Jacksonville Jaguars: Expectations for Allen Robinson


The Jacksonville Jaguars have a trio of talented second-year wide receivers in Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and former UDFA Allen Hurns, but Robinson was easily the most impressive of that group last season. Before he went down with a broken foot in November, Robinson was one of the lone bright spots on a Jaguars offense that scored less points per game than any other team in the league with a league-worst 4.8 net yards per pass attempt.

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Raw rookie signal-caller Blake Bortles had intriguing weapons around him, but it’s hard for a rookie QB to rely on up-and-down rookie receivers, a slumping Cecil Shorts, and a thoroughly underwhelming offensive line. Thankfully for Bortles, one of his rookie wideouts wasn’t hurting for consistency, as Robinson, who was viewed as a pretty raw prospect coming into the draft, clearly led all Jaguars receivers with a 58.4% catch rate, per Advanced Football Analytics.

That’s not an impressive number by any means, especially since he averaged a middling 11.4 yards per reception. However, all stats need to be contextualized, especially when it regards a rookie receiver who played with a rookie QB on a struggling team that failed to protect said rookie QB adequately.

The fact that Robinson led the Jaguars in catch rate tells us that he was used as more of a safety valve for this offense. Based on the fact that, per Pro Football Focus, he had just one drop on the 77 passes Bortles threw in his direction, I think it’s fair to say that he was a relatively safe option (in comparison to his peers at the position) for the UCF product.

Since Robinson’s season was cut short by six games, it’s better to look at yards per game and receptions per game as indicators of reliability. While Shorts led the Jaguars with about 8.6 targets per game to Robinson’s 7.7, it was the Penn State rookie who led the squad with 4.8 catches per contest and about 55 yards per game. Larry Fitzgerald had 4.5 receptions per game for 56.0 yards per game and Brandon Marshall had 4.7 receptions per game for 55.5 yards per outing in similarly weak passing attacks.

Why do I bring up two future Hall of Famers who put up mediocre numbers that were the result of poor quarterback play? It’s obviously not to compare Robinson to those guys (that would be stupidly premature), but rather to draw similarities between Robinson’s situations and the situations Fitzgerald and Marshall found themselves in.

Like those two, Robinson is a possession receiver who had to try and do his best to keep a floundering passing attack afloat, though, unlike the aforementioned All-Pro receivers, he didn’t have Alshon Jeffery and Michael Floyd on the other side helping him.

That’s not to say Hurns, who admirably led the team with six TDs and 7.0 yards per target in a very promising rookie campaign, and Lee were inept partners, because those two wideouts might have just as much promise as Robinson. The argument is that Robinson’s seemingly underwhelming 48 receptions for 548 yards and two TDs are actually quite impressive for a rookie who was purportedly raw coming into the league and who had to shoulder a big role in the offense.

Hurns may have been second behind Shorts on the team in targets, but it was Robinson who was actually second in targets per game. With Shorts gone, Robinson could emerge as the team’s No. 1 receiver and No. 2 option behind new tight end Julius Thomas, though the competition for targets will be wide open with Lee and Hurns also presenting strong cases in an offense that will be horizontally-oriented.

Oct 26, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson (15) at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Richard Dole-USA TODAY Sports

Based on his ability to find space despite his lack of long speed, work the intermediate game, win at the catch point, and avoid drops (it’s a small sample size, but, again, he only had one drop last year), I’d say Robinson has the best chance at being the Jacksonville Jaguars No. 1 receiver next year.

Hurns and Lee are both playmakers with equally tantalizing upside, but they aren’t nearly as consistent as Robinson, who has considerably better hands than those two and is better at operating in tight spaces due to his catch radius and athleticism.

I like the core of receivers the Jaguars have in place, but I will be disappointed if Robinson in particular doesn’t build off of his promising-but-not-great rookie season.

This is a guy who has the right combination of upside and reliability (the latter was a pleasant surprise, at least for me) to blossom in the near future, and hopefully he’ll be in a position where Shorts’s 103 targets last season will be Robinson’s target total in 2015.

He’s Bortles’s best shot at moving the chains, and he has some more playmaking ability than his 4.6 forty time would indicate.

Next: Who are the Jaguars biggest draft busts?

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