2021 NFL Draft: Aaron Robinson a unique weapon in the secondary

Aaron Robinson, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports)
Aaron Robinson, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports) /

The 2021 NFL Draft class features a number of really intriguing defensive backs among the top 50-75 prospects, but one player in particular might have the best combination of versatility, physicality, and all-around intrigue.

That player is Central Florida defensive back Aaron Robinson, a player who was once a big-time recruit at Alabama who played a handful of snaps as a true freshman in 2016. He transferred to the Knights program in 2017 and sat out the season before seeing some game action in 2018.

By 2019, Robinson had become a full-time player for UCF and put himself firmly on the NFL radar.

What makes Robinson so fascinating compared to other cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class is the fact that he has a lot of experience playing both inside as a nickel cornerback as well as on the outside.

It’s rare for guys coming into the NFL to have such great tape at both spots, but Robinson has definitely got it.

At 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, Robinson’s body type would scream outside corner in the NFL, but his effectiveness in the slot and playing tight man coverage makes him a fascinating option for NFL teams today.

In the NFL right now, there are a growing number of “big slot” types of tight end/wide receiver hybrids. There are few teams that can handle the likes of Travis Kelce and Darren Waller with their combination of size, speed, route savvy, and strong hands.

Could Robinson be a potential answer?

Most slot corners in the NFL are not 6-foot-1, 193-pounds. Some of the best slot corners are under 5-foot-11 and the reason they are limited to slot duty is the fact that they don’t have the size to matchup with those big “X” receivers at the next level.

There are some exceptions, obviously, but for NFL teams right now Robinson might be somewhat of a new prototype.

Considering he’s been at the collegiate level for five years, Robinson’s value might be slightly diminished because there are younger prospects coming out who might present more upside, but this player looks like someone who could plug-and-play as a nickel in the NFL with not only his coverage skills, but instincts against the run and ability to attack the line of scrimmage as a blitzer.

Daniel Jeremiah ranked Robinson as the 39th best player in the entire 2021 NFL Draft class. He has a chance of sneaking into the back end of the first round if a team likes him enough.