Film Room: Allen Robinson Brings Versatility & Reliability To Steelers WR Corps

In a surprise move on Tuesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for Los Angeles Rams WR Allen Robinson according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who says the deal is almost done pending a physical. Robinson’s health is key in terms of the deal coming to fruition. A CT scan last season revealed a stress fracture in one of Robinson’s feet in late November, shutting him down for the rest of the season and requiring surgery.

All told, the soon to be 30-year-old wideout played in 10 games last season, catching 33 passes on 52 targets for 339 yards (10.27 YPR) and three TDs. While his last two seasons have been disappointing due to injuries, Robinson has posted three seasons above 1,000 yards, including 2019 and 2020 with the Chicago Bears. He topped 1,100 yards twice as the primary target in Chicago for former teammate and current Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky.

So, if the trade does go through and Robinson does become a Steeler, what type of player are they getting at this stage of Robinson’s career? Let’s find out.

The Film

Allen Robinson profiles as a big-bodied, possession-style WR. He has the frame to come down with catches in traffic over the middle while also displaying impressive leaping ability and body control along the sidelines. He has made many contested catches in his career with the Jaguars, Bears, and the Rams, levitating up to attack the ball at its apex over a defender or complete the back-shoulder grab. Check out this first clip against the Panthers. Robinson quickly gets off the jam by CB Donte Jackson and leaps up to pluck the jump ball out of the air in the end zone.

Here is a similar play with Robinson lined up at the bottom of your screen in the same game. Getting a good outside release of the LOS, he locates the ball in the air, then twirls around to make the back-shoulder catch along the sideline, securing the ball to the ground to complete the process of the catch. Robinson is one of the most sure-handed WRs in the game, having only five drops in last three seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

Robinson’s ability as a jump ball specialist isn’t what it used to be as Father Time and injuries have started to catch up with him. His explosiveness to climb the ladder has deteriorated over time along with his ability to separate down the field, lacking that long speed. Here are a couple examples of Robinson failing to win vertically along the sideline. The first shows a great play in coverage by CB Charvarius Ward and the second shows Robinson having a tough time trying to stack CB Alontae Taylor vertically, missing out on the leaping grab.

While listed at 6’2, 220lb, Robinson is fairly nimble for a bigger-bodied, possession receiver. He does a good job getting in and out of his breaks as a route runner and is able to generate some separation in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Watch Robinson use a combination of physicality to get off the press as well as quickness to turn back to the football on the curl route at the bottom of your screen, posting up to give Matthew Stafford an open target for a modest gain.

Robinson does a good job of working to the open portions of the field when facing zone coverage, giving his QB an open target. He also has the ability to create a little after the catch. Watch these clips of Robinson finding the soft spots in coverage and getting to the open quadrant to give Stafford an open target. The second clip shows some run after the catch by Robinson out in space.

While built more like a prototypical boundary receiver, Robinson has seen a fair amount of action in the slot. Last year, he logged 33.6% of his snaps from the slot, according to PFF, with 1,215 career snaps from the inside. As he’s gotten older, Robinson has played inside more compared to earlier in his career. There he utilizes his big body and sure hands to provide his QB with a reliable target over the middle of the field. Watch Robinson work from the slot on this rep as Cooper Kupp motions to the right. He shows some quickness as he breaks inside, sits in the middle of the field for the pass, the turns up field before being met by the defense.

Chicago and Los Angeles did a good job of utilizing Robinson more in the slot to get more advantageous matchups, especially in the red zone where his size and quickness relative to his frame can succeed. Take a look at this TD catch by Robinson. He motions from left to right, lining up in the slot where he breaks quickly on a slant over the middle of the field for the score.

As mentioned above, Robinson likes to take a jab step or two off the LOS to get opposing DBs to bite as he tries to separate. However, he can get carried away with this strategy when he needs to focus on getting off the line fast. Here is a good example. Robinson fakes his outside break multiple times at the bottom of your screen, failing to get off the line and break inside in-time for the pass coming from Stafford, resulting in an incompletion.


Allen Robinson is a proven receiver who lacks top-end speed to consistently win vertically down the field and has dealt with his share of injuries the last several years. But he adds versatility and reliability to a Steelers receiving corps in need of a veteran wideout. He is inside/outside versatile and can complement Diontae Johnson and George Pickens as a big slot WR on most snaps while lining out wide in certain packages where the offense wants to work Johnson or Pickens inside. Robinson also brings another big body to the room, having the skill set to be a red zone weapon for Kenny Pickett thanks to his sure hands and body control on contested catches.

Assuming that Pittsburgh parts with only a conditional late-round pick, eating some of his salary to facilitate the trade with Los Angeles, the acquisition of Robinson can be seen as a low risk/ moderate reward as the Steelers attempt to surround Pickett with proven, reliable weapons to help him make that second-year leap. Robinson can help him do that. He may not be the potential Pro Bowl player he was earlier in his career, but he can give Pickett a battle-tested weapon to rely on.

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