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With First-Round Pick No. 2, Cardinals Take Darius Robinson

Missouri product continues bolstering of defensive line

The Cardinals selected DL Darius Robinson, here with Commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday in Detroit, with the No. 27 pick overall in the draft.
The Cardinals selected DL Darius Robinson, here with Commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday in Detroit, with the No. 27 pick overall in the draft.

There are wants and there are needs when it comes to the NFL draft, and the Cardinals addressed both on the defensive side of the ball Thursday night when they selected defensive lineman Darius Robinson with second of their first-round picks.

Robinson is a disruptive presence right at the point of attack, playing as a defensive end at Missouri. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, he's earned his reputation by being a physical and violent power-based rusher. In his last collegiate season, Robinson finished as first-team All-SEC and led the team in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (14).

"I'm a technician," said Robinson, who was picked 27th overall. "I'm always working on my hands inside, open body rotation, turning my toe at the top of the rush, coming out of my hips. That means whenever I go to a different alignment, I'm the same guy, it's just the step and the timing is a little bit different."

Robinson has been mocked to the Cardinals ever since he rose to the national spotlight during the combine circuit. While at the Senior Bowl, NFL scouts got a taste of what Robinson can bring to the defense, wrapping up the week voted as the "overall practice player of the week" by NFL scouts and executives. He also ran a 4.95 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.

"It felt like they had a plan of action of how they want to use their defensive lineman in their defensive scheme," Robinson said. "I knew (Arizona) was the place for me since the beginning of this process."

Now, the process begins into integrating Robinson into the defense. Having experience as both an interior and edge rusher, he brings a special level of versatility to the defense, a trait general manager Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon repeatedly said they valued.

"We have a plan for when he gets in here with where we want him to be," Gannon said. "But we have to get our hands on him and see how he acclimates into what we're doing."

Robinson said he's willing to play anywhere along the line because "whatever they need me to do, I will do it, man. I feel like our coaches put me in the best position to win, so why wouldn't I listen to my coaches?"

That's certainly music to Gannon's ears, and after seeing his physicality on the field, the Cardinals coach has no problems labeling his newest lineman as a "war daddy."

"Violent, violent, violent," Gannon said. "He's really good in the run and pass game and can win in multiple spots in both the run and pass game."

The violence, for Robinson, comes from within.

"I'm made of elite edge, energy, details, grit, emotional consistencies. That's how I play," Robinson said.

With that mindset, he'll fit right in within Cardinals defensive coordinator Nick Rallis scheme. Rallis is a believer in rotating his defensive front seven throughout the game to keep players fresh and Robinson's tape shows they can put him anywhere.

Whether they'll keep him on the edge or place him on the interior with defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc is yet to be determined as Gannon wouldn't provide any insight in his post round one press conference.

Robinson can make an immediate impact to a defensive unit that struggled last season. The Cardinals finished towards the bottom of the league with 33 sacks. Zaven Collins is going into his second season as an outside linebacker and the room still is young with BJ Ojulari, Jesse Luketa, and Victor Dimukeje.

Night one of the draft wrapped up with Cardinals selecting Robinson, but it kicked off with one of the best non-quarterback prospects in recent memory as the Cardinals drafted Marvin Harrison Jr. with the No. 4 pick in the draft.

And the friendly banter is already off to a fast start.

"Oh," Robinson emphasized over the phone. "We beat Ohio State in the bowl game, so now I need to make sure Marv knows that when we're talking ball. He's a generational player, so if I got my name next to his, I feel great."