all 16 games or not. So I guess it depends on what the need is at cornerback. If you need a starting corner, I think Robinson is a guy you could at least be ok with as the starter - but he wasn't all that good with the Colts and I think ideally you'd want to let him play in the slot. I don't know whether he can turn into a top nickel corner, but I think that's where the Eagles should give him opportunities to see what he can do. And then, if need be, he could step up and start. The hope that the Eagles surely have is that Robinson's struggles in 2016 with the Colts were largely due to the injuries and never being able to get any momentum going on-the-field, so I'm sure that they're hoping he can stay healthy and play better than he did last year. Thus, the prove-it one-year deal for Robinson with the Eagles.

7 - Any idea about what he’s like off the field?

About all I can say is that I haven't heard anything about off-the-field concerns, so while that doesn't mean there isn't anything I'd say that's a pretty good sign. So I've heard of nothing that would be a concern about Robinson off-the-field.


CHARGERS PATRICK ROBINSON

Answers via John Gennaro of Los Angeles Chargers SB Nation blog Bolts From The Blue.

1 - What was the reaction when the Chargers first signed him? And then how about when they cut him?

The reaction was an underwhelming one. The thought was that he would compete for the nickel CB spot behind Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers. Not only did he beat out Craig Mager and Steve Williams for that job, he eventually was a regular starter and spent the year clearly outplaying the high-priced Flowers. Due to the salary cap, they had to pick Flowers over Robinson as their starter in 2016, which is why he ended up with the Colts.

2 - What are his strengths?

Now, this was back in 2015, but he really seemed to be comfortable in zone defense (which the Chargers play a lot). He understood where the QB wanted to go with the ball and got there before the receiver did, most of the time.

3 - What are his weaknesses?

Could be over-powered at the line, at times, and didn't have the best of hands (8 PDs and only 1 INT in 2015). However, he did the job of shutting down the opposing team's #2 or #3 receiver quite well most weeks.

4 - I noticed one BFTB writer advocated for the Chargers to re-sign Robinson this offseason. Did you feel the same way? Why or why not?

Absolutely! The Chargers don't have a ton of depth, or health, at the cornerback position and they know he is an excellent fit for the type of defense that they run.

5 - Anything you can tell us about what he’s like in the locker room? Off-field behavior?

He had zero problems off the field when he was with the Chargers.


SAINTS PATRICK ROBINSON

Answers via John Hendrix of New Orleans Saints SB Nation blog Canal Street Chronicles.

1 - What was the reaction when Robinson didn’t re-sign with the Saints? Did Saints fans ever want him back since he’s been on the market in recent years?

It was pretty clear that fans were okay with the team moving on, and both needed to change things up. There was a small group of us that would have hoped for him to return to play in the slot. He was somewhat progressing, getting better. Still, he was a big draft miss as a former first-round pick. In hindsight, he would have been a million times better than Brandon Browner in 2015.

2 - What are his strengths?

His best season was 2011, and some Eagles fans will recall his 99-yard pick six on Michael Vick in 2012. He can make some very big plays when you least expect it, and be there to break up passes. I'm sure some familiarity with Malcolm Jenkins could help him in alignments and looks.

3 - What are his weaknesses?

When he was with the Saints, they should have used him in the slot. His strength was never man coverage, as you can see from this video from covering Greg Jennings. Plus, he got lit up by Dez Bryant one game that had fans screaming for him to get cut. It was way too easy. He was pretty inconsistent, overall, but showed signs of improvement - which could be a credit to pumping in time on film. His 2014 was all over the place, after he got inserted into the lineup from a failed Champ Bailey experiment and injuries. It ended up getting him benched, and fans can recall two distinct pass interference calls from the Week 2 loss to the Browns. It just never looked right with Robinson, took bad angles, was out of place. However, some of that could be attributed to bad coaching.

4 - Based on his Saints career, what do you envision his ideal role in the league at this point? Slot corner? Starter on the outside? Backup? Something else?

It was good to see Robinson somewhat turn things around in San Diego, but it was almost forgotten during his time in Indianapolis. At this point of his career, he needs a team that will put him in the best possible spot, which is in outside nickel coverage or in the slot. If he's your top option, then you might be wildly disappointed.

5 - Any idea what he’s like off the field?

I know he showed up at some of the local events some of the players and team had. Other than that, couldn't tell you. From what I've seen, pretty respectful and quiet.


Patrick Robinson highlights video

Watch some of these interceptions he makes and try to tell me he wouldn’t be the best receiver on the Eagles’ 2016 roster.

Patrick Robinson spider graph

Robinson’s top player comparison on Mockdraftable is ... JaCorey Shepherd!