Dynasty Draft Profile: Josh Robinson
April 14, 2015 | Rich Hribar
|22.4||68||217||29 3/4||10 1/8|
Josh Robinson is a prospect currently being pulled in many directions. On one hand, he has a contingency that loves his play on the field and on the other, he has the physical profile of a three-toed sloth. We’ll get into both of those shortly, but he sticks out for me right away because his production and usage largely came from one single season to close his career. Strong final season production is one of the most important aspects I look for in a production profile, especially for running backs, but I always want to look under the hood of late blooming success to decide what hampered that previous lack of results and/or aided that late production increase.
Robinson was third of all backs in this draft class with a 44.7 percent rate of runs that gained five or more yards (85 of 190 carries), behind only T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley, and averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in 10 of his 13 games played in 2014. He was efficient with his touches this past season just as he’d been during his first two seasons, but never could supplant the incumbent Ladarius Perkins, a player who went undrafted last season and who was a far less efficient runner than Robinson.
That’s semi-puzzling and slightly worrisome that the staff in place at Mississippi State didn’t feel Robinson was pushing for more opportunities despite effective play, but it’s not extremely rare to come by. The bigger question regarding his elite closing production is just how much of it stemmed from the significant jump made from quarterback Dak Prescott?
It’s always tougher to evaluate production from a back that was getting the types of lanes Robinson was due to opposing defenses having to be cognizant of stopping a dual threat quarterback and Prescott was arguably the Heisman front-runner through the first several weeks of the season. That’s also the same time frame when Robinson stacked nearly all of his season totals. Through seven games, he was averaging 126.7 rushing yards per contest on 7.3 yards per carry with 10 of his 11 rushing touchdowns on the season with a low of 77 yards rushing in a single game. As Prescott began to struggle as a passer and as a runner, so did Robinson. Over the final six games of the season, he averaged just 52.7 rushing yards per game with one touchdown and a high of 75 rushing yards in any single game. There’s a natural declination to be expected when the offenses is struggling, but there was a clear correlation of Robinson needing Prescott to play well in both the passing and rushing game in order for him to produce.
As a runner, Robinson is aesthetically fun to watch. He really isn’t special in one area as his game is more subtle than flashy. Despite not having blazing breakaway speed, he has good short area footwork for his frame. His unique bowling ball like frame allows him to run with a low center of gravity, aiding him in creating tough powerful yardage (below he carries a defensive tackle on his back for six extra yards). He can also move laterally adequately, giving him some elusiveness on the second level. Pro Football Focus has begun sharing their college data to the public and one of those was missed tackles forced by the ball carrier. Robinson excelled in this area, forcing 48 missed tackles on runs and another 10 on receptions. The package of power in his frame makes him a frustrating back to bring to the ground routinely.
As mentioned in the opening, his measurable physical profile was really subpar overall. When it comes to running backs, I do care about baseline thresholds physically, but I also try and remain agnostic overall to running back profiles since so much can be overcome by sheer opportunity at the position in regards to generating tangible production relative to fantasy scoring. Robinson’s closest objective physical profile comparisons and final season production ones are a reminder of why it’s important to never truly bury a back that fails to meet some or all of the athletic thresholds.
|Alfred Morris||Florida Atlantic||2012||173||23.1||70||219||4.67||35.5||117||19.6||98.8||0.8||1.3|
|Dan Herron||Ohio State||2012||191||22.8||70||213||4.66||35||117||16.6||88.9||1.2||1.5|
|Vick Ballard||Mississippi State||2011||UFA||21.5||70||219||4.65||33||115||14.9||91.5||0.8||1.5|
|Josh Robinson||Mississippi State||2015||TDB||22.4||68||217||4.70||32||113||14.6||92.5||0.9||2.2|
This group of cohorts illustrates that not only is Robinson adequately priced by the league in terms of anticipated draft investment (and another one showing that Ingram was indeed overvalued as a prospect), but that opportunity is the ultimate name of the game for a running back. Morris was a sixth round draft pick who has posted the 13th most rushing yards in NFL history over a player’s first three seasons (3,962 yards), Herron notched three top-20 scoring weeks over the final five games last season and Ingram himself finally received a lead back workload and was a RB1 over the back half of 2014. Even Ballard, who has missed nearly the entirety of the past two seasons, was effective when taking over in 2012 as the lead back. While I do care that Robinson is a pedestrian athlete overall, it’s not an immediate death sentence to his future.
Of course, getting that opportunity isn’t always easy and Robinson is expected to be a day three draft selection and likely will be behind the eight ball in terms of his destination’s depth chart. One thing that could also prevent him climbing over those in front of him is his involvement in the passing game. He has dependable hands and is as solid receiver overall, but is a major liability in pass protection. He didn’t stay in a whole lot to block in college and it’s because he was atrocious in that area with opportunities. In 2014, he ranked in the bottom 10 in pressure allowed per Pro Football Focus charting and on plays like this, it’s not his assignment that is blown or causes the failure of the play, but he was still strictly getting a participation medal only.
In the end, Robinson’s scouting report coincides with the expected capital an NFL team will spend on him and the capital you will as a fantasy owner invest into him. There are enough positives in his game to pursue him as a late round target and enough negatives to warrant him being available there. In current rookie ADP collected at Dynasty League Football, he’s on average the 37th rookie selected overall prior to destinations and the 14th running back. That is before Zach Zenner and Karlos Williams, two backs I believe are better prospects at the position. I’m not going to throw boulders at anyone’s fourth round rookie selection, so if you’re a fan of Robinson by all means swing away, but at that stage I’m looking for someone with a much higher ceiling attached to measured athleticism since picks in that area inherently come with a low probability of success. For Robinson, it’s all about initial opportunity if I will own him.
Robinson was the 16th running back off of the board in the draft, going 205 overall to the Colts. While his initial draft investment will keep his dynasty value suppressed, it’s not that poor of a landing spot. The secondary running back spot in Pep Hamilton’s offense has consistently held fantasy value and he doesn’t exactly have a nefarious rogue’s gallery to vault in terms of Dan Herron, Vick Ballard and Zurlon Tipton. If he can improve on his shortcomings in the passing game and press them for a roster spot and playing time, there’s an opportunity for him to be next in line behind a 32-year old starter and attachment to one of the best fantasy offenses. I may not be a huge fan of his talent, but in terms of fourth-round dart throws, Robinson is in a better spot than most, he just needs to maximize his initial opportunities.