I want to start a Cards JAG series for each Tuesday leading up t o training camp---because it always makes me sad when fans call Cardinals’ under the radar signees JAG (“just a guy”) or “camp body” or even worse, “a piece of trash.”
There once was a time when Kurt Warner was “just a guy” stocking shelves at a grocery store in Iowa while still hoping to play in the NFL. Well, he’s now a HOF JAG, isn’t he?
Under the radar guys are always at a disadvantage---because they have to find a way to beat out established veterans or draft picks at their position. Often times, they are pigeonholed and never given any training camp reps with the first two teams---and thus their only hope is to make a splash in the 4th quarters of pre-season games.
Or---the best thing they can do is open the coaches’ eyes on special teams.
But---here’s the rub. When you take the time to learn and understand a long shot’s journey to the NFL, you can see and appreciate all of the hard work, talent and perseverance that got the long shot to an NFL training camp and why the prospect caught the GM’s and scouts’ eyes in the first place.
Most of you probably don’t know much about Cardinals’ LB Pete Robertson. Some of you may not even know that he is currently on the 90 man roster. So, here is an accounting of his journey to the NFL and some of the obstacles he’s had to face in order to make his 53 man roster case for the 2019 Arizona Cardinals.
Pete Robertson NFL Journey:
* QB/SS Longview High School in Longview, Texas... three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and ESPN.com ... earned both All-State and District 11-5A accolades in 2010 ... passed for 1,559 yards and touchdowns while rushing for 1,159 yards and 13 TD’s...
* Was moved to OLB at Texas Tech (6-2, 239) where he led the Big 12 in sacks in 2014 with 13, plus 81tackles, and 15.5 TFL. Was a Butkus Award nominee in 2015. In 2015, he was asked to drop into coverage more, was doubled team more and his sack numbers dropped to 5 sacks, 66 tackles and 13.5 TFL.
* Was not invited to the NFL Combine. While prepping for his Pro Day, while weightlifting, he suffered a herniated disc, bending his L4 and L5 vertebrae which pinched the surrounding nerves to the point where he could barely walk for a couple of weeks.
* Was not drafted and was signed as a UCFA by the Seahawks in 2016. Was released during final cuts.
* Went to work for UPS in Dallas making $10 an hour, trying to support his then 1 year old daughter, Finely Rose.
* Was signed by the Redskins to a future’s contract in January of 2017. Robertson is the god-brother of former Redskins’ WR Malcolm Kelly and the cousin of current Redskins LT Trent Williams.
* Was waived during final cuts, but signed the next day to the Redskins’ PS. Was activated to the 53 man roster in November and made an immediate impact on STs---although on one notorious play versus the Cowboys, he downed a punt inside their 10 yard line and mistakenly ran it into the end zone for a touchback.
* Made very strong impression on HC Jay Gruden: “Petey has been unbelievable,” Gruden said. “He’s been great. Very, very athletic, and you’re talking about a guy that can possibly help on special teams as your fourth or fifth linebacker, and he’s one because he can run…He’s a great athlete.”
* Was waived by the Redskins during final cuts in 2018 and the Cardinals signed him to their PS in December 2018.
Why Pete Robertson Could Make Cardinals’ 2019 53 Man Roster:
* He’s an impact player on STs.
* He brings valuable versatility as a 34 OLB and 34 ILB.
* His college coach was Kliff Kingsbury.
* Vance Joseph loves to blitz his LBers and that’s one of Robertson’s greatest strengths.
* Cardinals’ depth at OLB and ILB is pretty much up for grabs.
* S D.J. Swearinger knows him from their Redskins’ days.
Tuesday JAG days---next week: JAG #2: S Jonathan Owens.
Does Pete Robertson make the team?
In my opinion, if he shows that he can tackle downhill and with lateral quickness at ILB, he sticks.