In a wild, pass-heavy, offensive conference, Nickell Robey proved he can handle the demands of covering some of the most talented receivers in the nation.
As a thee-year starter for the USC Trojans, Robey leaves the collegiate ranks with an impressive resume. Ball skills, long speed, quick feet, competitiveness—Robey has it.
The former Trojan will look to contribute at the next level as a slot corner and special teams ace. If you focus too much on his lack of size, you'll miss the traits that make Robey a special prospect in this year's draft.
Here are five things you need to know about him.
Full Name: Nickell Robey
Date of Birth: January 17, 1992
Hometown: Frostproof, Florida
High School: Frostproof High School
Major: Broadcast and Digital Journalism
As a Florida native, Robey took his game across the country and didn't waste time making an impact on his new surroundings.
Robey started at cornerback from the moment he stepped on campus and held down the job for three years at USC.
After bursting on the scene with four picks as a freshman, Robey saw offenses look to avoid him as he built his reputation in the conference.
By Robey's junior year, he established himself as a shutdown corner and was generally avoided by opposing offenses.
His seven career interceptions aren't truly indicative of his ball skills, as he could've had nearly double that if he was tested more.
Statistics via Sports-Reference.com.
Weight: 169 lbs.
Arm Length: 29.75"
Hand Size: 9.125"
40-Yard Dash: 4.53
Broad Jump: 127"
Vertical Jump: 37.5"
Bench Press: 10 reps at 225 lbs.
Three-Cone Drill: 6.74
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.09
Pro Day Results
40-Yard Dash: 4.35, 4.44
Vertical Jump: 40.5"
Broad Jump: 124"
Bench Press: 11 reps at 225 lbs.
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.42
Improving on his poor 40 time at the combine was a must for Robey. By improving on those times significantly at his pro day, he put himself back into mid- to late-round territory.
At his size, 4.5 speed would've been a hard sell to any war room looking at corners. Not that it's slow for the position, but at 5'7", he needed to be in the 4.4 range.
Robey acquitted himself nicely at his pro day and there shouldn't be any major concerns about him beyond his size and arm length.
Measurements and combine results via NFL.com.
Pro day results via nfldraftscout.com.
There's no denying the athlete Robey is, as he competed as a long jumper and sprinter on USC's track team.
The speedster also earned All-State Second Team honors in baseball and ran track in high school.
Robey's cousin, Carlton Thomas, was a running back for the Georgia Bulldogs from 2009-11.
He was the first true freshman to start at cornerback for the Trojans in the post-World War II era.
Information gathered via USCtrojans.com.
Though he's undeniably small for the position, Robey plays much bigger than his 5'7" frame might suggest. The feisty corner is very competitive and uses every bit of his long speed and quickness in short space to his advantage.
He makes plays in man and zone coverage and shows a good feel for both. He can make plays on the ball and showed all the speed needed to run with receivers downfield.
Robey played outside and inside at USC. He was used as a blitzer and found plenty of success in this role (5.5 career tackles for loss, two career sacks).
The former Trojan will likely find a home playing inside as a slot corner in the NFL. His big-play ability on returns will help him make an NFL roster, even if he's relegated to only being an inside corner.
Though it's possible he could last until the late rounds of the draft, there is a role for a prospect like Robey in the NFL.