2024 NFL Draft: Chop Robinson Terrorizes Iowa Offense in First-Round Display

    Penn State EDGE Chop Robinson was a game-changing force in Week 4 against Iowa, providing a Round 1 highlight reel for his 2024 NFL Draft aspirations.

    The top of the 2024 NFL Draft EDGE podium is still up for grabs. But in Week 4, Penn State’s Chop Robinson may have thrown his hat into the ring. Robinson has always been in the first-round conversation, but against Iowa, he displayed game-changing ability worthy of early Round 1 capital.

    Chop Robinson Makes His Bid for EDGE1 in the 2024 NFL Draft

    The 2021 NFL Draft had Micah Parsons, 2022 had Aidan Hutchinson, and Will Anderson Jr. was the EDGE in 2023.

    Having a direct impact on the opposing quarterback and, thus, a relatively large impact on the outcome of a game, the EDGE position is a premium one. Consequently, blue-chip talent at the EDGE position has historically commanded early first-round capital.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Watchlist

    Even before the aforementioned top EDGEs, Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Jadeveon Clowney were all top three picks. After potential franchise quarterbacks, blue-chip EDGE prospects are next off the board.

    Regarding the 2024 NFL Draft class, however, bona fide top-tier talent at the EDGE position is lacking. Jared Verse was the favorite heading into the year but has struggled with consistency. Dallas Turner was another contender at Alabama, and though improving, has a ways to go with his pass-rush arsenal.

    Right now, there are no guarantees of an early EDGE in the 2024 NFL Draft class. But there is an EDGE prospect fresh off a dominant performance who might just have the tools to jump into the blue-chip range: Nittany Lions defender Demeioun “Chop” Robinson.

    Robinson Terrorizes Iowa

    The Nittany Lions beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 31-0 in Week 4, holding Iowa to just 33 offensive plays in the process. The Hawkeyes offense is far from an imposing unit, but it was the suffocating play of the Penn State defense that led to the shutout.

    Robinson’s statistics on the day were strong. He had two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. But those stats don’t come close to doing justice to the impact he made on the field.

    Robinson generated constant pressure from multiple alignments and consistently prevented the offense from operating on schedule. In doing so, he perhaps compiled his most compelling 2024 NFL Draft highlight reel yet.

    Robinson showed a little bit of everything in Week 4, but it feels right to start with his pure, raw explosive capacity off the snap. This is a player who, according to Feldman’s Freaks, ran a 4.47 40-yard dash in the summer, broad jumped 10’7″, and ran a faster shuttle time than Parsons.

    On the snap below — a run defense rep — you can see how much ground Robinson (#44) is able to cover off his first step, and just how explosive he is out of his stance. He’s a true instant accelerator — a 254-pound powder keg — whose torrid first step grants him limitless playmaking potential both as a power and finesse rusher.

    Robinson’s searing quickness can destroy plays — even plays specifically designed to flush out the defensive line and capitalize on space in the short range.

    In the play below, Iowa dials up a screen pass hoping to beat the ferocious Penn State rush. The Nittany Lions employ a NASCAR front, designed to give their athletes more space to work and attack the blocking front. Robinson is lined up at 3-tech, shaded over the guard’s outside shoulder.

    As soon as the ball is snapped, Robinson blinks from the B-gap to the A-gap with his rare lateral agility and twitch, and is able to use a double swipe-rip combo to pry past the guard. He immediately gets in the QB’s face with his elite closing speed, raises his hands, and forces an inaccurate pass.

    Robinson’s explosiveness, combined with his sheer energy, makes him a dangerous pursuit defender. And while he doesn’t have the elite length and reach of other EDGE prospects, his burst and frame density give him a respectable power element in his own right.

    MORE: Top EDGEs in the 2024 NFL Draft

    The rep below once again sees Penn State employ a NASCAR front. Robinson is shaded over the center’s outside shoulder this time, at a deeper 1-tech position.

