By: John Wachter (@John_M_Wachter)
On February 2nd, owner Steve Bisciotti held the annual “State of the Ravens” presser for 2018. This years’ breakdown was different than those preceding it in a multitude of ways, most notably separating itself by having Bisciotti address the media alone, along with the announcement of longtime GM Ozzie Newsome’s retirement. From the general mood and tone of the event, one could come away with the feeling of sweeping changes coming soon, for better or worse.
Aside from the Ozzie Newsome announcement, the biggest quote in the local media headlines pertained to free agency. Steve Bisciotti suggested that the team was looking to make a “splash” this year, and everyone seemed to have their guesses and dream scenarios ready immediately. From Jarvis Landry to Jimmy Graham, we all speculated who we’d sign or trade for; but for the most part, the fans had one goal in mind: obtain an offensive play-maker. With the Browns shattering hearts state-wide (Including mine), the addition of Jarvis Landry is off the table, but there’s still one name the Baltimore area should be looking out for this off-season.
Allen Robinson has spent the first four years of his career as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars after being selected in the second round in 2014. After a decent rookie year where he showed some flashes, he took the league by storm in year two. A phenomenal 1400 yard season saw him lead the league with 14 touchdowns, and Robinson quickly became one of the top young stars to watch out for. His follow up 2016 season was still solid, but saw a significant dropoff. Despite similar targets and receptions, he had about 500 fewer yards and 6 total touchdowns. Looking to bounce back Robinson, unfortunately, tore his ACL after his first catch of the 2017 season and was surprisingly not franchise tagged by Jacksonville prior to the start of the 2018 free agency period.
When healthy, Robinson is an absolute stud. He’d be considered a true #1 receiver on almost any offense, and would be far and away the best playmaker we’ve seen on the team this millennium.
At 6’2″ tall and 220 lbs, Robinson has absolutely ideal size to line up on the outside. He may not have the blazing speed that guys like Tyreek Hill or Brandin Cooks possess, but he makes up for it with some of the best route running in the whole league. Not only does Robinson have the ability to run every route in the game, he has the ability to run them all well. A combination of great foot movement, head fakes, and a high football IQ give him the ability to get open routinely, even against the league’s best defenders. His great first step and overall acceleration make him play faster than he is, and makes him a dangerous threat at every level of the field.
Though primarily an outside receiver, Jacksonville also regularly had Robinson line up in the slot, where he continued to excel. One of the big concerns scouts had with him coming out of college was his technique, he was often cited for trapping the ball against his body. From what I saw in his NFL film, those problems seem to have been worked out by his coaches. Robinson shoots his hands out and grabs the ball when possible, and his strength allows him to hold on even when taking hits. This, combined with his crisp routes, make him a viable option wherever he’s lined up, and makes him a nightmare to defend.
He also thrives at jump balls and contested catches. His ability to work back to the ball and control his body in the air to adjust for off-target throws may be his most impressive asset. Thankfully, as a member of the Jaguars he got to show off that skillset often. It doesn’t matter if he’s between two defenders, diving on the sidelines, or taking a shot from a safety running at full speed, Robinson holds on to the ball like it’s his first born child. Think Anquan Boldin, but taller, faster, and more athletic.
Robinson is a player with a high motor and an even higher ceiling. An ACL injury is absolutely devastating, especially for a player who relies on his abilities to cut and run double moves on routes as much as he does. There is a definite risk, and there’s no doubt that the injury will scare off some teams and lower his contract cost overall. But honestly, for a team in our cap situation, that might be a good thing.
Allen Robinson should be the big free agent splash we’re looking for. At the age of 24 (25 when the season starts), he’s entering the prime of his career, and could become the face of our offense immediately. The idea of the team signing him and drafting a guy like DJ Moore, who I believe could be the best receiver in the draft, is something that makes me optimistic about the team’s future and excited for the league year to officially begin tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Allen Robinson has the skillset, athleticism, grittiness, and drive that should be valued in a top receiver. He can gain separation at any depth of the field, beat double coverage, and make the tough, contested catches in tight coverage. He could become a safety blanket for Joe Flacco and is a viable option for when no one seems open. His work ethic and desire to fight for every yard allow him to gain big chunks of yardage out of plays that seem dead, and his signing would be an immediate difference maker for the team. He’s a true number one receiver who, if signed, would give Flacco an option who he has confidence in, and could help us get back to the playoffs very soon.