The New York Giants traded back twice in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft to select Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. Robinson was initially going to attend Kentucky – he is from Frankfort – but Nebraska head coach Scott Frost convinced him to flip his commitment, and take his talents to Lincoln.
Kentucky hired offensive coordinator Liam Coen, a former coach on the Los Angeles Rams staff – which is entirely evident when watching Robinson’s film. This hire piqued the interest of Robinson; couple that with the idea of being closer to home, and Robinson returned to Kentucky in 2021.
In 2021, Robinson was targeted 140 times during his junior year, catching 104 balls (74.3 percent catch rate) with an aDot of 12.9. He finished the season with 1,342-yards and 7 touchdowns.
Robinson was used in many ways but was predominantly aligned in the slot. He was the deep threat off play action, ran a bunch of jet-sweep/touch passes in the backfield (Sean McVay type stuff), and was successful at all three levels of the field. He was a PFF second-team All-American, and was first-team All-SEC, per Phil Steele and PFF.
I had a second-round evaluation on Robinson after the college football season, but I was troubled to see his actual measurements. Kentucky listed him at 5’11, but he is actually 5’8.
Being 5’8 is an outlier. Receivers under 180 pounds are also outliers, and Robinson has historically short arms – 0 percentile for both wingspan and arm length. Betting on outliers in the top-50 carries risk, but many things carry risk. GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have a plan for Robinson’s skills.
The young receiver is dynamic in space with natural separation skills. When he did face press, he showed quick feet to fire and release with burst. He showed some route nuance, albeit his route tree was rudimentary. Robinson is flexible with elite body control, great change of direction, and he’s very hard to corral in space. He’s also very tough, consistently absorbing big hits and getting up.
He has a limited catch radius but showed some ability to adjust away from his frame. He’s a bit more of a body catcher, but that doesn’t prevent him from making acrobatic catches that will make highlight reels on Sunday. I also think he competes as a blocker, but physical limitations prevent him from consistently winning.
His skill-set kind of reminds me of Kadarius Toney. I think the 2021 first-rounder’s change of direction is more elite than Robinson’s, but they have comparable speed. Neither are true burners and both were tracked down several times on huge plays during their final season in college.
Both are exceptional athletes who are very dangerous in tight space with elite evasive abilities. The Daboll/Kafka offense is still unknown, but bet on quick-hitting plays and designed touches to provide opportunities for both Toney and Robinson.
Schoen was asked after Day 2 about the redundant nature of the two players’ skill-sets, and the new general manager replied “is that a bad thing?” Schoen has a point. Multiple players who are this dynamic with the ball in their hands can be a good thing for the offense.
The combination of Robinson and Toney can be potent and stress defenses. I’m looking forward to their implementation together. Here’s a quick breakdown of Wan’Dale Robinson’s tape.