    Right away, he’s able to generate momentum with his explosiveness and powerful knee drive. He aligns his base, attacks the center’s shoulders, and then fully locks in his base and plows the center into the QB’s feet. When the center tries to replace his anchor, Robinson violently re-exerts inside his torso to sustain leg drive.

    The sack here is credited to Adisa Isaac, another exciting EDGE prospect on Penn State’s defensive front. But Robinson helps make it possible by eliminating step-up lanes and suffocating the QB with his power up the middle.

    He’s explosive. He’s powerful enough. And he’s a tenacious competitor with unmatched energy and zeal. But the ultimate part of Robinson’s game — and a trait that makes him unique among most of the 2024 NFL Draft’s EDGE prospects — is his bend capacity and ankle flexion. That too was on full display in his performance against Iowa.

    The first instance of actionable NFL bend from Robinson came early in the first quarter on a crucial third-and-nine play. Robinson starts the rep from the 4i position but loops outside the tackle off the snap.

    His effortless short-area explosiveness helps him stress the tackle’s blocking angle early, and Robinson capitalizes with a smooth double swipe-rip combo to the outside shoulder. But then, Robinson uses his ankle flexion to accelerate around the corner and crowd the QB.

    Credit to the Iowa left guard, who makes a heads-up play to dart back and block off Robinson on the backside. But the damage is already done. Robinson’s rush made Cade McNamara uncomfortable, and he rushes the throw. The pass is behind his intended target and falls incomplete, ending the drive.

    Later in the game, on this next rep, we see Robinson’s bend capacity and hyper-elite explosiveness work together to force another incompletion.

    To this point, Robinson has taken reps everywhere from 7-tech to a shaded 1-tech. But on this rep, he’s all the way outside the slanted tight end at wide-9.

    First, watch how quickly Robinson gets out of his stance and how much ground is covered within the first second by elongating his strides. Robinson can terrorize tackles with his teleportation ability from outside alignments. If you’re a tackle flipping your hips to the apex as Robinson crosses face, you’re already too late. We see that here.

    The speed and explosiveness aren’t the only highlights here, though. Next, watch how Robinson is able to narrow his rushing angle and pinch the apex after getting a step on his blocker. He barely loses any speed as he dips underneath his opponent’s extension, and his pressure helps force an incompletion.

    This is a designed TE screen. The QB isn’t supposed to hold the ball for very long. But Robinson can get pressure so quickly that he can affect even the quick, routine plays.

    Finally, here’s one more example of Robinson’s bend capacity from Saturday — one that actually led to a sack on the stat sheet.

    This rep sees Robinson lined up at 7-tech outside the tackle’s shoulder. He gets upfield quickly, forcing the tackle to lurch, and then nullifies the tackle’s extensions with a brisk double swipe.

    MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

    From there, Robinson uses his ankle flexion and torso flexibility to flatten his shoulder and dip underneath the tackle’s outstretched arms. Moreover, he’s able to finish the play by pinching the corner at an impressively acute angle. He doesn’t lose speed, breaches the pocket from the back-side, and swings his arm to club the ball out of the QB’s hands.

    There are things to nitpick in Robinson’s game. He doesn’t have the length that other EDGE prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft have, and that could be a sticking point for some teams later on. He can also lose his balance when threatening around the apex, and his initial hand placement can be more consistent.

    Nevertheless, Robinson’s impact against Iowa in Week 4 is the type you expect from game-changing players. Robinson single-handedly constricted the Iowa offense. From almost every alignment, he deconstructed blocks and disrupted passing plays. And quietly at 6’3″, 254 pounds, he has the leverage and play strength to hold the edge in run support.

    Several upcoming Big Ten battles will further test Robinson’s mettle. When Penn State plays Ohio State, Robinson will face an underrated talent in left tackle Josh Simmons. Several weeks later, he’ll play a Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line at Michigan.

    In order to lock in first-round capital, the key for Robinson will be to sustain his production over the course of Big Ten play. But no matter what kinds of numbers Robinson ends up with, he’s put more than enough on tape to validate himself as a contender for EDGE1.

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