ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Kiper: Sun Devils LB Merlin Robertson a top-5 ILB for 2021 NFL Draft

May 16, 2020, 5:45 PM | Updated: May 17, 2020, 9:11 pm
Linebacker Merlin Robertson #8 of the Arizona State Sun Devils catches an interception intended for...
Linebacker Merlin Robertson #8 of the Arizona State Sun Devils catches an interception intended for running back Darrius Smith #20 of the Arizona Wildcats during the second half of the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson’s standout freshman campaign in 2018 was just the start of a college career that’s getting him nationwide attention.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. listed Robertson as the fourth-best inside linebacker in the class of 2021. He was the only one in the top five from the Pac-12.

Robertson had five sacks his first season in college, getting 77 tackles that year with 8.5 tackles for loss; all three of those numbers led the Sun Devils. He also had a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He was the first ASU freshman since 2001 to lead the team in tackles.

That production led to Robertson being named Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

In 2019, as a sophomore, he had just 0.5 sacks and three tackles for loss, but still made 64 tackles. In each year, he had three passes defensed and one interception.

The decline in numbers doesn’t seem to be a concern for Kiper, who ranked Robertson behind fellow inside linebackers Alabama’s Dylan Moses, North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt and Auburn’s K.J. Britt. Georgia’s Monty Rice completed the top five.

The outlook for Robertson’s stock in 2020 is made uncertain both by how the coronavirus pandemic could affect the college football season and with the change of defensive coordinator at ASU. Danny Gonzales moved on to be the head coach at New Mexico, while Marvin Lewis and Antonio Pierce became co-defensive coordinators at Arizona State.

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