Nickell Robey: Little big man

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INDIANAPOLIS – The trend in the NFL is finding bigger cornerbacks to matchup against the bigger receivers in the league. And you need look no farther than the Seahawks’ tandem of 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 Richard Sherman.

Then there’s Nickell Robey, the 5-7¾, 169-pound cornerback from USC. His measurables just don’t measure up. Neither did the evaluation he got when he decided to forego his senior season for the Trojans, which projected he would not be selected in the first three rounds of the draft in April.

But here is at the NFL Scouting Combine, ready to prove everyone wrong.

“That’s why I run like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, I jump like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” Robey said Sunday. “Because they say I’m not a prototypical corner. I’m not 5-10, 5-11, 6-foot. And I’m not 190, 180, or whatever.

“That’s why I go so hard and I try to go extra hard. Just to prove that it isn’t all about size. You can’t measure heart.”

Robey plans to make it in the NFL the same way he was able to play at USC, by compensating for his lack of size with speed and hops. As for the speed, he is planning to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.2-4.3-second range on Tuesday and already has a 41-inch vertical leap on his resume.

He can dunk a basketball, and has been able to do it since he was in the eighth grade.

“I was just playing around thinking I wasn’t going to be able to dunk,” he said of that first, fateful slam. “I jumped and I was just up there for a while. Then I just put the ball in.”

If only his ascent to becoming an NFL player was as much of a slam-dunk.


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