2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Wan’Dale Robinson (Fantasy Football)

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One of the best parts of dynasty fantasy football is trying to hit on a later round rookie gem and having him turn into a contributor for your fantasy roster. Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson is a name to keep in mind if you’re looking for players who might have an opportunity to provide value at low opportunity cost. There’s some red flags in Robinson’s profile, but his tape shows glimpses of an explosive playmaker. Let’s take a deep dive into Wan’Dale’s college production profile, his Combine measurables and then break down what’s on film before laying out how Robinson might translate to the NFL for our fantasy rosters.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.

College Production

Year School Receptions Receiving Yards Yards Per Catch TD Rush Att Rushing Yards TDs
2019 Nebraska 40 453 11.3 2 88 340 3
2020 Nebraska 51 461 9.0 1 46 240 1
2021 Kentucky 104 1,334 12.8 7 7 111 0

During his senior year of high school, Robinson totaled 2,698 scrimmage yards and 41 TDs, helping him earn Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky. As a 4-star recruit, Robinson received scholarship offers from big-time schools like Alabama and Ohio State. He originally committed to Kentucky before changing his mind and attending Nebraska in 2019 and 2020 before transferring to Kentucky in 2021.

Early in his career at Nebraska, Robinson was used as a jack of all trades type of player, helping to produce both as a receiver and as a running back. In 2019, the CornHuskers dealt with injuries to the backs ahead of Robinson on their depth chart, forcing Robinson to play a hybrid slot WR/RB role during his first year on campus. To put this in perspective, per PFF, Robinson played 50.4% of his snaps in the backfield and 41% of his snaps in the slot in 2019. After another season of being used as a hybrid player, Robinson decided to enter the transfer portal after the 2020 season to return to his hometown school and player for the Kentucky Wildcats.

While at Kentucky, Robinson transformed into more of a traditional WR with his new role under a new offensive scheme and new coaching staff. He posted over 1,300 receiving yards and 7 receiving TD during his final collegiate season. Robinson’s 104 receptions were good for the 7th most receptions in the country, and his 1,334 receiving yards a year ago were the 11th most in the FBS. He also set the Kentucky school record for single-season receiving yards in 2021.

On the surface, it’s difficult to evaluate Robinson’s profile given that he was used in two completely different ways at his two schools. Early in his career, he was used as a hybrid WR/RB while at Kentucky, he was used as a traditional slot WR and thrived. With prospects like this, I like to compare their final season to that of the other top WR prospects in this class to see where they stack up. Per PFF, Robinson ranked 5th in receiving grade among 251 WRs with 50+ targets last season. The 2022 NFL Draft prospects ahead of him on the list? Drake London, Skyy Moore, and Treylon Burks. In that same group of 250+ WRs with 50+ targets, Robinson’s 3.56 yards per route run was the 4th best in the country.

Robinson’s production during his final season looks very good on paper, especially when you consider he was playing his first season as a true WR while playing against SEC competition. His 2021 season helped him earn a 45% share of Kentucky’s receiving yards per game and a 37% dominator rating. Among all 2022 prospects in the Dynasty Pass Production Profiles, Robinson ranks 3rd in share of team receiving yards while his dominator rating ranks 7th in the class. From an analytics perspective looking solely at his production profile, Robinson certainly checks the box.

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Measurables

Height Weight 40-Yard Dash Vertical Broad Jump
5’8″ 178 lbs. 4.44 seconds 34.5″ 9’10”

So the production profile looks good, but how about the measurables? This, my friends, is where things get shaky for Robinson’s NFL outlook. He did run a solid 4.44 40-yard dash (76th percentile), but when you adjust for his smaller frame, his speed score drops to a 24th percentile score. To put this in perspective, it’s oftentimes more helpful if we used speed score to compare prospect to prospect as this helps to factor in height and weight. In other words, the smaller guys (James Cook, Wan’Dale Robinson, etc.) should run faster than the bigger guys. Using size-adjusted 40 times helps to put context around a player’s athleticism. For reference, Breece Hall ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at 217 lbs., good for a 98th percentile speed score. While the 4.44 40-time looks good on the surface, it’s not actually all that impressive when you factor in Robinson’s height at 5’8″ and weight at just 178 lbs.

