A week before the NFL Draft, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone needed one last up-close look at Cam Robinson to become convinced he was as good as their scouts had rated him.
Marrone had watched hours of videotape highlighting Robinson’s exceptional run-blocking and pass protection skills as Alabama’s starting left offensive tackle for the past three seasons.
Still, Marrone needed to see more, so he accompanied Jaguars offensive line coach Pat Flaherty to Tuscaloosa, Ala., who put Robinson through a private workout that included having executive vice president Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell on hand to watch.
It didn’t take much for Robinson to win over Marrone after repeatedly showing ability to move his feet quickly despite his enormous 6-foot-6, 320-pound size.
“Sometimes when you’re watching film, you just want to go get a better look in person without other people around,’’ Marrone said. “I wanted to go and get a good feel for his footwork and how well he can move. I was impressed.’’
Since selecting Robinson as the 34th overall pick in the second round on April 28, the Jaguars have stuck to plans to keep him at left tackle instead of shifting him to left guard, though they acquired 10-year veteran left tackle Branden Albert in a March 9 trade from the Miami Dolphins. During the team’s three-day rookie minicamp last week, Robinson worked exclusively at left tackle.
Albert, though, remains a no-show for the Jaguars’ voluntary off-season program and continues to not return Marrone’s phone calls.
And whether Albert finally reports for the team’s mandatory mini-camp on June 13, Robinson appears unfazed about the expected battle between the two for the starting job. Caldwell and Marrone say the left offensive tackle spot is open for competition and only the best players across the board will play, including only those committed to the franchise.
“I’m extremely comfortable with competition,” Robinson said. “I’m a competitor. When I first got on campus at Alabama, nothing was given to me. It was a spot that I had to go and work for. I’m just looking to earn to everything I get at the next level. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in my ability.
“It’s just a point of getting in and picking up the system as fast as I can, showing improvement to my coaches and my teammates that I’m a reliable guy. Right now, like I mentioned, I’m just trying to get in and prove myself to the coaches and to my teammates, prove that I am able to do that (start), if that’s what’s needed of me. I’m not really putting any expectations on day one or starting or anything like that. I’m just coming in and just working.’’
All things considered, the Jaguars drafted Robinson with the expectations that he will make an immediate impact like running back Leonard Fournette, whom they selected with the fourth overall pick in the first round.
After the Jaguars traded their picks in the second (No. 35) and sixth (No. 187) rounds to Seattle to move up one spot to select Robinson, Caldwell said they had to make sure they had their bases covered at left tackle.
”We feel the guy can be the eventual starting tackle for us, considering the grades we had on him,” Caldwell said. “Anytime you have competition that a good thing I think we will leave him at tackle for the time being; never say never. He’s got the skill set to move inside.”
Robinson is battle tested from going up a number of top-caliber defensive ends in the SEC, which included last season’s matchup against Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, who was the No.1 overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
At rookie minicamp, Marrone heap praise again on Robinson’s footwork and ability to retain knowledge of the playbook and translate it on the field.
“I do like the things that he did, I think he responded well,” Marrone said. “I thought he moved really well, especially for a big man. A lot of times when you have the big guys, it’s a little bit more when you’re evaluating them, you’re watching their movement skills. The bigger the player, the more physical the player is, those things will show up more when you put the pads on than when you have a smaller quicker guy and you’re like—or you’re like Dede [Westbrook] and you can see when someone runs, but it’s hard to see how someone can take on someone and move them or move a pile in this type of phase we’re in in our minicamp.”