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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Scouts' Take: OT Robinson is a huge get

By Craig Haubert

Five-star prospect Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) selected Alabama over LSU on Wednesday live on ESPNU's "College Football Daily." Our scouts feel he could be the next great offensive tackle to suit up for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Read below to see how the Under Armour All-American is expected to fit into Saban's plans:

What he brings: The No. 1-rated offensive tackle and the No. 3 player overall in the nation, Robinson brings a wealth of ability to Tuscaloosa. He has prototypical left tackle measurables and possesses some physical upside, as time in Alabama’s weight program could help to transform his build some and better maximize the size he has. Athletic for his size, the five-star can be a strong pass-blocker capable of protecting the quarterback’s blind side. He possesses good quickness and balance in his pass set and can kick back and make it very tough for rushers to try to beat him with speed. He also possesses a good reach and can deliver a powerful punch that can jolt rushers, and he flashes the ability to quickly lock on. The big man is also nimble-footed and can handle quick changes in direction well. He can be a tough run-blocker with the ability to come off the ball and gain leverage, the ability to roll his hips, the size to engulf defenders and the lower-body strength to drive them off the ball. He’s also tenacious and looks to stay with and finish blocks. Robinson has room for improvement, as he can be inconsistent with his pad level at times and can get a little sloppy with technique, but the size and natural tools are there for him to excel with further development.

How he fits: This prospect has the tools to develop into an outstanding left tackle and should not only fit very well in the trenches for Alabama but also could quickly fit in. With very good size and a tenacious attitude, he can be a strong run-blocker who helps aid the Crimson Tide’s ground attack. In pass protection, he exhibits the tools to compete with the best pass-rushers the SEC has to offer and keep his QB clean.

Reminds us of: In the past 10 years, Alabama has signed two of the top tackle prospects over that period in Andre Smith and Cyrus Kouandjio. With the commitment of Robinson, they have a third player in the mix who is among the very best tackle prospects to come out in the ESPN 150/300 era. Smith might still be the best we have seen, as he was incredibly light on his feet for his size and as tenacious a blocker as we have seen. Kouandjio was also very athletic and nasty as well and presented exciting upside coming out. In Robinson they have a player similar to both, though with more ideal size for the position than Smith possessed and arguably a little further along than Kouandjio was at the same stage. The previous No. 1 overall offensive tackles Alabama signed didn’t disappoint, and now Robinson gives them a third in the past 10 years who can be as good as there is in the college game.

Prediction for performance: Robinson is a very talented prospect who, with hard work and proper focus, can develop into one of the premier tackles in college football. He could quickly contribute for Alabama. It’s certainly not unheard of, but offensive line is one of the tougher positions for a prospect to transition from the high school level to college and play right away. There is a need to often get bigger and stronger, and continuity and experience working together as a unit are also key. Robinson, though exhibits the ability to be one of the rarer "plug-and-play"-type players along the OL, and there could be a need for him to do so. Alabama’s starting left tackle, Kouandjio, is only a junior but will likely have an opportunity to leave after this season as a first-round NFL draft pick. If does leave, Robinson can present the ideal player to pass the torch to. Whether it’s right away or in limited initial action or even after a redshirt, Robinson is a player who, with attention to the little things, has the talent to be an All-American and future 1st round NFL pick as well.

How the class is shaping up: Having signed the top-rated class in both 2012 and 2013, Alabama, currently in possession of the top spot in the 2014 class rankings, is building a strong case to do it three years in a row. Coming off the heels of landing a commitment from ESPN 300 wide receiver Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish), the addition of his friend and former high school teammate Robinson now strengthens what was an already a deep and talented class. Robinson is the Crimson Tide's first five-star commit for 2014, but his commitment now gives Alabama verbals from three different players who rank first at their respective position and a pair who ranked second. Three of those five top-two positional prospects are offensive linemen, as top OT Robinson joins top-rated guard Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls) and No. 2-ranked center J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge)  in what is shaping up to be an excellent OL class for Alabama.