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Xs & Os: Janarius Robinson's Quick Burst and 'Crazy Long Arms' Could Help Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. — NFL draft experts evaluate hundreds of prospects each year, grinding through film to look for players who stand out.

When Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports watched Florida State's defense in 2020, it was defensive end Janarius Robinson who caught his eye right away.

"His burst off the snap … I wrote in my scouting notebook that he looked like a pass-catching tight end on the field," Trapasso said. "When he's chasing a running back from the back side, picking up a fumble … it's insane how athletic he is at that size.

"In terms of physical traits, he's got crazy long arms," Trapasso added. "Robinson certainly checks the [Vikings prototype] box, too."

Minnesota selected Robinson in the fourth round with the 134th overall pick.

He was the second defensive end taken by the Vikings (following Pittsburgh's Patrick Jones II in the third round), as Minnesota looked to boost a pass rush that recorded just 23.0 sacks in 2020.

Trapasso said Robinson may not have the collection of pass rush moves that Jones does, but he opined that he is more athletic and always finds a way to get to the quarterback.

Plus, Trapasso said, getting a toolsy player in the fourth round was immense value for Minnesota. Robinson is listed at 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 260 pounds, but he also has 35.25-inch arms, and his wingspan measured at an incredible 86.25 inches.

"The pass rush move arsenal is not quite there yet, but he's bendy … and the burst and explosion off the snap … he's just a different type of athlete," Trapasso said. "Later in the draft, you look for the next Danielle Hunter — and I know that's been repeated over and over again and it's an unfair comparison — but it makes sense to roll the dice in the fourth round on someone like Robinson.

"He showed flashes, I truly believe, of being a first-round pick. Flashes, not consistency," Trapasso added. "But his speed rush and how he can dip and bend [despite] being that tall and that big was very impressive."

Let's take a look at Robinson's college career, as well as his potential impact as a rookie in 2021.

View photos of Florida State DE Janarius Robinson who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Player Profile: Janarius Robinson, Florida State, redshirt senior

Robinson began his college career in 2016, but redshirted that season. He then progressed over the next few seasons before becoming a starter in 2019 and 2020.

He recorded 9.0 tackles for loss in 2019 and 7.0 more in a shortened 2020 season. recording 3.0 sacks in each of the past two seasons.

Robinson capped off his college career by participating in the Reese's Senior Bowl.

"It gave me a great opportunity to come out there against some of the top talent in the country," Robinson said. "Just put my talents and what God gave me on display. I feel like I did a great job capitalizing on that opportunity and showing what I can do."

Robinson also excelled in the classroom, as he was named to the 2020 All-ACC Academic Team. He was also a two-time member of the ACC Honor Roll.

2021 Outlook: The Vikings are set at one starting defensive end spot with Danielle Hunter, while others such as Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum could battle for the opposite starting job.

Trapasso said that Robinson could be viewed as a situational rusher who could potentially wreak havoc on opposing offenses on certain downs.

"He's more of a work in progress, but don't be surprised if he has some insane splash plays," Trapasso said. "He is an absolute freak [of an athlete] at a premium position."

Trapasso explained further, noting that he doesn't expect Robinson to start much or even play a high number of snaps in 2021.

But much like Hunter did as a rookie in 2015, he could see the field on third down when offenses are in passing situations. Hunter had 6.0 sacks in 392 defensive snaps (37 percent of Minnesota's time on the field) in 2015.

Those scenarios, Trapasso said, would allow Robinson to get accustomed to the league while he slowly builds up his game.

"You want him to pin his ears back and rush the passer. They shouldn't be worried about him early in the season on first down when teams are more likely to run," Trapasso said. "They should want him to use that outside speed rush and threaten with his speed. If he can develop just one countermove off the explosive outside speed rush, that's really all he would need to be that situational rusher.

"By November and December, when the Vikings are hopefully making a push for the playoffs, if you add someone with that level of athleticism to the revamped defensive line … it will ultimately be a very good group to send at opposing quarterbacks," Trapasso added.

Coachspeak: "I'm really pleased with the way that Pat and Janarius are working. They're getting better every day. They're both smart players. They're both long and athletic like I thought they were coming in. They're getting better every week, and I just think these reps that they're getting are very valuable to them so when they come back to camp, they have a greater understanding of what we're trying to do."

— Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/defensive line coach Andre Patterson

Film Breakdown: Former Vikings player and coach Pete Bercich, now a Vikings Radio Network analyst, looked at some of Robinson's tape at Florida State.

And while Trapasso envisions more of a situational role for Robinson, an excited Bercich said he believes the defensive end could actually see the field quite a bit in 2021.

"Normally we don't get excited about fourth-round picks … but with his ability to play the run with his strength, speed, ability to hit … he has a great chance at the starting spot opposite Danielle Hunter," Bercich said.

Bercich noted that Robinson can excel both against the run and the pass, and highlighted a play that demonstrated the latter at the 1 minute, 23 second mark of the film breakdown.

"This is an example of a club and a rip to get himself up field," Bercich said. "This is what I love … his effort, his tenacity.

"He falls on the ground and gets back up and gets in on the sack," Bercich said. "You see a lot of effort plays out of this guy."

Bercich also pointed out his power, pad level and leverage, plus his ability to make opposing quarterbacks, running backs and linemen aware of his presence.

"This guy can hit. He brings it," Bercich said. "When he hits, he has what they call 'lead in the pencil.' He can really bust a guy's chops when he gets a chance."

Bercich wrapped up film review with an example of how Robinson excelled against tight ends on the line of scrimmage, something he'll have to do in the NFL.

"The tight end doesn't even get a piece of him," Bercich said at the 5:40 mark. "He gets his big paws on him, pushes him right off, gets up field and makes the running back flatten himself out.

"You're not going to be able to block this guy 1-on-1 with a tight end consistently," Bercich added.