I want to thank my talented buddy Todd C. Smith for this valuable contribution to Burgundy Blog: a fresh interview with promising rookie linebacker and fourth-round draft pick Keenan Robinson.
ASHBURN—Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan used his experience coaching the ‘South’ in the Senior Bowl earlier this spring to his advantage when drafting players this past April. Former Texas Longhorn linebacker Keenan Robinson played for Shanahan in that game and hit it off with the coach. And when Washington called his name on draft day, the opportunity to play alongside London Fletcher and Robert Griffin III added extra excitement for Robinson.
“I was very excited to be drafted by [the Redskins],” said Robinson in a recent online interview with Burgundy Blog. “ I knew the organization from the Senior Bowl, so I knew I was headed to a great organization. I think that guys like London and Robert are teammates who any players would like a chance to play with, because they’re both game changers.”
Jim Haslett’s 3-4 base defense improved significantly in its second seasons in Washington last year. But with the departure of Rocky McIntosh, Haslett saw a need for a potential replacement that fit the scheme. In Robinson, the defensive coordinator has gained an ILB with three years of experience in that same system, which should expedite the learning curve for the rookie substantially.
“At Texas under Muschamp, we ran a 3-4 as well as the standard 4-3,” said Robinson. “I think playing ‘Mike’ and ‘Jack’ fits me just right. I think that my combination of size and speed will allow me to excel at the next level, as well as help me stop the run and the pass.”
The rookie has been applauded for his ‘never give up’ attitude on the field. At Texas, Robinson became a beast at stuffing the run and running down ball carriers in the open field. He showed consistency on tape in continuing to play through the whistle—hustling after the opposition even if he missed a first shot in the backfield.
“The NFL is a run first league and stopping the run is something that I know I will excel at,” Robinson said. “On the field I take no play off, as well as in life. Mentally and physically you have to be tough, and I believe I am. I think it’s really helped me become the football player I’ve been so far.”
While fitting in with an NFL team can become a difficult task for some rookies, Robinson—who played with Brian Orakpo for one year in college—seems to have acclimated quite quickly with his fellow Redskin teammates.
“The locker room camaraderie reminds me of college,” Robinson said. “Even though the age range varies vastly, everyone gets along great and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Orakpo has helped me get accustomed so far and he’s definitely one of the guys I look up to.”
The Longhorns have a huge following and the linebacker relished the experience of playing in front of huge crowds similar to the one at FedEx Field. Now, as a rookie in the League, Robinson has already learned to appreciate NFL fans and their contribution to the game of football.
“I think that the players and fans feed off of each other,” Robinson said. “If the players get a good vibe from the fans, the players will want to play even harder. The fan base is important to any team because they motivate the players and coaches, and we players try to give them what they want to see.”
Follow Todd Smith on Twitter: @tcsmitty