The New York Giants met with Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson on three separate occasions before taking him in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL draft. While most analysts had Robinson projected as a 4th-round pick, new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll believed taking him in the 2nd was justifiable.
If you look at the type of players that new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and Daboll have used in the past with their respective teams, Robinson fits the mold perfectly. Having a shifty, quick receiver that has similarities to Tyreek Hill and Cole Beasley makes a lot of sense heading into the 2022 season. Robinson is far from a Hill or Beasley replica, but he has the opportunity to create an identity of his own after dominating at Kentucky in the SEC last season.
Over 13 games, Robinson tallied 104 receptions for 1,334 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He also contributed 111 rushing yards to boot.
For a smaller guy at 5’8″ and 185 pounds, Robinson has elite change of direction capabilities and is an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands.
“Versatile, got quickness, explosiveness–he’s tough, even for a smaller guy. Been a very productive player really going back to high school when he played there in Kentucky,” said head coach Brian Daboll.
The Giants now have three players, including Robinson, Kadarius Toney, and Saquon Barkley who can take the football to the house at any given moment. Ultimately, if you give each of those three players enough reps, one of them will create electrifying production.
In addition, given slot receiver Sterling Shepard is expected to miss the beginning of the season and Toney has faced injury problems early in his career, having a player like Robinson who can supplement potential losses is extremely valuable.
Daboll has already indicated how excited they are to get their hands on Robinson and begin to develop a scheme that extrapolates on his skill set.
“A guy we’re anxious to get our hands-on and work with and implement into our scheme.”
Wan’Dale always believed he was capable of being drafted in the 2nd round but clearly didn’t expect to be taken so early.
“I always felt like I was talented enough to be picked this early,” Robinson said. “I just felt like somebody just had to believe in me and not believe in the hype thing and just believe in the football player.”
Many have criticized the selection, but it is entirely possible the Giants had inside knowledge that either the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs were targeting him as a potential replacement or addition to their already potent offenses.
Given Buffalo stole Georgia running back James Cook off the board, adding an electrifying playmaker seemed to be a priority for them. The Giants likely didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity, trading back a number of times to add more selections in the mid-rounds, while also guaranteeing they would land a perfect scheme fit on offense.
The Giants desperately needed to increase their creativity before the snap, especially after recording a 7.5% pre-snap motion rate in 2021. Some of the best teams in the NFL utilize pre-snap motion far more often, including the San Francisco 49ers at 83.7%, Baltimore Ravens at 54.1%, and Los Angeles Rams at 49.1%.
The Giants barely got their players moving along the line of scrimmage, which made their offensive schematics more predictable, resulting in one of the worst units in football. Robinson will help tremendously in forcing cornerbacks to move and shifting the defensive alignment to keep them off balance. Pre-snap motion is also a great way to determine if a team is playing man or zone coverage, which gives the quarterback more knowledge prior to the snap.
In addition to the change in offensive schematics, Robinson also offers Jones easy production in the short portion of the field. The Kentucky standout receiver is a dominant screen catcher and can make something out of nothing. He is a quarterback’s best friend, creating yardage and efficiency while taking the risk factor away from the quarterback throwing downfield.
However, that is not to say that Robinson won’t also be targeted in the intermediate and deeper portions of the field, since he has the speed and athleticism to make plays all over. Daboll already indicated that Robinson can play inside and outside, despite being a smaller and shorter receiver.
In conclusion, many have pointed out that the draft board hosted more established players when the Giants selected Robinson, but he’s clearly a productive stud and will bring an electric element to the Giants’ offense. Pairing him with Toney will keep defenses honest and force them to allocate more attention, which should open up more opportunities for everyone.