A lot of folks will agree with me here in assessing these two wide receivers as having a better chance of getting drafted by the Rams than Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins. After investing so much in Tavon Austin last year, it seems unlikely that the team would parlay their great position in this year's draft to answer the same position twice. Also, as analyzed in 3k's article, Sammy seems to fit the personalities of Tavon and Chris Givens more. Mike Evans is a tree whose passes would come under heavy competition with the similar sized Jared Cook. The Rams will prefer Jared Cook to take the jump balls and fades in the red zone, so why waste a pick on a second option? Schottenheimer struggled in utilizing Tavon, and crowding the field with a similar style player will only serve to cap their development.
This would suggest that the Rams will want to focus on more pressing needs during the first round and wait until the second to take their potential player. It just so happens, that the two best players available for such a position will be around at that time. The Ram's have been looking for a solid possession receiver who can catch the digs and tough under routes that safeties are notorious for making such ventures painful. When the game is on the line, there has to be that one go-to guy when the team needs it the most. Dez Bryant, one could argue, is the best at this where his strong frame of 6'2, 225 pounds can support him against these hits, as well as laying out his own punishment and getting Yards after Catch. Of the top 10 receivers in this draft, Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews are the closest to this kind of mold. Marquise Lee is less than 200 pounds and would not survive these sort of hits, as well as Brandin Cooks who is closer to Tavons size anyway. Sammy Watkins is another receiver who plays without fear and is willing to lay his body on the line for the ball, yet he has not shown the ability to run a full route tree and weighing 210 pounds in the NFL will not allow for him to sustain the same kinds of hits. He showed durability concerns when taking on this load, which brings to question not his talent but what role as a receiving threat is he most adept at. That was one of his major critiques from his pro day that I believe will be the key reason why he can't come in to a team day 1 and be a solid number 1 option. He will be best served on a Browns team where Josh Gordon can lighten the load for him and allow him to continue to grow into a more finished and polished product. So for now I will continue to count him out of our draft board.
Where Allen Robinson seems to be more explosive than Matthews with a much better broad jump and vertical, Scouts have been concerned over his speed after running a less than stellar 40 yard dash at the combine. However, Dez Bryant showed these same concerns after running a 4.52 ( Robinson ran a 4.56) and he has proven that because of his great route running abilities and strength, that his long speed would not be enough of an impediment to keep him from being elite. Matthews ran a 4.46, however, because of Robinson gaining almost 15 pounds in the offseason compared with Matthews 5, I am still under the assumption that their speed is still very comprable. Either way, with Tavon Austin and Chris Givens on the team as well, both of whom are faster than any of the top receivers in this draft, I would assume that these would be the most ideal receivers to blow the top off the defense. Therefore, Robinson's weight advantage over Matthews is much more important than the marginal speed that he had to give up to do so. So athletically, Allen Robinson seems to be the player best suited to fill the role that the Rams need the most. He has great leaping ability and quickness that is shown in his film through his yards after catch and elusiveness.
Production wise, everyone likes to look at the SEC's leading receiver as the kind of guy who will most definitely be capable of being a sleeper pick in the draft. I was under the same impression too until I watched his film. I was hoping to see dominance over DB's from Alabama and LSU. Rather, I was forced to see plays made against the weakest teams in that conference and the ACC. These few games were played with quite a lot of repetition as well. From pure stat comparison, Jordan Matthews had 112 reception for 1477 yards and 7 touchdowns. Robinson has 15 less receptions for 1432 yards and 6 touchdowns. It is also important to note that Matthews played in one more game because of Penn State being blocked from playing in a bowl game. One could assume that given the same amount of games, Robinson had the same amount of scores and more receiving yards on less receptions. His efficiency speaks for itself, as on less catching opportunities he did more. Looking through the game log, the three best teams that Matthews played were Missouri, South Carolina and Texas A&M. Allen Robinson played against UCF, Ohio State and Wisconsin all of who were top 25 in the nation. While Vanderbilt had stiffer competition, it is all about who takes advantage of the opportunities at hand better. In all these games, Matthews combined to have 23 receptions for 321 yards and 1 touchdown. Allen Robinson against the top 3 teams on his schedule combined for 29 receptions for 438 yards and two touchdowns. This does not even include the amazing plays he made against a very good Michigan team as well. Matthews seemed to have his best games against the weaker teams on his schedule whereas 2 of Robinson's top 3 receiving performances were against these same top teams. Here, his season high in receptions and yards was against Bradley Robey, the best corner both Matthews and Robinson faced all season. Thus, in my opinion, it seems as if Robinson performed better in the more critical and challenging games than Matthews did. While records are important, Robinson set his own records at Penn State as well. Bill O'Brien is given a lot of praise for his ability to groom a QB capable of leading the team to a respectable season, buthow much did the safety in having the 2x Big Ten receiving leader around help such a cause? As I have said before, the catch that Robinson made against Michigan was an instant classic, and reminded me of Crabtree's play against Texas. When the defense knows who the ball is going to in the most critical situations, and you still make the catch, respect is demanded. I love the intangibles that Robinson brings to the table that stats will never adequately encompass. This is the guy who has the ability to really define our receiving core and getting him in the second round will be an incredible bargain for the type of value he brings to our team specifically.