NFL Draft: Kenny Robinson To Carolina
Former West Virginia safety Kenny Robinson parlayed his quick tour of the XFL into a fifth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Robinson, who created some buzz as the only draft-eligible player coming out of the now-defunct league, lasted a bit longer than some projected, but still wound up with a solid position, joining former WVU quarterback Will Grier in Charlotte. He was the Panthers’ fifth-consecutive selection on defense in the draft, which included safety Jeremy Chinn in the second round.
Robinson displayed strong run support and a nose for the football at both WVU and with the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL. He’s at his best at the back end of the defense, where he can track the ball in the air and provide strong downhill run support. A big hitter who will need some technique sharpening on his pursuit angles and tackling, Robinson could fit as an extra defensive back and a special teamer early in his career.
With the 152nd overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select…
Kenny Robinson, S, West Virginia/St. Louis Battlehawks pic.twitter.com/po6ODTftm4
— PFF (@PFF) April 25, 2020
Robinson starred early at WVU as a freshman and sophomore in 2017 and 2018, earning all-Big 12 honors. After being dismissed from WVU for academic fraud in the summer of 2019, he played in five games this spring in the rebooted XFL, recording 21 tackles and two interceptions before that league was felled by COVID-19.
Prior to the draft, Robinson wrote an open letter to NFL general managers on The Players’ Tribune, detailing the struggles he faced with his mother’s illness and the academic incident.
Robinson’s NFL draft profile emphasizes his hitting ability and strength at playing as a high safety in the middle of the field, but questions his raw cover ability. He might not have the speed to cover fast slot receivers in man-to-man situations, but has the length and size to battle some pass-catching tight ends. He could also be a positive in cover two looks where he has less ground to cover.
In addition to Chinn, Carolina lists veterans Juston Burris (five seasons) and Tre Boston (seven) on its current roster. Burris joined the Panthers as a free agent this past season and has 52 games of NFL experience, while Boston is a returning starter. T.J. Green and Quin Blanding are also bigger defensive backs listed on the roster, but Blanding has yet to play in an NFL game while Blanding has appeared in just one NFL game in the past two seasons.