Los Angeles Rams: Breaking Down DT A’Shawn Robinson’s Overall Game

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The Los Angeles Rams are potentially activating A’Shawn Robinson for this Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears. That left me with thinking it might be time to take an in-depth look at what the former Alabama Crimson Tide stud brings to Brandon Staley’s Rams defense.

I. Size

We can start by talking about the mammoth defensive lineman in the size department. Robinson is 6-foot-4 and 322 pounds which gives him the perfect size for the interior. Of course, size isn’t everything and it most definitely isn’t a skill but when you can move around the field the way Robinson can it starts to become one. Robinson’s build is going to be important from day one once he enters the trenches for the Rams. Right now, the Rams could use a big body inside as Sebastian Joseph-Day is a tad undersized to take on a nose-tackle role and so is Greg Gaines. Robinson has the perfect size for that role and uses it well to close running lanes.

II. Versatility

Robinson can be used all over the place which is hard to believe when you are talking about a player that is as big as he is. However, he can be used as a nose-tackle, run-stopping defensive end, a situational pass-rushing defensive end, and as a standup pass rusher. That last part I did not make up, he did have reps as a standup pass rusher. He does a nice job of carrying his weight, moving around athletically, and attacking his assignment with the utmost force. Robinson can be an asset as a pass rusher or you can utilize him in the run game and have him either take on blockers to help out his teammates or have him sell out to stop the run. He can really do it all as a defensive tackle and his versatility is a big part of his game. Not every defensive tackle even has the ability to line up as a standup rusher.

III. Strength

Robinson does a nice job of bench pressing the offensive lineman and disengaging the block. He can take on double teams and enjoys doing so. Robinson doesn’t play down to his competition and he knows when he has the strength to create a mismatch and blow up a play.

IV. Sneaky athleticism

Many fans don’t think of A’Shawn Robinson being much of an athlete due to the fact he plays an interior defensive line position and weighs almost 330 pounds. He didn’t test particularly well so how could he be athletic? Well, as shown below, in college he once jumped over the line to block an extra point which was a display of incredible athleticism. On top of that, just look at the tape, Robinson’s movement isn’t rugged, he’s in control and has balance. He’s batted down 16 passes at the line and as shown below, he picked off a pass and took it into the end zone. When he gets a head of steam it’s like a runaway freight train heading towards you.

V. Run defense

This is considered to be his forte. Robinson is a brute in the trenches and will sort through the trash and fight until the whistle to make a play on the ball-carrier. He not only does a great job of hiding, peeking, disengaging, and attacking as evidenced in the Arizona clip before but he also has superb tackling form. He’s very flexible and does a nice job of contorting his body to penetrate through the offensive line and disrupt the play. Robinson diagnoses plays well and displays the motor necessary to play the position.

VI. Pass rushing

It’s not what A’Shawn Robinson is known for but perhaps it should be. I mean he’s such a great run defender but he’s actually a pretty good interior pass rusher. He has a great bull rush and is able with his heavy hands to dominate offensive linemen at the point of attack. His overall length really gives him the advantage to swipe and dip past his assignment. As mentioned above, Robinson has the ability to even be a stand-up pass rusher off the edge. He’s got a quick first step and is able to convert that right into power. Robinson is going to drive back the best the league has to offer with his initial first punch, the way he uses his leverage and his sneaky athleticism. Folks, Robinson is a good pass rusher, he’s underrated in that area and with Aaron Donald lining up next to him, I do think the ceiling for Robinson has grown higher.

How will A’Shawn Robinson fit with this Brandon Staley-led scheme?

I think from the start, assuming Robinson is activated for the Bears game this week. Robinson will ultimately be used as a rotational defensive lineman that will spell Sebastian Joseph-Day and Michael Brockers here and there. I do think the Rams are going to slow-play how they use him. First off, I don’t think the Rams want to tip his usage off on film to the stronger half of their schedule. Secondly, I don’t think the Rams want to get Robinson hurt by overworking him. He hasn’t played football since last season. It’s probably best to ease him into the workload. Third, I think the Rams do like Joseph-Day enough and especially Brockers to not feel the need to rush Robinson in there.

Robinson will likely be eased back in but what does that mean for him down the road, say in a potential postseason game? I think the Rams are going to have fun using Robinson who I imagine will ultimately take the starting spot right from Joseph-Day once he is caught up and not rusty. I think Robinson will be used as a gap-eater, I think he will be used the way Brockers was used back with the Rams 4-3 defense to generate one-on-one matchups for Chris Long, Robert Quinn, and Aaron Donald. Robinson will help anchor so Donald doesn’t have to get locked up with a quadruple team scenario. Not to mention, Robinson is going to help literally everyone once his presence can be felt on the field.

He’s going to be huge for his running mates upfront because he is an unselfish player that as mentioned can anchor and generate attention to free up others. He’s going to be huge for the edge pass rush that has simply not played up to par this year as he will be generating enough pressure and/or attention to force the quarterback into those potential sacks. He’s going to massive for the linebackers that were exposed this past Sunday Night Football game against the 49ers. Robinson will make it easier on the linebackers due to the fact he’s not going to get pushed around in the trenches like a turnstile. Make no mistake, Robinson is mean, he’s nasty and he will bully you. Robinson is very well-refined as mentioned against the run and so it means fewer chances for the linebackers to be the next line of defense. Not to mention he’s going to help the secondary because his pass-rushing ability is going to coincide with Donald’s, Brockers, Leonard Floyd‘s, Terrell Lewis, Jachai Polite‘s, Morgan Fox‘s and others which in turn cuts down the time the secondary will have to lock down their assignment.

In terms and comparison to Staley’s previous defenses, the Rams are essentially welcoming in an Akiem Hicks type of player that can flip the Rams fortunes around. I already have the utmost respect for this defense as is but with Robinson making it his home next to Donald, I really think the possibilities are endless. I know everyone jumped up and down when the Rams got Ndamukong Suh, I know people were happy when the Rams got Nick Fairley but this is different, Robinson is going to do the dirty work that neither of those guys could for Donald. Just watch as the 25-year-old signed through 2023 trots onto the field wearing his number 94 jersey Robert Quinn previously made famous. Robinson is going to transform the in’s and out’s of this defense and the Rams know this. It’s why they signed him after all, and it’s why they stuck by his contract and his side despite Brockers’ deal falling through with the Ravens and Robinson’s heart condition. This team did right by Robinson to pay him more than he would have received had he opted out and Robinson is about to do right by this team.

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