With the 2013 NFL Draft come and gone, and NFL Free Agency an almost distant memory, the 2013 Washington Redskins roster is starting to take shape. In two weeks, on May 20th, the Redskins will bring 90 players to the field for the beginning of OTAs. While there are reasons to be excited for the new players coming in, lets not forget our current Washington Redskins are fresh off a division title. With each year comes change lets take a look at a player currently on the roster whose role could expand in 2013. Enter: ILB Keenan Robinson
ILB Keenan Robinson - 2012 Stats
6'3", Weight: 242 Lbs
Tackles: 11 (9 solo, 2 assisted)
Forced Fumbles: 0
Fumble Recoveries: 0
Robinson was drafted in the 4th round, 119th overall, in the 2012 NFL Draft. An excellent athlete for the position, Robinson was brought in because of his ability to immediately help out against the pass and his potential to improve against the run. A former wide receiver in high school, Robinson converted to linebacker after committing to Texas and played in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense. The Redskins drafted him with the idea of grooming him behind Perry Riley and London Fletcher while he contributed on special teams. His speed, agility, and long arms made him an ideal candidate to help out in nickel packages. He didn't see the field much at the beginning of the season but as the season progressed, he saw more and more snaps in obvious passing situations while Fletcher would catch a breather on the sideline. Any time you are asked to play snaps for a future Hall-of-Famer who has played 240 consecutive games, (and doesn't like to take plays off) it's considered a positive development. Unfortunately, his season ended far too soon, as a torn right pectoral muscle on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys (UGH!) landed him on injured reserve.
This year, Keenan Robinson has a golden opportunity to not only leave off where he started, but to make an even bigger impact. First and foremost, Robinson will have to play a key role on special teams. With Lorenzo Alexander heading to the Cardinals via free agency, and both Niles Paul and Reed Doughty looking at more competition at their primary positions, Keenan will need to pick up some of the slack. The last time the Redskins picked a linebacker in the 4th round was in 2010, and Perry Riley became a starter in the middle of his 2nd year. While Robinson won't be a starter by the middle of this year (unless injuries strike), he will be able to improve on the 69 defensive snaps he played last year. With his man-to-man coverage ability and his sideline-to-sideline speed, he may prove to be a better option than Perry Riley or London Fletcher on passing downs. In addition, he has shown the versatility to play at both ILB and OLB in a 3-4. With Brian Orakpo and rookie Brandon Jenkins coming off injuries, (Orakpo = relatively the same injury as Robinson but twice. Jenkins = Linsfranc fracture in left foot), Rob Jackson being suspended for the first 4 games, and Darryl Tapp transitioning to a 3-4 (B. Jenkins as well), Robinson could also see some snaps on the outside.
The biggest knocks on Robinson coming out of Texas were his questionable instincts and his lack of physicality. His instincts could very well be improved from spending a year in the NFL along with sharing a film room with London Fletcher. His physicality can only be improved by his motivation. He has the frame to add more muscle and needs to mentally prepare himself to charge at the point of attack this year instead of letting plays come to him. When the season starts, Keenan Robinson could be asked to contribute significantly in three different areas: ILB, OLB, and special teams. With London Fletcher, Perry Riley, and to much lesser extents, Brian Orakpo and Rob Jackson, in the last year of their contracts, it would be wise to get Keenan Robinson as many reps as they can to groom him as a starter at ILB in 2014.
Fun video of Keenan Robinson sacking Robert Griffin III (via HipHopHazard)