Patrick Robinson may be the Eagle who benefits most from arrival of Ronald Darby

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It’s been a turbulent offseason for Patrick Robinson. After being signed to a “prove-it” contract earlier in the offseason with the expectation of concreting his role as a starter, Robinson has endured an inconsistent OTA and Training Camp period, leading to several questions over the starting talent on the outside. Once preseason rolled around and Robinson struggled to steal the show, the Eagles pulled the trigger on a move that sent Jordan Matthews to Buffalo in exchange for Ronald Darby. This all but put a cap on the ceiling of Robinson in Philadelphia, or so it seemed.

Upon his arrival Robinson was practicing on the outside as a starter alongside Jalen Mills. It made sense. The Eagles parted ways with both Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin leaving the team’s second-year cornerback alone outside along with rookie Rasul Douglas. The corps was young, inexperienced and loaded with potential…but for the Jim Schwartz Defense to be at its best, the Eagles need reliable corners. Robinson bought experience, leadership, and a veteran presence to a position that lacked all three traits…but when it came to camp, it was a different story.

When former Bills cornerback Ronald Darby arrived at the NovaCare Complex, he was dropped straight in the deep end with the starters. Robinson’s stock seemed to plummet, with the former Colts cornerback being relegated to the third unit to begin with. But then something interesting happened. Perhaps it was the correct domino falling into place, a stroke of strange luck for Robinson, or poor luck for nickel corner Ron Brooks. Either way, the veteran nickel corner who struggled with injury last year encountered the same setback again. Missing time after the arrival of Darby with an injury, Ron Brooks left a vacancy over the middle and as opposed to Aaron Grymes filling that role, the team called on Patrick Robinson to step up to the plate.

Robinson is no stranger to working out of the slot. In fact, it was with the Chargers in 2015 playing in the position that he had arguably played his best season of his career, with 49 combined tackles, an interception, a FF, and 8 passes defensed. His numbers weren’t amazing, but a 55.9% completion rate allowed absolutely was. In his lone year there, Robinson showed the potential he had flashed at times playing for the Saints.

According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 8.9 yards per catch during that lone season with San Diego, the best among corners targeted 40 times or more. When lined up in the slot, he allowed 0.78 yards per coverage snap, the second best among corners targeted over 200 times in the slot. Mic drop.

It may seem like a no-brainer to move him inside anyway, but it wasn’t as simple as that. The Eagles needed starting talent outside and with Ron Brooks and Aaron Grymes contesting the position over the middle, it made little sense to stock all of their veteran corners at one position when it’s needed elsewhere. Even if it wasn’t where Robinson shined the brightest, the Eagles need for a reliable outside option meant that the eight-year veteran had his path decided the moment he entered the building. That path has now been altered however, and the game against Buffalo showed that.

Robinson lined up in the slot in place of the injured Ron Brooks and was able to hold his own during his time on the field, showing a concise backpedal and instinctive play, defensing one pass and showing his reliable tackling ability bringing down 3 receivers. If that wasn’t a strong sign, then the fact he received first-team reps at the position in the following practice when Brooks returned certainly is.

If Darby wasn’t signed, Robinson may not have been moved inside because the team couldn’t afford to lose a starter and leave Rasul Douglas on an island after he’s endured his own rookie journey down at the NovaCare Complex. The coincidental falling of the right dominoes have breathed second life into the prove-it contract of Patrick Robinson, the nature of which has led many to believe his roster spot is anything but locked.

Robinson now has one last shot at locking down his spot on the Eagles roster, in a position he’s simply shined in once before. It was in San Diego in which Robinson earned a prove-it contract with the Colts by playing in the slot. Two years later, history may be set to repeat itself as the former FSU standout looks to cement himself inside with a much higher likelihood of sticking to the roster.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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