In the same manner as my Leonard Floyd article, I went out and talked to a writer who covered A’Shawn Robinson for SB Nation’s Detroit Lions blog, Pride of Detroit.
Although the Rams ended up re-signing Michael Brockers to a three-year deal after they had signed Robinson to fill his spot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them, along with Aaron Donald, on the field at the same time cloggin up the middle of that defense.
Hope you guys enjoy! Let’s get it.
1.) For those who haven’t watched a ton of Lions games, what can you tell us about the kind of player that the Rams are getting in A’Shawn Robinson?
Robinson is a big, tough run defender that has had a ton of promise since entering the NFL, but has yet to fully put it together. His best season was in 2018, when he was playing alongside Damon Harrison Sr. It was at that point that it looked like Robinson had turned a corner. At that time, veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said that he believed Robinson will “be probably one of the top three run defenders or d-linemen in the league.”
Unfortunately, Robinson underwhelmed in his final year in Detroit. He didn’t seem as effective when Harrison wasn’t playing as well next to him, and that’s kind of the story of his career. When everything is running smoothly around him, he tends to play well. But when things aren’t going well, he can go long periods of time without being noticeable.
2.) If you were Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, how would you utilize Robinson’s skill-set to maximize his potential in L.A.?
I would limit his snaps and probably make him a two-down player. Though early in his career he was endearingly called “A-Swat” for all of his knocked-down passes (13 PBUs in his first two seasons combined), he offers very little in terms of pass rush, and is just more of a boulder that is hard to move. Get him in on obvious rushing downs, red zone plays, and third-and-shorts. And if you’ve got the personnel, pair him with someone who will draw more attention. I’m sure Aaron Donald will do.
3.) What are his strengths? Weaknesses?
His strengths are his literal strength and his active hands. It led to those early knockdowns and has continued with his strong ability to tackle. As for his weaknesses, he doesn’t really have any effective pass-rush moves, and it often feels like he has some motivation problems based on his attitude.
4.) What kind of player are the Rams in getting in Robinson off the field? What kind of personality/presence is he bringing to the locker room and his position group?
Robinson has a very intimidating facade. He was very standoffish with the Lions media after his rookie year and basically completely shut down almost every interview request. His temperment would often boil over in the locker room, as he cussed out reporters who either physically got in his way or asked a question he didn’t like. There was even an odd moment I personally witnessed in which it appeared Robinson was angrily seeking out a teammate after a practice only to have an entourage of teammates follow him to calm him down (You can read more on that incident here). On the field, too, we often saw emotions get the best of him, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from time to time.
But outside the football arena, he actually appears to be much more affable. He performed as part of an NFL dance troop on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and his signing video with the Rams shows that he’s got a pretty decent sense of humor.
5.) Robinson was with the Lions for four seasons. He has five sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss to his name at this point in his career (per Pro Football Reference). Was Robinson a let-down after being drafted in the second round back in 2016?
Considering Robinson was considered a steal by many in the second round, it’s hard to view his career in Detroit as anything but a mild disappointment. He’ll always have a very solid 2018 season—after he was a healthy scratch for the first couple games, oddly enough—but he will mostly be remember for never reaching his physical potential in Detroit.
6.) What’s the fan consensus on Robinson signing elsewhere? Will fans miss him? Why or why not?
Most fans in Detroit were ready to move on from Robinson. Back in January, we held a poll and only 32 percent of fans wanted to re-sign Robinson, while another 34 percent said they’d want him back if Damon Harrison Sr. retired. The Lions ended up releasing Harrison, and it didn’t appear Detroit made any effort to re-sign Robinson. It seems both sides had moved on. From the fan’s point of view, I think they viewed him as part of the problem of the Lions’ much larger defensive issues and were fed up with his negative attitude.
7.) What’s your favorite memory regarding Robinson? Any particular moment in a game that will stick with you long after he’s gone?
Without a doubt, it’s his 2017 pick six of Drew Brees in one of the wackiest games of all time: