It’s a busy day at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex Monday. In the morning, GM Omar Khan and HC Mike Tomlin spoke in the team’s annual pre-draft conference to highlight the team’s offseason moves up to this pint and previewed the 2023 NFL Draft that kicks off Thursday night. One of their key offseason moves prior to the draft was acquiring WR Allen Robinson II from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a swap of seventh-round picks with the Rams also eating some of Robinson’s guaranteed money to get him off their books.
Robinson spoke to the media for the first time as a member of the Steelers Monday afternoon and was asked about if he believes he was brought in to mentor a young WR core or to resurrect his career as a former 1,000-yard receiver in previous seasons.
“I think both,” Robinson said to the media via 93.7 The Fan. “I feel like for myself, I have a lot of football left in me. I thought last year for the time that I was playing in those 10 games, I felt very good about some of the things that I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t get maybe some of the opportunities that I may have wanted and things like that, but as far as how I felt as a football player from my route running ability to being able to get active for a little bit in the red zone and doing some things like that on third down, and so like that… I felt very good about last year.”
Having conducted a film room on Robinson shortly after news broke about the trade, you still see some of the traits that made him a sought-after prospect coming out of Penn State in 2014 and a respected receiver in the league for nearly the last decade. His long speed may not be what it once was and his ability to consistently win contested catches could be better, but Robinson still showed us in 2022 that he is capable of winning combative catches thanks to his big frame, leaping ability, and sure hands at the catch point. He also is a fairly nuanced route runner for his size, having a varied release package off the LOS and can drop his weight and get in and out of breaks well for a 220lb+ WR.
A foot injury sidelined Robinson for the remainder of the season, holding him to just ten games played. He also missed time in 2021 in his final season with the Bears, playing in only 12 games and accumulated 38 receptions for 410 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown, a far-cry from the 102 receptions for 1,250 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns he had in 2020.
While injuries have hampered Robinson the last two years, his QB play hasn’t done him any favors either. Chicago was trying different guys in there in 2021, using rookie QB Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles throughout the season, resulting in an inconsistent passing game where Robinson couldn’t establish a rhythm with any one guy. The same was the case in 2022 as Matt Stafford hyper-targeted Cooper Kupp, often overlooking Robinson, even when open as he mentioned above before Stafford ended up getting shut down around the same time as Robinson for the year.
Robinson won’t have to worry about moving parts at the QB position with Kenny Pickett firmly entrenched as the team’s starting QB, barring some unfortunate injury that would thrust Robinson’s former QB Mitch Trubisky into the lineup. Robinson may have a tough time seeing the field enough to approach the 1,000-yard mark again in Pittsburgh, but should he stay healthy in 2023 and Pickett be able to take a leap, there’s nothing to suggest that Robinson couldn’t experience a resurgent season as a member of the Black and Gold.