Wan'Dale Robinson - WR - Kentucky
Welcome to the rookie profile for Wan’Dale Robinson. Robinson is a legitimate playmaker who makes things happen, and he’s by far the best gadget player in this class. He transferred this past season from Nebraska to the Kentucky Wildcats, to play solely as a wide receiver as opposed to the WR/RB role he previously was utilized as during his time in Nebraska. Personally, I think Robinson is slept on way too much and is the most underrated Wide Receiver in the class.
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 178 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.44s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 34.5″
Broad Jump: 118″
Bench Press: DNP
Out of high school, Robinson was a four-star recruit and ranked in the top 250 players in the Nation. In high school, he established himself as a versatile RB/WR during his time at Western Hills in Frankfurt, Kentucky. He produced an impressive stat sheet along the way, recording over 8,500 yards and 130 touchdowns in his four-year career.
Robinson had 13 offers leaving high school and opted for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, largely since he would play a big part of their offense immediately. In his freshman season, this proved to be a wise choice. He was involved heavily in their ground game as he rushed 88 times producing 340 yards at 3.9 yards per carry and tapped into the end zone three times. He showcased his versatility as he also hauled in 40 receptions for 453 yards and two touchdowns, the most by any true freshman in Nebraska program history. This led to him being named Freshman All-American by The Athletic.
Picking up where he left off, Robinson upped his productivity in his sophomore year in a shortened COVID season, producing almost as many yards from scrimmage and in two fewer outings. Once again, he was used in the ground and the air game for Nebraska. In the air, he had more receptions than the previous year as he hauled in 51 receptions for 461 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he rushed 46 times for 240 yards and a touchdown. An improved year had seen Robinson receive an honorable mention in the All-Big Ten by Conference coaching staff. He was also nominated for the Paul Hornung Award, awarded to the most versatile player in College Football – missing out to Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
In the past season the Kentucky Native, Robinson decided to move back home as he joined the Kentucky Wildcats, as he was promised the wide receiver role. He joined after a shake-up by the Wildcats as they also bought in Penn State QB Will Levis and a new Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen, formerly an assistant of the LA Rams.
Robinson impressed in his sole season with the Wildcats as he was heavily involved through the air, hauling 104 receptions – more than his previous two years combined, for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns. He didn’t see much action at all in the ground game however when he did he was effective as he rushed seven times for 111 yards (15.9 yards per carry). A successful season which led Kentucky to the Citrus Bowl, beating the Iowa Hawkeyes – In that game, Robinson caught ten passes for 170 yards and was voted the Citrus Bowl MVP. He was also honored in the Second Team All-SEC and was awarded All-SEC First Team honors via PFF.
You don’t have to look far to see the best part of Robinson’s game, his versatility is exceptional. When you look at him you instantly think of players such as Rondale Moore and Kadarius Toney especially throughout his Nebraska days when he was utilized as a swiss army knife style of player. He has excellent athleticism and his elite explosiveness allows him to excel in the air and on the ground.
It’s easy to think of Robinson as a multi-purpose piece that is a jack of all trades master of none, and if you do then you’d be wrong. He has excellent hands, this is arguably his best trait as a receiver, he can haul in some of the most difficult catches. And going downfield he plays with genuine toughness and isn’t afraid of getting hit at the catch point, admittedly he may not come out with the ball every time but he’s more than willing to take the contact.
He may not be a master technician as a route runner but he has all of the skills to be an insanely good slot receiver as he has great balance, quickness, and vision – often you will see him leave linebackers and defensive backs in his shadows. His speed and physicality help him gain leverage with ease. Extremely dangerous in the open field and will make the most of any opportunities afforded his way.
I like Robinson’s football intelligence. This past season he made the move to Kentucky and solely focused on the wide receiver position and made it look effortless as he continued to progress into the receiver role. He has put up solid numbers whilst getting adjusted to a new playbook and coaching staff, showing he understands the game and his assignments well, something that NFL play-callers will love.
Whilst Robinson is the best gadget player in this year’s draft, this is a large part of the negative elements of his game. He’s only spent one season as a dedicated wide receiver and compared to other draft talents he’s still got a lot to learn. He will need to improve his route running even more than he already has done to become effective on the big stage.
His frame would worry me a little, he may be strong and have great speed but his 5’11 and 185 lbs frame will have the bigger defenders in the NFL licking their lips when matching up against Robinson. He also has shorter arms which reduces his catch radius and makes it easier for opposing defenders in contested catches. His size will limit his playability as well, limiting him to a slot-only role as he’s not big enough to play on the outside.
Personally, I would love to see Robinson play that RB/WR role again. I respect him for moving to Kentucky to focus on becoming a receiver however, I enjoyed watching him more in the gadget role. Over the past season, we’ve seen a good level of success from players such as Deebo Samuel and Cordarelle Patterson deployed as gadget players, the latest NFL trend.
He will need to improve his route tree but whilst this is in the ‘negative’ section this could just as easily be in the ‘positives’ as coaches can get this out of him and unearth a real diamond in the rough – this is what I like so much about Robinson, if he lands on the right team he could easily be the steal of the draft and become a superstar in the NFL. I remain wary though having seen what happened to Kadarius Toney in his debut season for the Giants – I mean, just unleash the guy!
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 3
Teams will be hesitant to take Robinson early on due to his inexperience as a dedicated wide receiver and this is why he won’t be viewed as a first or second-round target. Rest assured though this is a player who could prove to be the steal of the 2022 NFL Draft.
A team I’d personally like to see him land in is in Kansas City. They are a team that will be looking to add to their receiving core and a potential future superstar to take over from Tyreek Hill further down the line as their main man. Robinson and Mahomes could form a great relationship to complement each other, plus Robinson and Hill would instantly become one of the most exciting receiver tandems in the league.
Another team we could see taking him off the board is the Buffalo Bills. They currently have Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders who are about to run their course, and someone like Robinson would freshen up their offense. We’ve seen the Bills use Isaiah McKenzie in the RB/WR role, Robinson would be an instant upgrade in this role for them.
Post Draft Analysis
New York Giants- Round 2, Pick 43
This remains one of the stranger selections of the NFL Draft. The Giants have added Wan’Dale Robinson alongside an almost identical player in Kadarius Toney, who suffered from injuries in his rookie campaign. But when he was fit the Giants failed to deploy him to suit his skills. I know the Giants now have a new coaching staff but let’s be real, Dan Jones isn’t their guy moving forward. And the Giants declining to take his fifth-year option suggests they are ready to move on.
The Giants’ wide receiver depth chart is a mess right now as they have the likes of Kenny Golladay, Toney, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepherd in an underwhelming wide receiver room. Unfortunately, I don’t see any fantasy impact from Robinson at all in a crowded wide receiver room with a below-average signal-caller.