There is a widely held belief that the NFL Draft would have gone differently for the Dallas Cowboys had Mike McCarthy not replaced Jason Garrett as head coach. Many suspect he would not have supported the idea of taking CeeDee Lamb with the glaring needs on defense, but that is questionable. A better case can be made for not grabbing Neville Gallimore in the third round, as the team seemed much more willing to invest in the interior of the defensive line this offseason. But if there is one pick that Garrett would probably have been entirely behind, it was cornerback Reggie Robinson II, taken in the fourth round. Robinson was seen as player that was rising for many teams, and like so many other picks for the Cowboys, he may turn out to be a tremendous bargain. That is not the main reason that Garrett would probably have loved him, however. The concept of Garrett’s right kind of guy, or RKG, fits Robinson to a T.
A recent profile of Robinson by Todd Archer of ESPN provides some things you may not have known about the rookie. It addresses some of the reasons the staff is high on his future contributions to the team, but it is the off field stuff that is truly interesting.
He’s deaf in one ear
It’s always inspiring to see a player overcome any kind of disability. Unless you were very familiar with him, you probably had no idea that he was born with this.
“We found out when he was in third or fourth grade when they did a hearing test at school,” said his father, Reginald, who played on the defensive line at Grambling State University. “He had a big hearing aid, and you know how some other kids can be about that. He didn’t wear that very long at all.”
Robinson started sitting closer to the front of his classes to hear the teachers better.
The problem with his left ear never affected his play on the field, as he was able to line up on either side effectively, with the secondary using hand signals when they wanted to make sure that communication was clear. Many times people like his college coach were unaware of the situation until he told them.
“Honestly, I didn’t know about it when we were recruiting him, and I didn’t find out until he got on campus,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “It was one of those deals where I was walking beside him down the hall and I said something to him, and he kind of turned his head to talk to me. He tells me, ‘Coach, you know I’m deaf in this ear, right?’ No, Reggie, I didn’t know that.”
He is very intelligent
Robinson was not one of those football players who only focus on the game.
The impairment didn’t affect his grades in high school or at Tulsa, where he recently graduated with two degrees, one in organizational studies and the other media.
That is impressive for anyone, much less a person who had to work a bit harder because of his hearing. It bodes very well for him in learning the scheme and assignments in Dallas, and should pay dividends on the field, where the ability to process things quickly and make the right adjustments is crucial.
Expect him to make a positive impact off the field as well
In addition to serving as a role model and inspiration for others who have personal disabilities to overcome, he also relishes providing some motivation for all youth. After he was drafted, his high school defensive coordinator, Jason Payne, asked him to participate in a Zoom meeting with current members of the Cleburne football team. Robinson was the first graduate from the small Texas town to be drafted in 44 years. He was not sure if he made much of an impact, until he saw a reaction from one of the youth on social media.
Robinson had been just like them, growing up in the town’s peewee league and coming through the same middle school programs. In high school, he starred in football and ran track. He had dreams just like they did, even if the New Orleans Saints were his favorite team — being a Louisiana native — and not the Cowboys.
Robinson wasn’t sure if he had made an impact on his audience.
“But later that day, one of the kids posted on Facebook I had joined the call and they were excited,” Robinson said.
That is the kind of engagement that teams love to see from their players. As with most teams, there is a long history of Cowboys players doing good in their communities, and Robinson will likely be another.
Oh, and that talent
All the other stuff is great, but Dallas drafted Robinson with a mid-round pick to help on the field. And he showed in college that he should do just that.
The Dallas staff saw Robinson’s production improve from year to year. As a senior at Tulsa, he intercepted four passes and had 17 pass deflections. Robinson also blocked four kicks in his career. During the draft process, Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay came to love Robinson’s game. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Robinson has the size to line up against bigger receivers or potentially play safety. He clocked a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine but ran faster in workouts, so he has the speed to match up, as well.
“I remember the first time I watched the tape on him at Tulsa, and you are wondering why he is not part of the conversation with the other guys up there in the first two rounds,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “Obviously, his size, his strength, his ability as another big corner to play with length [are a plus].”
So all the signs are that Robinson is a complete package, with a lot of potential on the field and great character. The more we look into the draft class, the more we anticipate seeing them on the field. Robinson should be just more evidence to excite us.