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Combine Notebook: Penn State's Chop Robinson ready to flex

Wed Feb 28 2:56pm ET
Field Level Media

INDIANAPOLIS -- Circle DL 45 in your program before the start of defensive line workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday morning if you want to be ahead of the "riser" talk around Penn State defensive end Chop Robinson.

Robinson's blue-chip trait happens to be a lightning-fast first step, the golden gift for pass rushers, and he is widely projected to be selected in the top 20 of the 2024 NFL Draft in April.

Robinson had only four sacks as a junior in 2023 and played 10 games. He's undeniably raw but began working on consistency with his hand usage when the season ended and he declared for the draft.

"At my best, my bend, hands and ability to dip around the corner to the quarterback," Robinson said of his best traits. "I'm trying to jump 11 feet in the broad (jump)."

Brace for buzz around Robinson to be amplified by Thursday night if he delivers on what he said Wednesday were his best workout numbers in preparation for the event. He said he's targeting a 4.4-second 40 and a vertical of 38 to 40 inches based on benchmarks he already has hit.

Mind you, Demeioun Robinson -- nicknamed Porkchop as a 14-pound baby, shortened to Chop when he slimmed down -- is 6-foot-3, 254 pounds.

Media mentioned former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, a two-time All-Pro with the Dallas Cowboys and the 12th overall pick in 2021, as a comparison to Robinson on Wednesday. For reference, Parsons measured 6-3, 245 before the 2021 draft but has no official combine workout numbers because the event was canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19.

--Bears head coach Matt Eberflus begins every formal meeting with draft prospects at the combine the same way: offering them the choice of playing putt-putt or darts in the team's hotel suite before the interview questions begin.

"I like putting. I'm pretty good at both," Eberflus said. "Then we'll just teach them something about the offense, an offensive play, and then we'll show their tape and have them talk about their tape. Kind of checking their FBI (football intelligence) out there and then recall at the end to give us back what they learned in the beginning. And it's the same process for all the players."

LSU defensive tackle Maason Smith met with Chicago on Tuesday night and said he grabbed the putter.

"I like golf more than darts," Smith said.

--Three prospects continuing their meteoric rise this week are Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, Missouri defensive lineman Darius Robinson and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell.

Expect to hear much more about McCarthy, who has three total losses between two high schools and three seasons at Michigan, acing interviews with NFL teams.

Robinson changed positions in his fifth season at Missouri last season and is being praised for that versatility in the trenches. He can line up at any spot on the defensive line.

Mitchell had 46 combined passes defensed the past two seasons and has all the skills to be the first defensive back drafted. If he runs the 40 time he expects -- 4.3 seconds -- at 200 pounds, that could be a reality.

--Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. huddled with his dad's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and had a session with Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Trotter Jr. said his dad prepped him with practice interview questions and has been an integral part of his preparation for two decades.

"Being in the league growing up, being around the game basically my whole life, he's taught me a lot about playing the linebacker position," Trotter Jr. said. "He's definitely helped me get to this position here and I give a lot of credit to him."

--As the Tennessee Titans dig into draft prospect evaluations of offensive linemen, new head coach Brian Callahan is getting additional face time with his dad. That would be offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

"There's not many people that are going to tell him how to do his job," Brian Callahan said. "He's about as good at it as anybody. It's been really fun for me. It's been a dream come true to be able to sit and to have a cup of coffee with my dad in the morning and talk about what we got coming up that day and talk about pass protection and technique and watch him do his job, too. It's been awesome."

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