Monday, June 11, 2018

Vikings UDFA WR Korey Robertson could compete for a roster spot

Photo: FantasyLabs

The Vikings will have a competition in the bottom portion of the wide receiver depth chart. Daniel House thinks Korey Robertson is an undrafted rookie who could earn a roster spot. 

Updated: June 11, 2018, 12:50 p.m.

By: Daniel House

The Vikings will be searching for competition in the wide receiver room. Outside of the top three players, the remaining three or four spots are up for grabs. Laquon Treadwell will need to take a step forward in his third season to claim the fourth spot behind Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and free-agent signing Kendall Wright. The team also added Giants veteran receiver Tavarres King, who grabbed three touchdowns last season. After those names, there is very little experience competing for a place on the roster.

Second-year receiver Stacy Coley is the only other player who spent time on the roster and he’s been battling an injury during most of the offseason activities. Cayleb Jones had a strong 2017 preseason, but was suspended four games for PED use. This leaves CFL standout Brandon Zylstra and a few undrafted rookies battling for multiple spots on the depth chart.

The first receiver you should become familiar with before training camp is former Southern Mississippi undrafted free agent Korey Robertson. The Vikings gave Robertson a relatively lucrative signing bonus and were clearly interested in signing him when he was available.

Last year, he posted 1,106 yards and 12 touchdowns, nearly doubling his overall production output. Robertson fell down draft boards because of his athletic testing and concerns about whether he was nuanced enough to get open at the next level. It’s certainly a valid concern when you see how many times he is forced to win contested catch battles because defensive backs are playing tight to him. However, I do think he plays faster than he tests and can improve his ability to gain separation if he grows from a route running standpoint. You see this when you watch his games and evaluate how he creates after the catch. He has excellent vision and can accelerate in and out of cuts to break free for long gains. The clip below shows he can make plays with the ball in his hands.

I worry about how he will handle more physical press corners at the next level. He doesn’t display an excellent burst when he gets to the top of his routes and will sometimes allow the defensive back to get position because of it. This leads to contested catch battles he often wins due his overall play strength and ball skills. The clip below shows his ability to high-point the football and maintain his balance, while finishing the grab.

He’ll need to show he has enough burst to get space against press coverage. There’s no question Robertson has the strength, but it’s all about whether he can get separation and sink his hips when coverage is tight at the break of his route.

When he doesn't win, it usually leads to risky 50/50 jump balls like the play below.

If he can start to run routes better, his ability to win physical battles and produce big plays after the catch are intriguing. He shows flashes of what he can do, especially when he is used in space and vertically. His blend of strength and the playmaking ability after the catch make him really unique.

Another area Robertson could improve is his consistency as a pass catcher. There were a few instances where he was open and unable to make the grab. A few were the result of higher passes, but they were still catchable. Other drops were due to simple concentration lapses. Robertson will certainly need to improve his 6.9% drop rate at the next level.

It was very surprising to see Robertson’s workout testing numbers, especially when you watch his tape. He has speed and was consistently used in tunnel, bubble and crossing looks because he is so dynamic with the ball in his hands. The example below was how Southern Mississippi used Robertson frequently. Tunnel screens were something he excelled at throughout his career.

Robertson's overall field vision allows him to find lanes and cutbacks to help sustain big plays. He also broke a high volume of tackles and didn’t shy away from contact. The clip below shows how he can create across the middle and produce additional yardage.

When he runs slants across the middle, he is willing to take a big hit from a safety who is barreling down. If he uses a slant, post or dig, he is more than willing to take a hit to secure the football. He plays with physicality and it shows in the clip below:

Not only that, but he can be used in the red zone because of his ability to get jump balls. At 6-foot-1, Robertson has a 34-inch vertical and was often used in situations where the team tossed a touch fade to him in the front or back corner of the end zone. In those situations, he showed off his body control and hands to win with defensive backs in excellent position.

The Vikings might use him in the short and intermediate game, but he also is a red zone option. In those situations, Robertson can run routes outside or in the slot to create mismatches. The ability to be a physical catch point wide receiver and create in space leave the coaches with plenty of options to utilize Robertson. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo values receivers with position versatility to create favorable matchups based upon the player’s skill-set and defensive tendencies.

Overall, this feels like an instance where it’s important to value tape production, along with the testing. Despite workout numbers that worried many talent evaluators, Robertson is a player worth taking a chance on because of all the traits he possesses as a receiver. If he can become polished technically and use the play strength, ball skills and overall ability after the catch, the Vikings might have found themselves another receiver to develop.

Robertson will have a chance to show what he can do, especially with a few spots potentially up for grabs in the wide receiver room. If he performs well in training camp and the preseason, he might do enough to slide onto the roster or practice squad.

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