We’re 27 days away from the Panthers 2022 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 27 on the roster — safety Kenny Robinson.
Robinson played two stellar years of college ball at West Virginia in 2017 and 2018 before being expelled. He began his professional career in the XFL where he played in five games in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely ended the XFL season. Robinson was then drafted by the Panthers as a 2020 fifth round pick, making him a rare breed as a rookie who already had some professional experience.
As a rookie in Carolina he appeared in nine games and played 128 special teams snaps with just six defensive snaps while also spending time on the practice squad. He recorded one tackle during his first NFL season, but getting a lot of special teams reps is just fine for a fifth-round rookie.
In 2021 he became a more important piece to the Panthers secondary. Over 10 games he played 182 defensive snaps (28 percent of the team’s total) and remained a key special teams contributor. Last year he registered 17 total tackles. He was targeted five times in pass coverage and gave up five receptions, which isn’t great over a very small sample size.
The majority of Robinson’s defensive snaps last year came during the Panthers final three games. In Week 16 against the Buccaneers he logged 41 defensive snaps and recorded two tackles. In Week 17 against the Saints he played 31 defensive snaps with one tackle. In Week 18 he started his only game of the season and in 60 defensive snaps he registered a career-high five tackles.
At just 23 years old and entering his third season with the Panthers, the expectation is that Kenny should build on last year’s performance and push for even more playing time in 2022. That said, he’s going to face stiff competition for snaps at either safety spot. Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods will start while both Sean Chandler and Juston Burris will likely be ahead of Robinson on the depth chart in 2022 just as they were in 2021.
At worst Kenny Robinson should make the 53-man roster and continue to contribute on special teams. At best he can provide some competent depth at safety if called upon, but it will be an uphill battle for him to carve out a regular spot in the rotation.
How much of an impact do you think Kenny Robinson will make this year? Let us know in the comments!