The intriguing news coming out of the NBA in the last few days is that former Husky guard and current OKC Thunder..ite(?) Nate Robinson is thinking about taking a shot at the NFL while the NBA is locked out. My first impression is that you're looking at a guy that's 27 and hasn't played organized football since '02. A decade away from anything is not typically going to help your skills at it much. Also, cornerback is a very, very difficult position. There are many intricacies and nuances that require years of experience in order to master, and we're talking about the NFL here - the highest level of competition. Though he is a ridiculous athlete with fast-twitch muscles on par (or better than) with NFL athletes, the learning curve will be high.
That being said, let's consider the possibility, for fun if nothing else. If the Hawks were to be interested, and that seems like a long-shot considering the amount of guys they already have in their secondary and the fact he'd probably take over a year to develop into anything to put on the field, he has a better chance of trying out this year over other years because the rumor is that NFL rosters will be expanded in training camp and preseason. If he were invited to camp, he'd have to show the coaching staff what he can do very, very quickly. The height argument is there as well, - they've been on record saying they like taller corners and they traded Josh Wilson last season. I don't necessarily believe that the height issue is a deal-breaker though, especially for a nickel or dime defensive back. The true cornerbacks will be taller as long as Pete Carroll is coaching, but the slot and bandit guys don't necessarily have to be 6'0 or more, just ask Roy Lewis.
Theoretically, Nate could be the type of guy you plug in on certain situations (Bandit, Dime) to play some man coverage on shorter slot guys. We've been amassing the manpower to match up against the bigger receivers and have talked here ad nauseam about how Pete Carroll and John Schneider love taller corners, but if Kelly Jennings is gone the Hawks may be mismatched against outside speed guys like DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Devin Hester and quick, shifty slot-type guys like Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Jacoby Ford.
The Hawks' obvious answer to these players was to match Earl Thomas up against guys like that, which they did against Amendola when they played the Rams, but if the goal is to give Earl's position more flexibility on defense, maybe they could use a guy with fast twitch speed and toughness to lock those types of guys down. Robinson certainly has the attitude and confidence required of the position, and it isn't that hard for me to imagine him having some success.
Rob Rang, for one, doesn't doubt Nate's ability to play. He said, "The 5-09, 180 pound Robinson is an extraordinary athlete whose quickness, vertical jump and surprising physicality always made him a better candidate for the NFL than the NBA, at least that was the opinion of one young NFL Draft analyst back in 2003 [Rang is referring to himself there]. He certainly has been blessed with athletic genes. Father Jacque is the only player in college football history to have been named the MVP of the Rose Bowl (1982) and the Orange Bowl (1985). A running back, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round in 1985 and later played with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com agrees that Robinson could play in the NFL and emphatically states, "If I were a team that needed a cornerback, I'd sure as hell give Robinson a call."Brandt, of course, prior to working with the NFL as an analyst, spent nearly 30 years as the Dallas Cowboys' Vice President of Player Personnel."
Brock Huard thinks he could play in the NFL as well, and would love to see it.
Whether NateRob gets a chance to tryout for a team remains to be seen. It remains to be seen if he's even serious about trying out. If there is a front office or coach in the NFL that would be open to giving him a tryout, I'd put my money on Pete Carroll, but even that seems to have long odds. The one key that Vasilii pointed out to me is that if Nate's going to get a shot, it's because he's fully committed to a switch to football. As he said, "Is Nate really dedicated to switching to football or is he just bored/wanting to get paid while his main sport is locked out? If the latter, PC won't even look at him, he has absolutely no interest in guys not absolutely 100% committed to their craft."
The Seahawks drafted three defensive backs this season, two last season, and have a few others on the practice squad and in free agency that could return. Nate would be up against some pretty stiff competition but I doubted he could compete in the NBA and he proved me wrong. I'm going to go on record here and say I'm not entirely convinced he would fail in the NFL. He's that good of an athlete and competitor.
If he ever had a pick six and dunked the ball over the goal-post it might be the raddest thing the NFL has ever seen.