Robinson knows the ‘perfect’ Bears team to help him reach his potential originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – As a child, Dominic Robinson, like most high-scoring high school athletes, was confident in his abilities and his football future.
That belief remained when Robinson, a quarterback by trade, turned wide receiver during his freshman season at the University of Miami. In the 2018 season, Robinson caught 13 passes for 156 yards and four touchdowns. He felt the transition solidify. The 2019 season was supposed to be his go-to party and bring him to the attention of the NFL.
Life had other plans for Robinson. He admits that he began to doubt whether football is in his long-term future. At least the way he wanted it to look.
“I thought, ‘Next season will be my season,'” Robinson told NBC Sports Chicago. “I ended up with Lisfranc on my leg. The season didn’t go the way I planned. I think that’s how it should have been. I wanted more.”
Robinson did not want to be called by the NFL solely because of his measurable performance. There is no doubt that at 6ft 5in, 33 ¼ hands, and 4.72 40, Robinson would have gotten at least a cup of coffee. NFL teams don’t ignore the unteachable.
But Robinson’s goals and desires weren’t limited to pitting at the highest level based on his looks. He knew that the gifts given to him at birth should not be wasted. They couldn’t.
Lisfranc’s injury has changed Robinson’s mind about where he is best placed to influence the game. A playmaker by nature, Robinson has watched college football and seen elite pass rushers change the game, fueled by the same natural tools he possesses.
“I love watching college football,” Robinson said at the Bears’ rookie mini-camp. “So I watch Chase Young just run around people and I’m like, ‘Dude, if I can’t do that, there’s something wrong with me.’ So that’s what prompted me to do it.”
After two seasons on defense and an impressive performance with the NFL Scouts, Robinson was drafted by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The dream was very much alive.
The Bears see a lot of untapped potential in Robinson. His physical talent is only matched by his willingness not to sacrifice the tools that God has given him.
For Robinson, being a Chicago bear is now what he is; it’s ingrained in his DNA as he works to make NFL dreams a reality.
“I’ve been blessed with these gifts so I don’t want to waste them,” Robinson told NBC Sports Chicago. “My wife moved here, so I want to succeed in [my family] also. That’s why I’m on a routine now.
“When I was a student, I quit training, and you had homework and everything. Now this is what I do. That’s all. So here I am. Is always. I am ready to do whatever I need. For yourself and the Bears.”
Robinson arrived in Chicago as a key part of general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberlfuss’ first draft class.
This is a group led by Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker who are expected to provide support on the first day of refurbished secondary equipment. Velus Jones Jr. and Braxton Jones could turn pro within 10 years.
Robinson their big swing. A high-ceilinged “project” that the Bears can turn into an elite pass rusher with the right mix of training and his relentless work ethic.
Everyone around Halas Hall sees what Robinson might one day be.
“He’s a very talented young pass rusher,” veteran defenseman Al-Quadin Muhammad said. “He will be great. He will be great. He comes every day, he works hard. I see him here early, taking care of his body. … He is locked up and strives to get better every day. He will be great.”
“Before it gets too big,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “Every situation, every attitude that comes, he, he absorbs the attitude, what we teach him. .
“Every day is a new day for him. Something comes to mind and he says “OK, we need to teach you this or read your keys a little better”, but it’s fixed the next day. So it’s good when you have a player who probably makes a mistake on the first day, you fix it in the meeting, and then on the second day, he fixes it when it comes up again. That’s the sign of a guy who’s going to be okay, a guy who’s a professional.”
Robinson’s ability to quickly turn lessons in the classroom into action on the field is a habit left over from his previous life as a quarterback.
“Being a quarterback, it was a lot easier to watch a movie and figure out if you made a mistake or not,” Robinson told NBC Sports Chicago. “You know if you missed a roll or made a wrong reading. Obviously, I know that if I get the bag, it will be fine. But it’s difficult, like setting the edge and all that. “I did something wrong. I don’t blame myself. I’m not like that. Coaches will tell me when the reputation is good and when it’s not.”
“As a quarterback, you have to be a perfectionist and always work, so I take that mindset into account.”
Veteran defense leader Robert Quinn now helps in this quest for excellence.
Quinn didn’t show up for the OTA and mandatory mini-camp, preferring to stay away and work on his body. Since Quinn arrived at training camp, Robinson has learned as much as he can from a guy who hit 18.5 sacks last season.
“It was great because now I can watch him do some things and I can learn,” Robinson told NBC Sports Chicago of how I was able to pick Quinn’s brain. “He does what I do, but he does it differently. Watching him do it and win with it teaches me how best to work with him.”
This move, a simple side kick, could be the first move in the ever-expanding toolbox of the Bears’ next great pass rusher.
Robinson admits that he started his past-rush life very early. He knows he has work to do, from leveling to containment.
Dominic Robinson’s transformation from former quarterback to elite pass rusher may take some time, but the Bears believe the finished product will be a sight to behold.
“The sky is the limit,” Williams said of Robinson.
Robinson has always understood that the results he dreams of will not come overnight. They will be the result of long days and nights spent in the cinema, gym and on the field, honing their tools into elite pass rush weapons.
The Bears’ faith in Robinson and the recovery status should allow both to be patient while the signalman turned quarterback hunter works to unearth the draft gem the Poles think he has found.
“It’s perfect for me,” Robinson told NBC Sports Chicago. “That means I’m in a good situation. This means that I have many opportunities to improve.”
Robinson always knew his NFL shot was just around the corner. From an early age, he was told how rare his physical abilities were. This is the type that gives you the ability to switch positions twice, switch sides of the ball, and NFL teams still dream of the possibilities.
Robinson disagrees with Williams that “the sky is the limit” for him. But he is well aware that in order to descend from the earth into the stratosphere, it will take every ounce of blood, sweat and faith in his body.
“That means I have a long way to go,” Robinson said with a laugh when asked about Williams’ comment.
The longest and most difficult journeys often bring the greatest rewards.
Dominic Robinson is the one the Bears are willing to wait for.