Near the end of the last AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, in Arrowhead Stadium, the game was tied 20-20. The Bengals lined up to punt with 41 seconds left in the game.
It appeared the two teams would go to overtime before one of them won the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, just like the year before. Drue Chrisman’s punt, however, wasn’t struck well and was a line drive, which enabled wide receiver Skyy Moore to return it 29 yards. A penalty later, and the Chiefs were in field-goal range.
While the loss can’t be placed on Chrisman’s shoulders, the punt didn’t help. The Bengals selected a new punter in the 2023 NFL Draft out of Michigan.
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 199 lbs.
- Age: 24
- College: Michigan
- Hometown: Westerville, OH
- Experience: Rookie
Robbins signed a four-year, $3.973 million deal, which included a little over $133,000 in guarantees. His average annual salary is $993,334, and he accounts for 0.35 percent of the team’s 2023 salary cap.
Robbins, who committed to the University of Michigan in February of 2017, became the team’s starting punter as a true freshman later that fall. He was named an honorable mention to the All-Big Ten team. He actually had back surgery after his freshman year and missed all of 2018 and most of 2019. He was once again an honorable mention to the All-Big Ten team in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, he didn’t account for a single touchback with 21 fair catches, 16 of which were inside the 20-yard line.
He excels at hang time and directional punting, which makes him a good fit for Cincinnati, because Joe Burrow and the offense won’t need him to bail them out with power very often.
The Bengals selected Robbins with the last pick in the sixth round to compete with Chrisman for the team’s punter position on the final 53-man roster.
Outlook for 2023 season
In 2017, the Bengals used their fifth-round pick on Memphis kicker Jake Elliot. They then cut Elliot in favor of Randy Bullock. I don’t see that happening again. I expect Robbins to beat out incumbent punter Chrisman, especially considering Chrisman hasn’t been able to get on the field for much of training camp due to an undisclosed medical situation that had him hospitalized for a while.
Even though Chrisman has done well for the Bengals overall, and he has done amazing things for the city, what the team needs right now is a directional punter who can really drill the ball up in the air, giving the punt team plenty of time to get down the field. They won’t need to be kicking out of their own end zone that often.
Look for Robbins to be the Bengals punter in 2023 and beyond.