Speaking of his frame, this is where the warning signs should be going off in your head. According to Marcus Mosher on Twitter, Robinson’s height puts him on a list of some very uninspiring names. The image below (which is from Marcus’ Twitter post) lists every WR to measure at 5’8″ or smaller at the NFL Combine since 2000. If you take 10 seconds to read all the names on this list, it definitely makes you wonder if Robinson does have any potential to become a consistent contributor at the next level.

To add to the concerns about Robinson’s build, Jared Smola, who works with Draft Sharks, looked at WRs with similar builds and how they produced for fantasy football. According to him, there have only been 22 seasons of 150+ PPR points from a WR 5’9 or shorter and 185 pounds or lighter since 2000. Among those 22 seasons, there have only been four WRs to turn in multiple seasons of 150+ PPR points. Those names? Wes Welker, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder, and Marquise Brown.

What’s on Tape

Games viewed: Florida (2021), Missouri (2021), LSU (2021), Vanderbilt (2021), Iowa (2021)

1. Robinson is a dangerous playmaker in the open field.

You simply don’t post over 1,300 yards in a collegiate season without the ability to contribute with yards after the catch. Robinson has enough speed and lateral agility to make defenders miss in the open field, which helped him put some big plays on tape. In this screenplay against Florida, Robinson’s vision, elusiveness, and burst are on display to make defenders miss and get upfield to eventually find the end zone. Recall, Robinson played RB a lot during his first two collegiate seasons. He seems to know how to setup blockers.

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2. Despite his size, Robinson isn’t afraid to take a hit over the middle of the field.

While Robinson’s smaller frame suggests he’s more of a gadget open field type of player (and there’s plenty of this on tape), I also saw several plays where Robinson is running a crossing route or a slant and takes a big hit from a waiting safety or linebacker. Despite his small frame, Robinson showed toughness and an ability to take a hit in the open field.

3. Robinson has a quick release off the line of scrimmage and burst to get down the field quickly.

In this clip against Missouri, Robinson shows a nice release off the line and beats his defender down the field thanks to his quickness and speed. His QB under throws the ball a bit, and Robinson does a great job of adjusting to the ball in the air to make the play.

What’s Not on Tape

1. Catch Radius

In the five games I watched, Robinson didn’t show much of a catch radius. It makes sense given his smaller frame, but to put it simply, if the ball wasn’t closer to his body, he wasn’t making the catch.

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2. The ability to get through press coverage and win against physical corners.

Robinson showed toughness on tape, but his size limitations are real, especially when playing against longer and more physical corners. In the clip above, Robinson beats his corner thanks to quickness and a couple of yards of space. However, in matchups with a longer corner who gets up in his space at the line, there were multiple reps where the corner won, and Robinson struggled to get off the line to create separation. At the NFL level, it’s fair to wonder if that could be a struggle for Wan’Dale.

2022 Fantasy Outlook

Robinson is a difficult prospect to evaluate, because if you only look at his production, you might think we have a solid prospect coming in who can be used in a variety of ways as a slot WR, perimeter WR, or even as a hybrid pass-catching RB. The tape is fun, and Robinson looks electric with the ball in his hands. However, when you consider the smaller frame and the lack of high upside associated with historical data for players of similar builds, it really does make you stop and question the ceiling for a player like Wan’Dale in fantasy. If Robinson hits for our dynasty rosters, he’ll certainly be an outlier, and betting on being able to find outliers is never easy to do.

According to GrindingTheMocks.com, Robinson has an expected draft position of about 84 as of late March. Assuming this holds, Robinson is likely to come off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft in the back of the 3rd Round. This would give him decent NFL Draft capital to support his production profile, but there would still be massive concerns regarding his size and role at the NFL level. If Robinson should fall to the 4th Round of the Draft or even later, that should definitely raise some red flags for us as fantasy players because we know NFL Draft capital is strongly correlated with success at the next level.

All in all, Robinson is an exciting name for the middle to later rounds of dynasty rookie drafts given his college production and tape. However, we know the hit rate for smaller guys in the NFL who play the WR position is quite low, so we should certainly keep our expectations in check. The bottom line is that if Robinson hits in a meaningful way for fantasy purposes, he’ll be an outlier, making him a low-floor prospect in rookie drafts.

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