Bears general manager Ryan Poles was practical with his first two picks of the NFL draft — Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker. But while Gordon and Brisker come with dependability, Miami of Ohio defensive end Dominique Robinson comes with the most intrigue.
A former dual-threat quarterback who played wide receiver for two years at Miami before switching to defensive end in 2020, the 6-5, 253-pound Robinson has unique pass-rushing potential. It’s up to the Bears coaching staff to bring it out of him.
“It’s pretty neat when you think about it,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “When you look at these defensive linemen who can turn the corner, it’s always about pointing at the quarterback — your hips, your knees, your toes. You have to be flexible to be able to do that.
“The great ones have always had that. He has that. How far that can go, I don’t know. But he does have some of the attributes that you need to have.”
Robinson is getting his first introduction to the NFL at this week’s rookie mini-camp. He just has more to learn than many of the others. He’s played defensive end for one full season. He said he feels like a defensive end.
“I do. This is something I’ve been molded into over these last three years and I’m looking to be great at this position,” he said.
Robinson said teammates planted the seed for the change from wide receiver to defense when they saw him taking a picture with Akron defensive end Jamal Davis, a former high school teammate of Robinson’s in Canton, Ohio who was drafted by the Chargers in 2019. A glance at Ohio State All-America edge rusher Chase Young did the rest.
“So that was in the back of my head and I’m going through the 2019 season at wide receiver — it wasn’t going my way,” Robinson said. “I love watching college football, so I’m watching Chase Young just run around people, so I’m like, ‘Man, if I can’t do that, there’s something wrong with me.’ That’s what kind of pushed me to that.”
Ja’Tyre Carter’s inspiration
Rookie guard Ja’Tyre Carter, a seventh-round draft pick from Southern, has special inspiration in his quest for a roster spot — his late brother Orthello, who was killed in a car accident when Ja’Tyre was in high school.
“He’s just in my heart everywhere I go,” Carter said. “He’s right there. He’s got a special place.”
He said Orthello, who died less than a week before graduating high school, was the biggest influence on his football career and a good role model.
“He was a quiet guy. He was cool with everybody,” Ja’Tyre said. “He stayed out of the way. He was never in trouble. He was a good kid. It was just unfortunate that had to happen.”
Asked what he learned from his brother, Ja’Tyre said, “Just being a great person, man.”
Mr. Outside — for now
Gordon has potential as an outside or slot corner, but defensive coordinator Alan Williams said Gordon will start on the outside.
“We’re just going to let him dow what he does and see how he shapes out … and ten we’ll see how much he can do and how much we can push him,” Williams said. “As of right now, he’ll be an outside corner.”