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Nick Rallis Ready To Add 'Detailed' Darius Robinson To Defensive Line

First-rounder's post-draft moment stands out to defensive coordinator

First-round pick Darius Robinson (right) talks with coach Jonathan Gannon when he arrived in Tempe last week.
First-round pick Darius Robinson (right) talks with coach Jonathan Gannon when he arrived in Tempe last week.

Darius Robinson is built different.

It's not just because his 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame was described as "the Greek God-iest of bodies ever," by NBC Sports’ Chris Simms. It's not just because of the two degrees that he earned at Missouri that even had Marvin Harrison Jr. impressed.

It's also because of his mindset.

"The guy is on the draft stage talking about his hand placement," Cardinals defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said. "I mean, I think that says enough, like who talks about hand placement right when they get drafted? Most guys (it's), 'Hey, I'm coming to this city, excited to help them win.' This guy is talking about his hand placement.

"I think that says it right there of how detailed he is."

In his hometown of Detroit, Robinson, dressed to the nines in a purple suit, walked across the stage after being announced as the 27th overall selection and the second of the Cardinals' two first-round picks. While hand placement certainly was on his mind, Robinson recognized the magnitude of the moment.

Each step across the stage was a step forward towards his future in the Valley.

"Red is one of my favorite colors," Robinson said that night from Michigan. "I might go out (to Arizona) and I might stay. I might not even come back at all. I'm just really excited and I can't wait to meet my coaches and my new teammates."

The organization can wait the extra week for Robinson, before rookie minicamp starts. Coach Jonathan Gannon said following the selection that Robinson's physical play on the field popped off the film. For Rallis, versatility comes to mind.

Despite the ability to be an edge rusher out of the outside linebacker room, Rallis confirmed that Robinson will be in Derrick LeBlanc's defensive line room.

"He'll have to do a lot of different things along with those other defensive lineman," Rallis said. "Rookie minicamp specifically, we're taking baby steps. That'll be up to Derrick, what he wants to install initially and where he wants to work on the field, but over the course of the offseason he's going to have to do a lot of different things."

Whether it was lining up right over the center as a 0-tecnhique in 2022 or standing up and bull-rushing the tackle as a 5-tech defensive end in 2023, Robinson played everywhere on the defensive line. In his last season at Missouri, Robinson led the Tigers with 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He also finished first-team All-SEC.

Gannon said "everywhere" is exactly how they'll deploy Robinson at the line of scrimmage.

Robinson joins a room that'll feature a handful of new faces as general manager Monti Ossenfort entered free agency with an agenda to shore up the defensive line.

In March, Ossenfort signed lineman Bilal Nichols, Justin Jones, Khyiris Tonga, and re-signed L.J. Collier.

This comes after Ben Stille, Roy Lopez, Naquan Jones, and Phil Hoskins were the linemen Rallis had to rotate through in the season finale due to injuries. Dante Stills, a 2023 sixth-round pick, started in eight games at defensive end but ended the season on injured reserve.

Robinson becomes the next big body on the depth chart.

"We can never have enough big guys, whether that's on the offensive or defensive line," Ossenfort said. "I think last year our depth got tested, so we were able to add some pieces that we (knew) were going to help us in free agency and then (we added) another piece in the draft here."

Something that stood out to Rallis is the leadership he's already seen from Nichols and Jones. "The dialogue that's happening in that defensive line room right now, it's high intelligence, it's high leadership, it's just phenomenal," Rallis said. Once Robinson heard his name called, the free agency additions took to social media to welcome their newest teammates.

Robinson, like all of the Cardinals 12 draftees, will have the opportunity to learn a lot from their veteran teammates. As long as the routine he shared following the draft translates to the NFL, Rallis sees a bright future for his rookie.

"I love when guys have a really good routine because it means that they are making sure that they're checking every box of every facet of their game," Rallis said. "Whether that's scheme, technique, the physical, psychological or their health, they take all of those into great consideration and really map out the plan of, 'How do I maximize myself going into a game.'"

Images of the Arizona Cardinals working out at the Dignity Health Training Facility during the second week of the NFL offseason program