PITTSBURGH — When Allen Robinson landed in Los Angeles, it was thought that he could bolster the receiving corps amongst Cooper Kupp, but after a stress fracture in his foot along with suboptimal play throughout his 10 games played, the impact never quite fit.
In his career, Robinson has shown out on bad teams and fit in as the top receiver on good teams. However, the more he plays, the more he feels that fitting in a given offense is simply huge to success. The marriage with the Rams ended up just not being the right fit for either side, and Robinson felt like he was often out of position.
“I’m learning a lot about fit. I think that actually Patrick Beverley said it best. If you’re a fork, you don’t want to be used as a spoon the majority at a time,” Robinson said. “I think that makes it just tough on everybody. But again, I’m very grateful for the opportunity that I had going to L.A., being able to play with Cooper Kupp and some of those guys. I learned a lot from their system, from Cooper. I learned a lot about myself as well. I learned a lot when it came to different routes and conceptualizing different things. So, I mean, those guys have a great staff and have a great team. I took a lot from that experience.”
So, what is the Allen Robinson experience supposed to look like as a 29-year-old who is a mentor in the locker room? Well, first, that mentorship for young receivers and even the young quarterback is key. So, Robinson fills that void. However, a tick-up in slot usage and heavy usage on third downs and in the red zone seems to be where Robinson can slot himself in the best. He only played in the slot 33 percent in 2022, but in preliminary conversations with the Steelers, it should be expected that the number will climb in 2023.
“I didn’t get maybe some opportunities that I may have wanted and things like that,’ Robinson said. “But as far as how I feel as a football player from my route-running ability, being able to get active a little bit in the red zone and doing some things like that on third down, I felt very good about last year.”
One of the things that Robinson was able to fully learn last year was the blocking side of playing receiver. The Rams love to involve their wide receivers as key pieces in their run scheme. So, when the Steelers were looking for a bigger receiver who could be a physical blocker, Robinson checks all the boxes on that front. Sean McVay and the Rams led Robinson to what he believes was his best season as a blocker in the NFL.
“O actually feel like last season I probably had the best blocking year of my career,” Robinson said. “That’s, like I said before, from the kind of run scheme that the Rams would use. They use the receivers a lot in the run game. Being able to understand defenses, being able to see different looks and kind of be activated in the run game constantly, I think that really challenged me as a receiver to kind of take on more blocking responsibilities than I had in the past, which I accepted that challenge and I appreciated it. I think that was one of the ways that I improved my game last year as well, being able to get in there and make a lot of big blocks for us.”
Expect Robinson to be the third option for the Steelers in the offense and be a primary possession receiver. If you want a Pittsburgh stylistic comparison, Jericho Cotchery makes the most sense as a guy who can cash-in near the red zone and make plays on third down.