Steelers News

Vince Williams: Steelers LB Mark Robinson Is ‘Uniquely Physical’ For Today’s NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year linebacker Mark Robinson’s calling card, at least so far in his career, is his physicality at the inside linebacker position.

It showed up at times his rookie season when he had the chance to get on the field. Now, that physicality is earning him praise from a former Steelers great.

Appearing on the “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” podcast from Stage AE in Pittsburgh during the 2023 NFL Draft, former Steelers linebacker Vince Williams said that Robinson is “uniquely physical” for today’s NFL, fitting in with what it takes to be a Steelers linebacker.

“I think Mark Robinson has a lot of athleticism. I think he’s uniquely physical for this time period that we’re playing in; you don’t see a lot of guys that are willing to go out there and throw their bodies around with reckless abandon,” Williams said to Heyward and his co-host Hayden Walsh, according to video via the NFL on ESPN YouTube page. “I think if he really wants to solidify the Vince Williams comparisons, then his above-the-neck game is going to have to take huge steps.”

Robinson was a 2022 seventh-round draft pick who spent the vast majority of his rookie season as a healthy scratch, not even earning a helmet for special-teams purposes. The team already had two other linebackers in Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen who were special teamers. Neither will be back in 2023 as Spillane signed with the Las Vegas Raiders while Allen remains a free agent.

The Steelers were obviously intrigued by Robinson, a former running back with a physical, hitting spirit, spending that seventh-round pick on him and bringing him along slowly. He played in each of the final three games, including technically getting the start in Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens. He played half of the defensive snaps and registered seven tackles.

That physically and “appetite for contact”, as defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said, got him on the field. As Williams pointed out, the type of physical presence that Robinson brings as a young, developing linebacker isn’t something that’s very prominent in today’s NFL.

Gone are the days of the big-hitting linebackers as the league instead focuses on the smaller, shiftier linebackers to cover ground in the run and pass game. Robinson brings abilities in both instances as that physical downhill presence, but also that athletic linebacker who can play in space the more he develops.

As Williams points out though, if Robinson is going to take the next step at the position and become a key member of the Black and Gold’s big-name defense, he has to continue to develop above the neck. That was a strength for Williams during his time as the quarterback of the defense in the Steel City.

Robinson remains wet behind the ears and has a lot of developing to do, as far as learning the nuances of the position. Once he gets that figured out though, paired with his physicality and athleticism, the sky is the limit for Robinson in today’s NFL.

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