Jalen Robinette looked like a player set to be at worst a Day 3 pick entering draft week, but after a Department of Defense 11th-hour ruling, the standout Air Force wide receiver went undrafted. The reversal of a policy that allowed Navy’s Keenan Reynolds a path toward the Ravens’ roster as a rookie meant Robinette and fellow military academy-developed prospects could not be drafted.
But the Bills are taking a look at the yards-per-catch dynamo as part of their rookie camp, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. One of 25 rookies the Bills are examining this weekend, Robinette may well have to wait until the 2019 season if this Buffalo setup ends up working out.
The Eagles also invited Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer to their rookie camp, and the Cardinals extended the same opportunity to linebacker Ryan Watson, per Jhabvala. Both of those rookie camps are also unfolding this weekend.
The new policy, similar to the one that required former Air Force (and current Falcons) lineman Ben Garland to serve two years before joining the 2012 Broncos, would force these talents to serve for 24 months before being eligible to pursue a professional sports career. Garland signed with the 2010 Broncos as a UDFA and was placed on the team’s reserve/military list before returning two years later.
However, Jhabvala reports that Robinette’s agent, David Lisko, is attempting to get the receiver and the rest of this class of military academy athletes grandfathered in under the old D.O.D. policy, since that’s the one the athletes were operating under this offseason. These athletes would need to have a professional contract to be eligible for the Ready Reserve program, which allows for the delay of service time. Teams at the most keep a few rookie-tryout players out of the dozens generally invited, so the trio has an uphill battle this weekend.
That said, someone like Robinette could be appealing since he was a projected draft pick. The 6-foot-3 target averaged 27.4 yards per catch — en route to 959 yards and six receiving touchdowns — last season.