The Steelers have been looking all around the NFL and in the NFL Draft class to see if they could find their answer at slot receiver after trading Chase Claypool midseason, and with the trade for Allen Robinson, they might have just found the right player for the job.
First off, let’s just take a baseline look at where Robinson could fit in the offense. In 2022, he played in the slot about a third of the time, playing outside 66% of the time. Throughout his career, those splits are even more exaggerated with him playing only 29% outside according to Pro Football Focus.
The thing about Robinson is he has seemingly lost a step in his game. So, the slot has allowed him to lean into his physicality and route savvy. His routes flash consistently on tape, but especially in short areas near the redzone. According to 538, his open rating was 65, which was tied for 28th in the NFL. Meanwhile, his strong hands and size make him a size mismatch that must be contended with throughout the game. His catch rating last year signaled in at 59, or 38th overall, but he only has a 5% drop rate throughout his entire career.
However, why would the team really want him in the slot? Of all receivers with 150 blocking snaps, he ranked 9th in the NFL with a 68.9 PPF run-blocking rating. The uptick in his play in the slot plus his proficiency as a blocker are key. The Steelers will love Allen Robinson and his versatility as a result. Last year, they were asking Gunner Olszewski to do lead crack blocks out of the slot after the Chase Claypool trade. Robinson will be the guy who has the ability to be a strong blocker. The team has lacked that consistency since JuJu Smith-Schuster left the team to head to the Kansas City Chiefs.
So, how does Robinson fit into the team? He will be the primary slot receiver, but he has the versatility to play on the outside. Pittsburgh has lacked that quality depth to really hone in on their passing game. Robinson is not what he once was as a downfield threat, so don’t expect him to be that. He also had a 25 YAC rating on 538, the 3rd worst in the NFL
The point? Robinson can still fit into the NFL offense and as a versatile piece that plays in multiple alignments. In the NFL and the Steelers’ offense, WR blocking is at a paramount level because of the condensed sets that the Steelers and other teams run out of now. At this point, Robinson should be the main slot option that can come and play outside in a pinch. That should also take them out of the primary wide receiver sweepstakes.