The Notre Dame offensive line was heavily represented at the Senior Bowl in January. Although Liam Eichenberg did not see the field after being invited, offensive linemen Aaron Banks and Robert Hainsey helped fill the void. Hainsey’s projection is particularly intriguing. Both players served on the interior in Mobile, but Hainsey was a tackle in college. What makes Notre Dame stalwart Robert Hainsey a promising offensive guard prospect in the NFL Draft, and does he have the skill set to eventually start in the NFL?
Robert Hainsey NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’4 1/2″
- Weight: 302 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 1/8″
- Arm: 32″
- Hand: 9 3/4″
Tony Pauline’s Robert Hainsey Scouting Report
Positives: College right tackle who projects to guard in the NFL. Explosive, strong, and gets movement run blocking. Powerfully drives defenders off the line, keeps his feet moving, and works blocks hard. Exceptional position blocker who stays square, gets his hands into defenders, and knocks them from their angles of attack or seals them from plays. Quick to the second level, displays outstanding vision, and works to hit as many defenders as possible on a single snap.
Negatives: Lumbers around the field. Ineffective pulling across the line of scrimmage. Struggles to adjust.
Analysis: Hainsey was a productive, durable right tackle for Notre Dame, but he lacks the athleticism and movement skills to stay at the position in the NFL. Despite this, he has the size, strength, and wherewithal to line up at guard for a power gap offense.
Senior Bowl Performance
Robert Hainsey quietly played well during Senior Bowl week. After playing right tackle in college, the Senior Bowl was some of Hainsey’s first real action against comparable competition at guard. He got a lot of reps on the interior throughout the week and played well, showing the ability to get to the second level and hold his own up front. Here’s more from Hainsey’s Senior Bowl week summary, found in the National Team practice report.
“It was an effective week for Robert Hainsey. He didn’t always play his natural position, but he displayed impressive upside at offensive guard, and that’s likely what he’ll be drafted to play. Hainsey employed steady hands and a squared base in pass protection, and as a run blocker, he proved himself to be able to drive players back. He also moved effectively in zone concepts, further compounding his upside as an interior blocker with positional versatility. He profiles as a solid mid-to-late-round pick after his trip to Mobile.”
Robert Hainsey Player Profile
Notre Dame routinely scores some of the top offensive line recruits in the nation each year. Robert Hainsey’s commitment helped reinforce that trend. Hainsey was one of the best offensive line prospects in the nation in the 2017 class. On ESPN’s board, Hainsey was a four-star recruit, near the five-star boundary. Not only that, but he was also the top-rated guard in the nation, the 31st overall player, and a member of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
As one might imagine, Hainsey received offers from some of the premier programs in the NCAA. Ohio State, LSU, Florida, and Georgia, were among the dozens of teams that gave Hainsey scholarship opportunities. However, Hainsey ended up choosing the Fighting Irish instead. At that point, Notre Dame had the proven NFL development record that Hainsey sought.
Robert Hainsey’s college football career at Notre Dame
Hainsey hit the ground running with the Fighting Irish. He played in all thirteen games as a true freshman and logged a start at right tackle against the LSU Tigers. His freshman year provided the foundation for what would be a permanent switch to right tackle in college. Hainsey took over the starting role in 2018, and he didn’t look back.
In 2018, Hainsey started all thirteen games at right tackle, providing stability along the line of the Fighting Irish. In 2019, he started the first eight games before breaking his ankle. Then, in 2020, he came back from his season-ending injury and helped lead Notre Dame to the College Football Playoffs. Hainsey was named a second-team All-ACC honoree for his performance, earning an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Overall, Hainsey started 34 games and played in 46 over the course of his college football career. He was a two-time captain for the Fighting Irish and played a crucial role in sustaining Notre Dame’s status as a perennial powerhouse.
Robert Hainsey’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
As Tony’s analysis lays out above, Hainsey is a strong, powerful blocker, who brings a good motor and solid fundamentals to the trenches. Because he lacks top-tier athleticism and length, Hainsey will have to play at guard in the NFL if he wants a chance to start.
Nevertheless, Hainsey’s production at right tackle in college does imply some positional versatility. That will be valuable to NFL teams who are always looking for more depth and security on the line.
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As far as draft stock goes, the Notre Dame offensive guard will likely fall into Day 3. He didn’t play guard in college like his teammate Aaron Banks, so there is some projection on that front.
However, Hainsey has the traits to thrive there. At the Senior Bowl, he flashed above-average mobility getting to the second level and traversing the line. As Tony says, Hainsey would likely be more productive in a power gap scheme, but he appears to have some capacity for zone execution as well.
Which teams would benefit most from Hainsey’s addition?
A lot of teams use hybrid power/zone schemes. Therefore, Hainsey will have to be somewhat versatile across that matrix if he wants to have a chance at starting. Nevertheless, there are some especially good matches for the Notre Dame offensive guard.
As an early-to-mid Day 3 pick, he projects well as versatile depth with scheme-specific starting potential at guard. Teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, and New England Patriots, would acclimate Hainsey schematically, while also potentially providing avenues to breakthrough the lineup.
Generally, there are two factors Hainsey has going in his favor no matter what happens. He was a top-ranked recruit in high school, suggesting the necessary pedigree to carve out an NFL career, and he fared well at the Senior Bowl.
At any rate, Hainsey can be a solid depth piece given his experience at tackle and his projection toward guard. And if he finds the right schematic fit, he could break into a starting lineup at some point in his career.
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