The Jets gave up a pair of first round picks to land him. He generated Warren Sapp comparisons. He had 16 sacks in 6 NFL seasons. Welcome to the Dewayne Robertson experience.
Not too long ago I shared Robertson's story and explained why I think he got a bit of a bad rap. He underperformed as a rookie, but broke out in his second year, playing at a borderline Pro Bowl level. Statistics do not jump off the page that year, but defensive tackles often produce effects that belie the numbers. Robertson was very disruptive that year. He took a major step back in 2005 due in part to a knee injury and in part to the team losing and never adequately replacing nose tackle Jason Ferguson. It is difficult to penetrate on the inside of the defensive line when the guy next to you who is supposed to occupy space is losing battles.
A coaching change in 2006 brought an ill advised scheme change to a 3-4 base defense. Robertson, who was best using his quick first step to penetrate was asked to tie up two blockers. It would have been one thing had he been put into a one gap role where he was asked to beat his men and get into the backfield. Eric Mangini's scheme did not call for that. Even so, Robertson showed flashes at the end of the year on an improved defense that helped produce a surprise 10-6 season. That did not carry over to 2007 where Robertson was consistently dominated at the point of attack, the Jets had a lousy season, and the coaching staff showed a bizarre unwillingness to give Sione Pouha a chance.
When a guy is picked in the top five and has about one and a half good years out of five with a team, he has to go down as a bust. I do have Robertson lower on the list than one might expect, however, due to mitigating factors. He was given bad circumstances. To his credit, he was always a hard worker and had a good attitude. His bad knee also likely had a role in his lack of production. A trade to the Bengals in 2008 was vetoed when he failed a physical, which forced the team to give him up for nothing to Denver. Dewayne Robertson is one bust I feel a bit bad for.
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