Former Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams’ recent comment about rookie Mark Robinson drew some attention on Wednesday. He said that the seventh-round draft pick is better than he was back in 2013 as a rookie himself.
While it may have seemed like a bit of an offhand comment at the time, it’s worth remembering that, although he is now retired and beginning a coaching career, he was actually in training camp earlier this month. Yesterday, Robinson confirmed that he talked to Williams at that time, speaking to Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“He’s a good guy who had a good career. He came in and talked to us, shared a few words with us, encouraged us”, he told Chris Adamski and Benz for the outlet. Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to draw comparisons between the two yesterday, and he pointed to them both embracing contact. Robinson saw more similarities as well.
“Like Vince, we didn’t just sit around waiting for an opportunity”, he said. “You have to show it every day. I got in, and whatever the situation is — last round of the draft, last picked — that just added fuel to the fire for me”.
Robinson was the Steelers’ penultimate draft pick this year ahead of only quarterback Chris Oladokun, who has already been released. He was brought into a crowded inside linebacker room within which it was perceived it would be difficult for him to make ground.
After all, they carried six inside linebackers in 2021, and they retained five of them, only swapping out one starter for another, letting Joe Schobert go and signing Myles Jack. Devin Bush and Robert Spillane are competing for the opposite starting job. Prior to his injury, Ulysees Gilbert III was looking to make a push to retain his roster spot, while Marcus Allen and 2021 fourth-round pick Buddy Johnson remain.
But as he said, he hasn’t waited. He’s let his play speak for him, both on the practice field and in the preseason, and in turn, he’s been rewarded with increased opportunities and opportunities of higher quality. By now, it is largely anticipated that he will make the 53-man roster.
Williams himself was a sixth-round draft pick who had to fight to make the roster his rookie year. He went on to have an accomplished eight-year career in the NFL that only came to an end by his own choice, retiring just before training camp last year.
He eventually became a starter, in fact, finishing with several hundred tackles, over 20 sacks, and even an interception of Tom Brady. On top of that, he made a good chunk of money for doing what he loved. That’s another thing Robinson would love to have in common with Bince.