There has been a significant wave of Canadian prospects to enter the NFL Draft in recent years, and Ole Miss edge rusher Tavius Robinson is one of the most enticing of the bunch.
After tallying a combined 13.5 sacks in two years at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Robinson transferred to Ole Miss and stepped into a big role for the Rebels’ defense in his final two seasons with the team. 2022 was an especially big year for him, as he tied for second in the SEC with 5 forced fumbles and added 7 sacks in the process.
Opportunities at the Senior Bowl and the Combine have showcased his physical gifts and his high ceiling rushing off the edge, and now he looks to carry his ascending momentum onto the NFL stage.
Robinson spoke with Windy City Gridiron about increased Canadian representation in the NFL, the mentality needed to consistently strip the ball out of runners’ hands, and more.
JI: You’re another top prospect coming out of Canada, which we’re seeing a lot more of lately. What does it mean to you to be representing your country on the big stage?
TR: Yeah, it means a ton. I feel like the number gets bigger every year. There [were] guys that I looked up to as a kid, Canadian guys who did it, and now it’s like, I’m one of those guys that other kids can look up to. It means a ton, and hopefully it provides more opportunity for Canadian athlete.
JI: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like there’s been a pretty strong bond among Canadian draft prospects.
TR: Yeah, we all know of each other, because we’re all Canadian, obviously, but a lot of us are all over the place. [Cornerback] Deane Leonard with the Chargers, me and him ended up playing at Ole Miss together, but we were on opposite sides of the country, so we never had played against each other. We were in the same conference, but we never played against each other because we were so far away, but we all kind of know each other and continue to try to raise that number every year.
JI: You dominated in terms of forcing fumbles this past year. What goes into that “Peanut Punch” ability to consistently strip balls away, as they call it?
TR: We worked a lot in practice through our [individual] drills, and then punching the ball when we’re pursuing on the running back, or whoever has the ball. It really just comes down to effort. As a d-lineman, if you’re always running to the ball, you have the opportunity to make those plays. I’m someone when the play’s away from me, I’m still running to the ball, and I’m trying to make the play. Getting takeaways is a big key to winning games, so it’s something I definitely try to put emphasis on.
JI: What would you say is your favorite, go-to move as a pass rusher?
TR: I like to start everything with power, so either a long arm or just a two-handed bull rush on half of a man. Going off of that, it depends on what my o-lineman is giving me. I can work in a style [that uses] finesse off my power.
JI: I was hoping you’d say the long arm; I noticed that’s one of your best moves on tape. You had the chance to participate in both the Senior Bowl and the Combine. What were those experiences like for you?
TR: Both of them were really good. It was great to be able to talk to so many teams, and get quick rundown of their schemes, and then learn it. At the Senior Bowl, you learn so much through those three days of practice and meetings and stuff. It was definitely a great experience, and it was great to compete, for sure.
JI: You’ve faced a lot of great competition in the SEC. Who’s the toughest offensive lineman you’d had to face one-on-one?
TR: I think, probably, one of the tackles from Bama [left tackle J.C. Latham]. I forget the name.
JI: What about that matchup was difficult?
TR: I just think the quarterback, Bryce Young, was very composed. We were getting a lot of hits on him early on, and he just stayed composed. He was an elite player, for sure, at quarterback.
JI: How do you spend your free time outside of football?
TR: Really just Netflix or gaming, but a lot of my time is based around football. Whether I’m working out, stretching, watching film, but other than that, just games and Netflix.
JI: What’s the last show you binged?
TR: I’m watching it right now. Snowfall is what I’m watching right now. It’s like a crime show about L.A. in the 80s, 70s.
JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?
TR: Just a disruptive player who’s going to impact games and do everything he can to win games and, eventually, win a Super Bowl. Not only [a disruptive player], but [one] who plays with relentless effort on every play.
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