Matthew Stafford isn’t the only one.
The signing of A’Shawn Robinson in 2020 was probably met more with confusion than praise. It’s not that fans were upset with the addition; a 25-year-old former top-50 pick out of Alabama who might only be scratching the surface of his potential is a notable transaction for the Rams.
But why invest more cap space into the defensive tackle position when you’ve already got Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers?
On top of that, the pandemic and opt outs brought on an agreement between Robinson and the team to let him come back at his own pace, reset the beginning of his two-year contract, and slowly work him into the rotation. Robinson eventually appeared in eight games, but only for 111 snaps. Would he ever have a vital role on the team?
Patience makes perfect.
As we start the top-10 of our top-20 most important Rams of 2022—a top-10 that so happens to be evenly divided between offensive and defensive players—it’s another defensive lineman who got better as the year got longer. Greg Gaines checked in at #12 and now it’s Robinson’s turn.
#10 - DL A’Shawn Robinson
Nobody should be criticized for forgetting that Robinson was even on the team for the first season-and-a-half of his contract. There wasn’t much to speak of in 2020 and then through the first eight games of 2021, Robinson was playing in roughly 30-35% of L.A.’s defensive snaps.
Sometimes Robinson would barely see the field for more than 10 snaps, but like Gaines, he was ready for a bigger role in the second half of the year and playoffs.
Wow, A'Shawn Robinson has not aged a day since he left Alabama.— CB969 (@CB969onRBR) February 14, 2022
He still looks like he is 46. pic.twitter.com/uOeEa9Ltrs
Robinson saw the field for a season-high (at that point) 66% of the snaps in a Week 9 loss to the Titans, recording six tackles. The next week, he played in 75% and had eight tackles. The next week, Robinson had his first TFL of the season against the Packers.
He was now seeing the field for roughly 55-60% of the snaps and Robinson recorded his first two sacks of the season in Weeks 17 and 18 to close out the Rams’ 12-5 regular season record.
A’Shawn Robinson had a career-high 67 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two sacks. Better yet, Donald, Gaines, and Robinson could reasonably claim to be the best defensive line in the NFL for last season’s playoffs and they remain together for a run-it-back scenario in 2022.
In four postseason games, Robinson proved integral in stuffing the line of scrimmage, recording 22 tackles, as well as a sack of Joe Burrow in the Super Bowl.
A’Shawn Robinson was one of the most underrated performers this year. A major factor in winning the game in the trenches. His super bowl performance was stellar! #94 finished the season+post season with 89 tackles. After a injury riddled 2020 big #94 had a huge comeback season! pic.twitter.com/yN4wkLq1v8— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) February 16, 2022
Now 27, Robinson enters a contract year with a $9.5 million cap hit in 2022 and a chance to capitalize on his recent success with a another tax bracket on his next deal in 2023. Robinson hasn’t been known for his pass rushing, but he did have three sacks over L.A.’s final six games—if he managed five or more sacks in 2022, Robinson could argue for a contract close to that of someone like Javon Hargrave.
Hargrave signed a three-year, $39 million contract in 2020.
Robinson might be one of the best run-stoppers in all of football, but we haven’t seen teams show a willingness to pay those players as much as the ones who get to the quarterback. We did see Robinson do that recently. If he shows an aptitude for that again in 2023, there’s no telling where his ceiling as a player could actually be. And since he’ll be 28 when he’s a free agent again, he could still have another four or five years as a starting defensive lineman.
Will that happen with the Rams? Should the Rams prioritize Robinson or Gaines?
And who will be #9 on the list?
Who should rank higher on the most-important Rams of 2022?
This poll is closed
DT A’Shawn Robinson
DT Greg Gaines