Did the Falcons give up too soon on Robinson?

When the Atlanta Falcons selected receiver Laurent Robinson out of Illinois State in the third round of the 2007 draft, they envisioned the 6’2, 194-pound receiver becoming either a solid No. 2, or possibly even a No. 1 if Roddy White (who struggled in his first two years) failed to develop.

But after caching 37 passes for 437 yards and a touchdown his rookie year, knee and hamstring injuries limited Robinson to just five receptions in six games last season. With the emergence of second-year receiver Harry Douglas, Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff traded Robinson to the Rams this past April. In exchange, the Falcons and Rams swapped fifth and sixth round picks in the ’09 draft.

It’s hard to criticize anything Dimitroff has done in his first two offseasons in Atlanta. After all, he hired a solid head coach in Mike Smith, signed free agent Michael Turner, drafted franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, and traded for future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. It’s no wonder why Dimitroff was named the 2008 NFL Executive of the Year.

But a couple of years down the road (or possibly much, much sooner), I have a feeling that Dimitroff will look back on the Robinson deal as one of his bigger goof ups. And I don’t say that only because Douglas suffered a season-ending injury in camp this year and Atlanta is in a bit of a bind at slot receiver; I say it because Robinson could emerge as a quality playmaker very soon.

In two preseason games, Robinson has caught seven passes for 117 yards and has vastly outplayed Keenan Burton for the No. 2 receiver position in St. Louis’ offense. With his play thus far, Robinson is earning a starting job opposite Donnie Avery, as soon as Avery comes back from the stress fracture injury he suffered a couple weeks ago.

Some folks are probably reading this and thinking to themselves, “Wow Stalter, the guy has caught seven passes for 117 yards in two preseason games and you’re ready to compare him to Jerry Rice.”

I realize that Robinson has a long way to go to prove himself, but call it a hunch that he’s going to develop into something more than just a slot or No. 2 reciever. In the Rams’ second preseason game last Saturday against (ironically) the Falcons, Robinson was better than the stat sheet would indicate. He created separation from the defensive backs, caught everything that was thrown his direction, used his body well in traffic and on balls he had to jump for, he caught them at their highest point. In other words, he flashed all the skills necessary to become a quality receiver in the NFL.

I hate to criticize Dimitroff, even in the slightest. But chances are that he got robbed in the deal for Robinson, because the third-year wideout will probably be worth more than what Dimitroff got in return.

Traditionally, the WR2 in the St. Louis offense has been pretty productive. But Mike Martz is long gone, so how will Robinson fare if he is indeed the starter? Marc Bulger is still semi-capable when healthy, and with Steven Jackson in the backfield and Donnie Avery on the other side, defenses will not be able to focus on stopping Robinson. The Rams are likely to be playing catch up about 90% of the time, so I fully expect Robinson will rack up receptions and yards late in games. I wouldn’t expect too many scores, however, so he’ll hold more value in PPR leagues than in standard or TD-heavy formats. Considering what the Falcons got in return, Robinson’s 2009 campaign should make them regret their decision to trade him away.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>