Allen Robinson Is A First Round Talent
Image via Clint Mickel/Flickr

You know what’s an uncommon opinion?  Allen Robinson is a first round receiver.

You know what’s maybe the most uncommon opinion related to the 2014 NFL Draft?  Allen Robinson is the best receiver prospect in this class.

Two weeks ago on the 2 Mugs Fantasy Football Podcast I shocked many people by naming Robinson my #1 receiver in this class ahead of Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans.  Do I regret saying that?  Absolutely not.  In fact, my latest findings have provided added support for the belief that Allen Robinson will be a damn good NFL receiver.  Here’s why I love his outlook…

The Allen Robinson Comparables

A few months ago I introduced the Phenom Index which is a way to adjust production by age.  To the surprise of everyone, when the 2014 Phenom Index scores were released Allen Robinson was the second highest ranked receiver in the class (hint: Sammy Watkins wasn’t #1).  To understand how exceptional Robinson’s 2013 was, check out his comparables which were generated by filtering by Phenom score, weight and career yards per game.  That’s all it took to generate this list:

WROverallPhenom IndexCAR Yds/GCAR TD/GHtWt40YardVert
Allen RobinsonTBD3.1785.50.59742204.6039.0
Josh Gordon394.4851.50.50752244.5236.0
Dwayne Jarrett453.2882.61.08762194.6236.5
Kenny Britt303.1595.10.53752184.4937.0
Dez Bryant243.0289.81.07742244.5238.0
DeAndre Hopkins272.8177.40.69732144.5736.0
Hakeem Nicks292.7678.90.58732124.5136.0
Demaryius Thomas222.2361.60.3975224
Danario Alexander2702.2363.10.5076215
Devin Thomas342.1675.00.50742154.4028.0
Miles Austin2702.0285.81.03742154.4740.5

Six of Robinson’s closest comparables were first rounders and almost everyone was a top 45 pick.  The two guys that weren’t–Miles Austin and Danario Alexander–have proven extremely useful when healthy.  Overall it’s a pretty impressive cohort with several elite WR1 options.  Any comparable list is bound to include a few busts (Jarrett and Thomas in this case) but that comes with the territory.  For what it’s worth, Dwayne Jarrett’s career was derailed by multiple DUIs in his firs few seasons.  Devin Thomas was a one year wonder at MSU and was noted for his boom-or-bust outlook.  Allen Robinson has two elite seasons under his belt.

To understand the kind of fantasy impact Allen Robinson might have let’s look at his comparables’ early performance.  Note that these are cumulative per-game stats for the first three years of their pro careers.  For Josh Gordon and DeAndre Hopkins I used their career totals since they have less than three seasons.

Josh Gordon11.2
Hakeem Nicks10.6
Dez Bryant10.3
Kenny Britt8.6
Demaryius Thomas8.5
Danario Alexander7.1
DeAndre Hopkins5.6
Devin Thomas1.9
Dwayne Jarrett1.6
Miles Austin1.3

Using the 2013 season as a barometer, Gordon, Nicks and Bryant all provided top 15 receiver value with their peak seasons being even higher.  Kenny Britt (making his second appearance as an Allen Robinson comparable), Demaryius and Danario all fall in the top-25 range.  Note that Miles Austin broke out in year fourth year to the tune of 1300 yards, 11 touchdowns and a top-3 finish.

The Big (Ten) Elephant In The Room

Almost without fail, when I make the case for Allen Robinson people respond with “yea, but…Big Ten receivers in the NFL.”  Ironically, it was this time last year when I argued against Keenan Allen citing the disappearing Pac12 receiver.  Here is how Robinson compares to recent Big Ten receivers who were drafted and weighed more than 210 lbs.  It’s notable that the most recent first rounders from the Big Ten–Holmes, Ginn, Gonzalez, Jenkins– were all under 195 lbs and, therefore, have been omitted from this list.

WRDraftOverallCollegeF AgeDR Phenom INDEXCAR Yds/G
Allen Robinson2014TBDPenn State20.43.1785.5
Devin Thomas200834Michigan State21.12.1675.0
James Hardy200841Indiana22.01.6883.0
Cody Latimer2014TBDIndiana21.21.6363.8
Devier Posey201268Ohio State21.81.5451.4
Eric Decker201087Minnesota22.81.5369.3
Marvin McNutt2012194Iowa22.51.4273.4
B.J. Cunningham2012183Michigan State22.61.2675.3
Arrelious Benn201039Illinois21.31.2260.0
Jason Avant2006109Michigan22.71.1847.8
Nick Toon2012122Wisconsin23.20.9355.6
Junior Hemingway2012238Michigan23.00.8341.0
Paul Hubbard2008191Wisconsin22.60.6744.6

Keeping in mind that 1 is an average score on the Phenom Index, this tells you that Allen Robinson was more than 2X better than his age expectation (3.17 minus 1).  Note that this is WAY better than anyone else on the list.  Similarly, Robinson had the most productive career of this cohort and is by far the youngest.  If you want to argue against Robinson because of his Big Ten roots, you should know that he is unlike any Big Ten receiver prospect of the last decade.

The Allen Robinson watch party starts at pick 25.  Here’s a list of teams picking in the range he’ll be selected.  Personally, I’d love to see Cleveland or Carolina select him.  What do you think is an ideal landing spot?

ARob landing spot

Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a coach at RotoAcademy.  Continue this conversation with him on Twitter or Google+.

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