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Editor's Note: This feature on Falcons Director of College Scouting Anthony Robinson is the second story in's "Meet the Scouts" series.

The series provides insight into key members of the Falcons' player personnel department, and behind the scenes looks at how the Falcons discovered some of their top players.

By Kris Rhim

Nineteen years ago, Eric DeCosta's office phone would ring weekly with a Baltimore area code number he did not recognize.

One day he decided to pick up.

On the other end was a 22-year-old car salesman in Baltimore named Anthony Robinson, who told DeCosta, then the Ravens director of college scouting, that he was interested in becoming a football scout. Impressed by Robinson's personality and conversation, DeCosta invited Robinson to his office at the Ravens' headquarters to talk more in person.


Robinson, treated the conversation like an interview, showing up in a full suit, tie and dress shoes.

Robinson, now the Falcons director of college scouting, was making six figures as a Jeep car salesman, but the job wasn't satisfying. Football had been a part of his life since he was a child. Robinson played throughout high school and briefly at Morgan State University, and without football, he felt a void.

"I thought that was interesting," now-Ravens general manager DeCosta said with a laugh, about Robinson wanting to leave his well-paying job, "but I liked him. He had some personality. He had a quiet confidence about him."


Still, there was an issue. Robinson did not have a college degree and did not have any other experience in scouting. There was not much DeCosta could do.

So DeCosta gave Robinson his business card and told him to keep in touch if anything changed.

In the weeks following that meeting, Robinson left his job and moved back to his home state of Florida, where he enrolled in community college and got a job at Leon High School coaching defensive backs. After earning his associate's degree, Robinson transferred to Florida State and became an assistant with the football team working with receivers.

During this time, Robinson kept in touch with DeCosta and, in the summer of 2006, DeCosta offered Robinson an internship in the Ravens' player personnel department. The two months Robinson spent in Baltimore confirmed that scouting was his passion.

And he left lasting impressions on DeCosta and others in Baltimore.

"Everybody wants to work for a football team," DeCosta said. "Everybody thinks they can do the job, but very few people wanna work to get the job and do all the little things to put them in a position to get the job. I've discussed Anthony's story so many times with younger people about his resilience and persistence, and I'm really proud of what he's done.

"When people ask me how to do it, I point to Anthony."

Fifteen years later, Robinson has helped scout Falcons stars like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Grady Jarrett and many others.

And with Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith embracing that the Falcons roster will change significantly in the coming years, Robinson and his staff's role in evaluating players is as important as it has ever been.

When Robinson joined Atlanta in 2008 as a scouting assistant, he did everything from the college and pro levels. From picking up a player from the airport and bringing him to the facility for a tryout to studying film for hours.

"Whatever needs to be done, you're doing it," Robinson said with a smile.

The experience helped Robinson understand the volume of work that goes into evaluating players. After three years as an assistant, Robinson was promoted to Mid-Atlantic scout in 2011. He was responsible for places like North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and parts of Georgia.

After two years in that role, Robinson quickly worked up the personnel department ranks. First, he was elevated to the Southeastern regional scout, then Eastern regional scout, which is responsible for the eastern half of the United States, before being promoted to director of college scouting in 2019.

The Falcons have had four coaches over Robinson's 13 years, all with different styles and schemes, which makes the approach for scouts different. Players they may have liked for a prior coaching staff may not fit a new coach's vision or scheme.

With Fontenot and Smith in their first seasons, Robinson and his staff had to make those adjustments coming into this season. Still, the changes are not drastic; it is as simple as adjusting a grocery list.

"You want to know what you're shopping for, right?" Robinson said. "When you go to the grocery store, you have a list. On your list, you have the kind of scheme we're running, and you wanna make sure you have a guy that fits your scheme because not every guy fits your scheme."

While Robinson admitted that some players are so talented that they fit any scheme, the point remains the same. For Robinson and the rest of the scouts, the most critical adjustment with a new regime is securing a clear understanding of the coach and general manager's vision to scout the best players to make that a reality.

"Everything's been great here with [Arthur Smith] and his staff and identifying what we want in terms of scheme, fit, type of player we want on the team, on the field, in the locker room," Robinson said. "And with Terry [Fontenot], it's the same thing.

"Maybe your grading scale changes in terms of how you grade players, but other than that, man, the process is the process."

Robinson has helped scout and find some players who blossomed into superstars in Atlanta. First-round picks like Jones and Ridley, and late-round gems like Jarrett, a fifth-round pick in 2015, who made Robinson say, "Holy S*" when he saw him dominating against Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl.

But, out of all of those players, one sticks out for Robinson: Devonta Freeman.

Freeman burst onto the scene in 2015, when he rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. From there, he became the Falcons starting running back and finished with 1,634 yards from scrimmage, including 1,056 on the ground. Freeman was a Pro-Bowler that season and was named second-team All-Pro.

Scouts typically look for running backs close to 6-feet, weighing around 210 pounds with 4.4 speed. Freeman, 5-foot-8, just over 200 pounds, with a 4.58 40-yard-dash coming out of Florida State in 2014, didn't quite fit the model.

Still, Robinson saw potential in Freeman.

"When you turn on the tape, it's like the viciousness he ran with," Robinson said, "the fire he had as a runner, his toughness, his vision, his ability to make people miss. Not only that, he also had really good hands out of the backfield.

"So I'm looking at him [and thinking] here's a guy that's gonna do it. He's gotta do it because of his heart, passion for the game, and then his skill set. It's like yeah, this guy is gonna be a guy."

Ten months of the year, starting in May and ending with the NFL draft — June and a few weeks in July, are scouts' vacation time — Robinson and his staff spend more hours than he can count looking for the next Falcon stars.

Talking to college coaches, high school coaches, teammates, you name it, to find the next Freemans and Jarretts. The process is long and does not involve much glory for the scouts, who mainly stay behind the scenes.

Still, that process excites Robinson as much as it did when he first began as an intern in Baltimore, and he is eager to continue to evolve with the Falcons.

"I've been here for a long time, and this organization has given me the opportunity to grow," Robinson said. "Hopefully, I can continue to move up. I've had the opportunity to learn from a lot of different people here. Previous GMs, previous head coaches, Rich McKay, I've had a chance to meet Arthur [Blank] these last couple years, so I'm proud of the fact that I've had this opportunity to grow."

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