The Carolina Panthers have spent all of their picks in the 2020 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball, and they spent their fifth-round pick on one of the more intriguing prospects in this class. With the No. 152 overall pick in the draft, the Panthers selected former XFL safety Kenny Robinson.
Robinson played his college ball at West Virginia, and recorded 123 total tackles, seven interceptions and seven passes defensed in two seasons. After accruing first team All-Big 12 honors in his sophomore season, Robinson was expelled from West Virginia after an incident involving academic fraud. Instead of trying to work through those issues with the university or going through with the transfer process, Robinson elected to join the XFL.
Then 20 years old, Robinson was selected by the St. Louis BattleHawks and became the first XFL player with college eligibility. Another reason he chose to play in the XFL was that his mother was diagnosed with cancer.
"It was kind of difficult because my mom, she wanted me to go back to school right away," Robinson told Sporting News about his decision. "But in my eyes, I felt like she needed help, and my family needed help, so I was going back and forth with that a lot. But I feel like I ended up making the best decision."
Robinson ended up starting in all five games for the BattleHawks and recorded 21 combined tackles, one sack, two interceptions and two passes defensed. After recording a sack and an interception in Week 5 against the D.C. Defenders, he was nominated for the XFL's Star of the Week award. The COVID-19 pandemic cut the XFL's inaugural season short, so Robinson again changed course and entered the 2020 NFL Draft.
Robinson is of course not the only XFL player first-year head coach Matt Rhule was high on. The PanthersP.J. Walker to a two-year deal after an incredible stint with the Houston Roughnecks. The former Temple signal-caller won all five of his XFL starts, and completed 65% of his throws for a league-leading 1,338 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions.