For every NFL team, there are two starting offensive tackles and basically three starting cornerbacks. The status of those five players from the 2016 Seattle Seahawks are as follows:
- Now playing for the San Francisco 49ers
- Recovering from gruesome leg injury
- Making national headlines with rumors of being traded away
- Severely under performed shiny new contract
- Has played the game of football for almost 365 days
Feel free to guess who is who. Consider it a Seahawks fandom trivia challenge and ask your friends or something.
Considering that group makes up 22.7% of the team’s starting depth chart, it’s only natural that the media, both local and national, are looking to the first round of the NFL Draft to bolster up the bleak outlook that was outlined above. After the talking heads identified that those were two of the biggest “needs” for Seattle, the next logical step was to look for players at those positions who generally fall around 26th pick in other mock drafts from other talking heads.
That’s when offensive tackle Cam Robinson and cornerback Marlon Humphrey first started getting mentioned. And also when my head popped up in excitement from the hole I was hiding in.*
*If you don’t remember me from last year when Jarran Reed was selected, I’m your resident Alabama sports writer. Come check out sister site RollBamaRoll.com if you just can’t get enough of me here
So, what do I, the expert and generally smart guy, think about either of these fine men being selected to play for Pete Carroll?
I’m glad you asked. Here are my opinions:
Standing at 6’6” 322 pounds and sporting massive 35 1⁄2 -inch arms, Cam Robinson has been billed as a surefire first round draft pick ever since he won the starting left tackle job as a true freshman.
He quickly acquitted himself and rose the ranks, gaining more hype with every game, over the course of his freshman year and was an easy choice for being selected for the Freshman All-American team.
You ever heard of a sophomore slump? So has Cam. During 2015 (Alabama’s title run), Robinson suffered from a few different injuries all year, most notably a foot issue that lasted most of the season. During that time, he was a liability just as often as he was impressive. The problem was that he already had the hype behind him and continued to make highlight blocks often enough to keep that train going while simultaneously souring many who noticed his weaknesses and grew tired of listening to the hype.
Before the 2016 season, Robinson was arrested along with three other guys, for a joint of Mary-J and a handgun registered in Alabama instead of Louisiana being found in their car. He was later released, given some community service, and made every LSU fan mad that he wasn’t arrested for life.
And so, a polarizing prospect was born.
Last year, Robinson was back to full health, and he played well enough to keep himself in the first round conversation — some even consider him the top tackle in the draft, though its not an extremely common consideration.
Now, I’m not a scout and won’t pretend to be. But what I can offer is that I’ve watched every single game that Cam Robinson has played in college, and groaned at EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of his false starts.
When you get asked questions about what he can do, such as: Can he backpedal smoothly? Is he quick enough to defend the speed rush and subsequent inside move? Is he strong enough to move bodies in short yardage? Does he have a powerful initial punch? Does he destroy fools on wide receiver screens?, then there’s really only one answer to all of them: Most of the time.
When he’s on, Robinson has the talent, athleticism, body, and technical training to be the most complete lineman in the draft. (Maybe. I haven’t actually watched many others to compare him to.) He’s big, but not sloppy-big, and he’s definitely quick enough to shut down anyone in the passing game.
And his track record shows it. He has tape against some of the best pass rushers in this draft, Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett. And in Garrett’s case, the matchup was overwhelmingly in Robinson’s favor.
So, why then do many think he’ll still be available by pick 26?
While most of the time he looks like an elite blocker in every aspect, he also has moments of spacing out where he looks totally lost as a defender easily slips around him to make a play in the backfield. Then he spirals.
It’s actually a pretty routine sequence of events. First, he’ll be a step late on a speed rush to the outside. On the next play, he gets nervous and false starts. Then, a play or two later, he gets nervous for the opposite reason and doesn’t react to the snap as the defensive lineman cuts across in front of him for an easy tackle. It’s a vicious cycle, and usually takes a killed drive or two for him to recover.
As an aside, the only truly consistent weakness I’ve seen in his game is that he has a tendency to half-lunge when he’s lead blocking out in space, and a savvy defender can absolutely work him out there.
So, were I John Schneider, would I pick Cam Robinson at #26? Would he fit in Seattle?
Yes. I would. I think that most of Robinson’s issues are on the mental side, and I think he would respond well to Pete Carroll’s positive style of coaching, as he seems to be a player that builds upon success to play even better, though also spiraling in moments of weakness. But when he’s on, he’d be the best player on the line.
Besides, they’ve been looking to replace Russell Okung right? Well Robinson definitely has enough false starts in him that you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Part of an Alabama legacy family, Humphrey quickly became a fan favorite and is an easy guy to root for. He’s athletic, lengthy, aggressive, a big hitter, and always full of energy and excitement. When he makes a play, he sprints around aimlessly afterwards in a display of pure, unadulterated exuberance. When a teammate makes a play, you can witness Humphrey streaking across the field to be the first to dogpile on his friend. He’s an exciting player to watch, and a lot of fun to pull for.
Until someone high-points a ball over his head.
At first, I thought it was just bad luck that he kept getting just barely out-jumped for a high-pointed ball on a perfect throw. Then it kept happening. For two years.
Truthfully, I can’t to this day figure out why it keeps happening. Humphrey is an Olympic-caliber track athlete, and has the hip fluidity, fleet of foot, and pure speed to stay in coverage with any receiver in the nation. Even when his aggressive nature gets the better of him and he jumps on a double-move, he’s often fast enough to get back into the play from behind before the ball even gets there.
Despite that, he, for whatever reason, just can not get his hands in the right place to break up deeper throws — fades, streaks, etc. He can be step-for-step with a receiver all the way down the field, turn his head at the right time, and then miss the ball and give up the touchdown. And the issue actually got worse in his second year as a starter than it was during his first season.
On the other hand, he’s a phenom against a short passing attack. I’ve never seen a corner who can blow up receiver screens as well as Humphrey does. He often will take out both the blocker and the ball carrier with one go. Against slants, quick outs, and curls, he’s easily quicker than most any college receiver, and the few times QBs even attempt to throw against him in that area, he either gets a hand on it or decleats the receiver.
So, would I draft Marlon Humphrey with the 26th pick?
No. I wouldn’t.
If Seattle ran an aggressive Tampa 2 defensive scheme, then I wouldn’t hesitate to nab him, but I don’t think he would be very successful in Carroll’s cover 3 scheme. His inability to track a ball in the air on deep throws is something that I’m not sure can be corrected with coaching, and would be detrimental when trying to cover a deep third of the field with no help.
What are your thoughts?
Obviously, I’m a biased Alabama alumni, but I do my best to remain impartial. Before writing this, I wrote my impressions on the two players just from memory of the games in real time, then went back and actually watched tape on five games from different points in the season to confirm/refute my memories. But one set of eyes is never infallible, so your input is welcome, as are any questions you have that I didn’t address.
Would you be happy with either Cam Robinson or Marlon Humphrey at #26?
Which Alabama player would you prefer for Seahawks?
This poll is closed
Neither is good