As an undrafted rookie, Lee Robinson realizes he needs to work harder than most to standout among his peers.
The Alcorn State product also understands that – despite being passed over in April’s 2009 NFL Draft — he has a fair opportunity to make the Broncos roster this season. Each year, undrafted college free agents latch on to rosters across the NFL and become success stories … In fact, exhibit A sits directly across from Robinson inside the Broncos’ locker room.
Last year at this time, Wesley Woodyard was walking around Dove Valley as an undrafted free agent, hoping to prove himself as a commodity for the Broncos after a stellar career at the University of Kentucky. Under the radar, the linebacker confidently stuck to his game through minicamps, organized team activities and training camp.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After making the club’s regular season roster, Woodyard made a name for himself on special teams over the Broncos’ first eight games of 2008 and ended up starting six games for the team at the end of last season.
Robinson hopes to emulate Woodyard’s success story.
“I look up to him because he came in, in the same situation as me,” Robinson said. “I’m just going to come in, like he did, and continue to put my head down and work.”
Like Woodyard, Robinson enjoyed a plethora of success at the collegiate level. At Alcorn State, Robinson put up gaudy numbers on a weekly basis — causing havoc for opposing offenses on numerous Saturday afternoons. In 43 collegiate games, he amassed 334 tackles – 193 of which were solo – and added 18.5 sacks. Lined up at outside linebacker, he also tallied three interceptions, recorded 11 pass breakups, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Mostly, Robinson – who possesses terrific athleticism and strength (particularly in his upper body) — was known at the collegiate level for his tackling ability. As a senior, he was clearly a ball-hawk — posting a team-high 111 tackles. He ranked fifth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in tackles per game at 9.3. Those totals earned him first-team all-conference honors and placed him in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game following his senior campaign.
It should be noted, however, that Robinson did not simply put up big numbers late into his college tenure.
From the moment he received consistent playing time at Alcorn State, he showed a knack for finding his way toward the ball. During his junior campaign he recorded 82 tackles, 14 of which were for a loss. As a sophomore, he recorded a career-high 7.5 sacks.
After playing outside linebacker in college, Robinson has been asked to transition to the inside position with the Broncos. This shouldn’t be a huge transition for Robinson, who has already proven to be a versatile athlete. While attending Amite Country High School in Liberty, Miss., he lettered in baseball, basketball, football and track. In fact, he won the state title in the long jump and triple jump as a senior.
So far it seems the former track standout is taking his transition to the NFL game in stride.
Like most rookies, he is leaning on his veteran counterparts for advice. Leaders within the Broncos’ linebacker corps, such as D.J. Williams and Andra Davis, have already played mentoring roles in Robinson’s young NFL career.
“A lot of the linebackers have actually helped me out a lot,” he said. “All of them pretty much look out for me … I just play my role and listen to what they tell me.”
Courted by other NFL suitors upon going undrafted, Robinson chose to come to Denver because he felt the fit was right. Time will tell the final outcome, but with training camp on the horizon, he is happy to be wearing orange and blue.
“Right now, this is just a blessed situation,” Robinson said. “I asked the lord to put me wherever he wanted me to be and I ended up here. I thought it was a pretty good situation and a great team, so I decided to come here.”
– Zach Eisendrath, DenverBroncos.com