By Leo Silbert
When you think of universities who produce quality wide receivers you probably think of places like the University of Miami, Clemson, USC and recently LSU. A school you wouldn’t expect to produce an NFL caliber wide receiver though is the option based offense at the United States Air Force Academy, but that is where the focus of this article comes in with Jalen Robinette. Robinette is 6’3 and 220 pounds of a receiver who showed a great ability to get open and when he was unable to get open he was able to win jump balls. There is a reason not many receivers come out of offenses like Air Force as option offenses are running based and the receivers don’t run traditional routes. There have been a few recent examples of option receivers finding success in the NFL though in Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas who both came out of Georgia Tech, but it still isn’t a common occurrence. Robinette coming from Air Force makes it even more rare, since the last time a player who went to Air Force was drafted was back in 1999, when Robinette was only 5 years old.
What makes Robinette a viable prospect is that he has all of the desirable traits in the world for a great wide receiver. He has the size and weight to win 1 on 1 matchups, he was able to do great after the catch (as the gif following this paragraph will show) and he averaged over 27 yards per catch this past season. He was the guy on Air Force’s offense who was always the guy they looked to when they needed a big play. He also happened to be an incredible blocker for his position due to his size and the fact that in an option offense is absolutely necessary.
Now, there are a couple of reasons why he isn’t being heralded as the next great thing at the receiver position. He didn’t have ridiculously over the top stats like Calvin Johnson had at Georgia Tech and he doesn’t have the same sub 4.4 speed at over 6’4 like Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas had so it isn’t likely that he’ll get first round noise like the other two had. He also is extremely raw as a route runner due to the option offense being mostly a deep passing game with few short routes because when they wanted to have a short gain, they would just run the ball. Robinette is too raw of a prospect to take a chance on early in the draft, but if he is given the time to develop properly, he can be one of the best and toughest red zone threats in the league.
If you want to see more of Robinette, here is his entire catch reel from this past season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J66XahiG4gk