From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#72 Robert Hainsey/OL/ Notre Dame – 6’4 1/2”, 306lb
-Had respectable numbers in the bench press (32), reassuring his strong punch and upper body strength you see on film
-Good initial punch on his pass sets and when getting his fits in the run game
-Effective down blocker with the ability to wash down defensive linemen or linebackers to clear a hole on the outside
-Effective when pulling from the tackle spot, playing with urgency as he tries to get to his landmark
-Does a good job staying locked onto his blocks when he keeps his hands inside the defender’s framework
-Has active feet when coming out of his pass set, taking a lot of steps to get his vertical set
-Works his hips well when asked to sit in against power rushers or turn and rush speed rushers up the arc of the pocket
-Does a good job on combo blocks to the backer or when tasked to pass defender over/to the guard on twists and stunts
-Thin lower-half makes you question whether he can anchor down at the next level without more sand in his pants
-Doesn’t generate a lot of push in the run game due to lack of overall mass and strength in his lower body
-Below average athlete when it comes to speed (5.22 40) and explosiveness (27 1/2”) on his tape
-Has shorter arms (32 1/8”) than you would like to see for a player potentially playing on the bookend
-Lacks the overall foot quickness and change of direction ability side-to-side that would want to see in a tackle prospect (4.65 20yd shuttle)
-Can climb to the second level and get out in space on screens, but doesn’t have the ability to change direction quickly, resulting in him overrunning his blocks at times
-Lack of high-end athleticism and short arms have him leaning forward at times on block attempts, leading to misses and losing his base to get knocked of his spot
-Senior prospect from Pittsburgh, PA
-Transferred to IMG Academy his senior year to help his recruiting profile, eventually choosing to play in South Bend
-Four-star prospect that was recruited to play both guard and tackle
-Started one of 13 games played as a true freshman after enrolling a semester early
-Started all 13 contests in 2018 as a sophomore for the Irish
-Started the first eight games at right tackle for the Irish in 2019 before a fractured ankle ended his season
-Started all 12 games played in his senior season for the Irish,
-2020 second-team All-ACC selection, All-ACC Academic Team in 2020, Senior Bowl Invitee, two-year team captain
Robert Hainsey may not be the main attraction of the Notre Dame offensive line that has four notable prospects entering the draft process, but he has definitely made an impact on the unit during his time in South Bend. Hainsey has over 30 starts under his belt at RT for the Irish, showing a player with polish in terms of technique and knowledge of the game. He has a lot of game experience against some of the best programs over the past four years, showing that he can hold his own on an island on the right side. Notre Dame has taken pride in its run game and Hainsey is no exception to this. He runs his feet on contact and does a great job creating seals with his shoulders to angle defenders away from the play and create running lanes for his backs. Here’s is a good example from this year’s game against Alabama where Hainsey engages the down lineman and turns his outside shoulder inward, getting that seal for #23 Kyren Williams to run through for the nice gain.
Hainsey is very effective when asked to combo with the guard on a defender and work up to the second level of the defense to pick up a linebacker. He does a great job at washing defenders down in the run game on down blocks for big runs to the outside. Here is a good example against Clemson, where Hainsey combos with the guard on the DT then goes and gets the backer to seal off the inside for the run.
Hainsey is a smart blocker who is pretty aware of what is going on around him and works well in unison with the guard in pass protection as well. Here on this play, Hainsey shows his ability to pass off defenders on twists and stunts in pass protection and be in position to pick up the defender coming to his side.
Hainsey was also recruited as a guard coming out of high school and has shown some versatility to play multiple spots along the offensive line. At the Senior Bowl, He played both guard and center to give teams exposure to his ability on the inside. Here at RG, Hainsey is a tad slow picking up the defender who hits him with a swim move, but then recovers and makes him run up the arc of the pocket. Hainsey showed this trait at tackle as well, and does a good job keeping the QB clean.
Hainsey has a pretty thin lower-half for the offensive line, but he still has the hip mobility to sit down and anchor in against some rushes. Here at center, Hainsey picks up the rusher on the one-on-one rep, hitting and replacing with his hands and sitting in against the rush with good hip bend to neutralize the defender.
The Senior Bowl showed Hainsey’s strengths as a run blocker on the inside as well. Here at center, he and his Notre Dame teammate, Aaron Banks, combo block the defensive lineman, driving him back nearly ten yards into the backfield on the double team block.
The weaknesses associated with Hainsey’s game are his overall size/length and athletic ability. He has shorter arms and lacks the size and strength in his lower half you want in traditional tackles. Due to his shorter reach, he will reach forward to try and get the defender, but this will cause him to whiff on some attempts or allow the defender to beat him with his hands or a counter inside. Here against the Crimson Tide, both occur as Hainsey lunges forward and whiffs badly as the defender swims inside into the face of #12 Ian Book.
Hainsey also lacks the speed and foot quickness you need as a bookend protector. He plays with urgency as a pass protector, but he just doesn’t have the foot speed to have effective pass sets against high-level pass rushers. Here against Clemson, Hainsey does a good job initially on the play, keeping the defender from getting around the corner and getting hands-on in good position. However, he stops running his feet at the top of the arc and bends forward with arms extended, losing the defender with his outside arm and allowing him to get past and finish at the QB for the sack.
Hainsey’s lack of overall athleticism also makes it difficult for him to recover on rushes or against on his run fits. Here in the same game, Hainsey does a good job getting to the second level of the defense, but overruns the linebacker and can’t adjust to the defender cutting underneath him, leading to the missed block.
Overall, Hainsey is a player that has maximized his abilities as a lineman that can play multiple positions, but is lacking in physical tools and athletic upside, which will limit his effectiveness at the next level. He is a smart player with a lot of experience and will undoubtedly have a role in the NFL, but his lack of a defined position may prove to be just as much a detriment as it could be a benefit as far as versatility is concerned. His arm length and foot quickness are concerns for playing tackle against faster edge rushers in the league, but his thin base and lack of power generated in the run game may cap his upside at guard or center. However, if expected to be mainly a depth piece for an offensive unit, Hainsey could prove to be a viable asset with the flexibility to contribute and provide solid, yet unspectacular play where he is slotted. When watching his film, the players Jesse Davis and Calvin Throckmorton come to mind as players that may not have the most athletic ability, but have possible position flexibility and can be solid contributors as the sixth or seventh options in an offensive line room.
Hainsey said prior to his Pro Day that he had a conversation with Kevin Colbert at the Senior Bowl and also had Colbert and Tomlin attend his Pro Day workout. Given he is a Pittsburgh native and has experience playing multiple spots on a quality offensive line as a collegiate, there could be some intrigue by Colbert and Tomlin with Hainsey being a possible selection in the middle rounds of the draft. He fits the profile as an experienced starter that can contribute to the team’s needs at adding offensive line depth, and should Pittsburgh not address tackle early on in the draft, Hainsey could be a player in their sights to fill the need as a backup who can play all the positions on the offensive line, as well.
Projection: Early-to-Mid-Day Three
Games Watched: vs Clemson (2020), vs Alabama (2020), Senior Bowl (2020)