Showing up to training camp overweight is usually the kiss of death for any NFL player, but especially for a rookie. That's why the Seahawks were alarmed when fifth-round pick Alton Robinson showed up 15 pounds heavier than his playing weight at Syracuse.
That concern quickly transitioned into intrigue when Robinson impressed from the onset of training camp.
"He surprised all of us in that he's bigger than we thought," Pete Carroll said on Monday. "He's in the 270s. It's helped him. He's a powerful rusher. He already has good finesse and good moves and understands how to play on the edge and all, but you can see him break the edge down some because he's stronger and faster than some of the sleeker guys who are in the 250s.
"I think he was at 277. He's running in the 4.6s and so you put the whole package together – he's done well. He's done real well."
Carroll also praised Robinson's ability to learn the defensive scheme in the meeting room and translate it to the practice field.
Robinson has been the primary benefactor of second-round pick Darrell Taylor being on PUP with a lingering shin/knee injury that stems from offseason surgery. Taylor was supposed to be the rookie sensation off the edge. While he still might be, he'll certainly be playing catch-up to Robinson whenever he does return (we have no idea when that will be).
Last week in practice, Robinson knocked down a Russell Wilson pass and then stuffed a running play off the edge in the span of just a few snaps.
"I think Alton is doing a hell of a job," Bruce Irvin said of Robinson on Monday. "I think Alton is doing a really good job of coming to work every day – finding something to get better at each and every day. He's really working his tail off.
"It's translating for him. He's making plays. He's getting sacks. Hopefully he can keep doing that, and hopefully he can contribute and play a major role for us when the season starts."
Added Carroll: "He's made a really good impression. We're probably more excited than we thought we could be at this time, this early in camp. That's a real positive."
But where will Robinson fit into the defensive line rotation on game day? He was drafted as a LEO, but that's Benson Mayowa's job in base and likely Bruce Irvin's job on passing downs. Those veterans were the key free agent additions brought in to bolster the pass rush.
Robinson's added weight may be a blessing in disguise for Seattle as it could now make him a candidate to play at the 5-tech. The Seahawks don't have as much depth there, and both Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier have been quiet in camp. Collier is also nursing some sort of injury at the moment as he missed Monday's practice. For comparison's sake, Robinson is only two pounds lighter than Green (279). Collier, given his need to play inside as well, is listed at 291.
So if Seattle's goal is to get its best 11 players on the field, Robinson could overtake those two guys for playing time.
Carroll noted that the team's first impression of Robinson wasn't that he may have been lazy during the offseason. The Seahawks knew that the rookie trained at Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue along with a few teammates, including Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. That means Robinson's added bulk was intentional, potentially because he, as well as his trainer Tracy Ford, figured his best track to immediate playing time would be at 5-tech.
The Seahawks, while previously unaware of this thought process, now appear happy to go along with it.
"I'm not sure where his weight will settle by the end of camp, but he's a powerful guy," Carroll said. "We don't want to take that away from him and try to make him some light guy – that's not his style. He's got good hips and lower body strength and power. It shows up."
Robinson should be on every Seahawks fan's radar as a potential immediate impact player this season. Outside of Damien Lewis, who will start at right guard, we could be talking about Robinson as Seattle's most valuable rookie in 2020.
Why Alton Robinsons emergence could be bad news for Rasheem Green originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest