Alabama's Cam Robinson hasn't played like a future top-5 pick -- yet
Perhaps the biggest college football news story of the week was the arrest of Alabama starting left tackle Cam Robinson, which puts his immediate playing future very much in doubt.
On the field, Robinson has the size and tools to become a future first-round pick, with many touting him as a potential top-5 selection in next year’s draft. A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide, Robinson certainly looks the part, but he has not played to his potential to this point in his career.
Stepping onto the field as a true freshman offensive tackle in the SEC — as Robinson did in 2014 — is impressive regardless of performance, and there are few freshman linemen capable of playing at a high level in any conference around the nation. In our two years of grading, 32 true freshmen offensive tackles have played at least 250 snaps against Power-5 competition and only three have posted positive overall grades. Robinson is not one of the three – he’s been middle-of-the-pack with slight negatives – but the potential has been evident.
His showcase game came just four games into Robinson’s career, as he faced a difficult matchup against future No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida. Robinson was up to the task, finishing the game without surrendering a pressure while showing the ability to make every block in the running game. From a size, length and movement skills standpoint, Robinson showed everything to make scouts drool over his potential, and doing so against one of the nation’s premiere talents only enhanced that hype.
As impressive as he was in this game, Robinson has had equally unimpressive duds. He has four games over the last two years that have seen him grade at -4.0 or worse, including two in 2015.
Just as we’ve seen very few freshmen come in and grade positively, true sophomores are also unlikely to dominate at offensive tackle. Robinson has a similar five-star pedigree to Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, who was just drafted No. 13 overall by the Dolphins. While Tunsil’s 2014 true sophomore season was good, it certainly was not the dominant performance you’d come to expect from a future first-rounder. Florida State’s Roderick Johnson is another offensive tackle in Robinson’s class garnering similar first-round hype, and against Power-5 competition, results were almost identical between both players last season.
So while Robinson is not all that far behind where Tunsil was at a similar point in his career, he would still need to take a massive step forward and avoid the disastrous games as a junior to warrant the first-round hype he had been getting prior to his arrest. And that’s not even considering the off-field issues he’s now facing.