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Is Amik Robertson turning the corner?

3rd-year CB has received glowing reviews in camp

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Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams
Amik Robertson
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When the Las Vegas Raiders selected Amik Robertson out of Louisiana Tech in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many people felt the Raiders found a diamond in the rough.

“A guy who has tremendous ball skills,” legendary ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said after the pick. “Only 5-foot-8 and 187 pounds, but he had 16 pass breakups, five interceptions this past year, also had eight tackles for loss, and three picks in one game against Southern Miss. What he lacks in height he makes up in those great ball skills.”

Kiper wasn’t alone in praising the pick as NFL Networks’ Daniel Jeremiah and Matt Miller, who was with Bleacher Report at the time, said Roberston was arguably the best nickel corner in the draft class. Also, Pro Football Focus listed him as one of their biggest steals of the draft, citing the ball skills Kiper pointed out and his status as their highest-graded cornerback over the two prior years for their justification.

However, Robertson has struggled in years one and two, looking closer to a ‘bust’ than ‘steal’.

As a rookie, he battled injuries and struggled to make the transition from wide to slot corner. The coaching staff and front office suggested he was struggling with the physicality of the position, most notably taking on blocks and tackling, which was supported by his 42.4 run defense grade from PFF and two missed tackles on just six opportunities during the regular season. All of that limited him to just 35 defensive snaps in year one.

Louisiana Tech v South Carolina
Bryan Edwards, Amik Robertson
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Louisiana Tech product got a chance to play more as a wide corner and start the following year when Trayvon Mullen went down in Week 4, however, the results weren’t much different.

Robertson continued to struggle with his tackling and run defense with four misses and a 36.2 grade, while also allowing 12 completions on 15 targets for 111 yards and three touchdowns during a three-game stretch. He was swiftly benched in Week 6 in favor of Brandon Facyson and only participated in three defensive snaps for the rest of the campaign.

However, it’s a new year and another new coaching staff which means the 2020 fourth-round pick will get a much-needed fresh start to try and regain confidence in himself.

“I really haven’t talked to [Robertson] about prior years,” the Raiders’ new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jason Simmons responded when asked if Robertson has gotten his confidence back.

“When I first stepped foot in the meeting room, it was all about a clean slate. It was about guys going out and forming our identity this year. So, anything negative that they had, I wasn’t carrying that over. I didn’t want them to carry it over.”

So far in camp, the reviews have been mostly positive for the third-year defensive back. Tashan Reed of The Athletic reported during minicamp that he was working with the starters while Mullen continues to rehab, and Reed doubled down by calling Robertson a ‘major standout’ during training camp.

Other beat writers have shared similar sentiments, but it’s not just the keyboard crunchers that he’s impressed. He’s caught the eye of the coaching staff and his teammates as well.

“I see a guy that is eager to learn,” Simmons said when speaking about Robertson’s recent performance. “I see a guy that is competitive, that’s feisty, a guy that has grit. Those are only [the] intangibles that he has. He plays with a chip on [his] shoulder. You can see it every day.”

Unprompted, 10-year veteran Duron Harmon also sung Robertson’s praises during a press conference after practice on Tuesday.

“Amik [Robertson] is another guy that if you look out there, he’s out there [at] practice early. He’s staying late, working on his releases each and every day. He’s bringing great energy each and every day. After workouts, when we do our walk thrus, he’s still in there, still trying to get some work in — fine-tuning his craft. Amik is another guy that I just enjoy being around and working with [on] the daily.”

So, based on all of the reviews, it seems like Robertson has turned the corner and started to figure things out. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see that play out live as he missed last week’s Hall of Fame game. But Raider Nation will get a chance to see his growth first-hand this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, and hopefully, for 17 to 21 more Sundays in the fall.