Kenny Robinson Jr. is the Carolina Panthers’ most underhyped 2020 draft pick.
From the top to the bottom of their entire 2020 draft class in the first year of the Matt Rhule era, the Panthers took strictly defensive players to re-shape a unit that ranked 31st in the NFL last season in points allowed.
Not only did the Panthers rank extremely low in points allowed last season, but many of their top players also departed either via free agency or retirement.
Notably, the Panthers lost an all-timer in linebacker Luke Kuechly, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Mario Addison, pass rusher Bruce Irvin, and safety Eric Reid.
The Panthers’ re-tooled defense will have to earn its lumps with a bunch of rookies in the 2020 NFL season, not the least of which will be former West Virginia star safety Kenny Robinson Jr., one of the most underhyped and fascinating rookies in the NFL.
Kenny Robinson’s crazy NFL journey
Robinson starred for two seasons at West Virginia where he was a big-time impact player, picking off seven passes and racking up 123 total tackles in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
He is a heat-seeking missile as a tackler and has some of the best reactive quickness and ball skills of any safety in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
He has immediate starter upside for the Panthers despite being just a fifth-round draft pick, and proved that by dominating both in college and as an XFL player this past season.
Robinson entered the transfer portal after the 2018 college season but instead of going to another school, he went to the XFL which did not have a restriction against college players who were three years removed from their high school graduating class like the NFL does.
He went pro for as long as the XFL was able to survive, but the ultimate goal for Robinson was always to get to the NFL and he’s always had NFL chops at the safety position.
The Panthers took advantage of the fact that he didn’t play college ball this past season, selecting him in the fifth round after using an earlier selection on another potential stud at safety in Jeremy Chinn.
With Robinson, the Panthers may have the biggest day three steal of the 2020 draft class. He’s been a playmaker at every level of football and has also adjusted quickly both to the college and pro (XFL) game.
This guy can do a little bit of everything, and when you watch him play, you have to wonder how he wasn’t a top 100 pick. He didn’t get a pro day, wasn’t invited to the Combine, and was overlooked for more than four rounds of the NFL Draft.
Don’t be surprised if he ends up a starter for the Panthers sooner rather than later.