There was no one player that was more exciting to watch over his collegiate career than that of Denard Robinson. The man they call “Shoe lace” set NCAA records for his rushing statistics while playing for University of Michigan Wolverines. Robinson is the single season record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback at 1,538 in 2012, also making him the only quarterback to pass and rush for 1,500 yards in the same season. On top of his single season marks, Robinson also holds the career rushing record for a quarterback with 4,495 yards breaking Pat White’s mark during the final game of the season. As most would think, Robinson would be ideal as the next read-option quarterback. However he will be making the move to wide receiver, the same move made by Brad Smith and Antwaan Randle El.
|Height||Weight||40 time||Vertical Jump|
|5’10″||199 lbs||4.43 seconds||36.5 inches|
Robinson has the tools to be a great slot receiver. It is tough to gauge the catching aspect of his game due to limited playing time at the position. He has shown exceptional abilities when Robinson gets into the open field. This will translate very well in terms of yards after the catch. He has tremendous vision with the ball in his hands, looking for creases as he makes his cuts to get up the field. A real advantage with his new position will be when Robinson takes the ball on end arounds, screen passes and reverses.
Route running will help Robinson establish himself as weapon in the NFL. While as I indicated before there isn’t much film to determine his skill level as a route runner, however he is a former quarterback. Normally they understand reading defenses at a much higher level than most receivers. They know pre-snap reads in running hot routes and weaknesses in the secondary to sit down in the zone. What remains to be seen is if Robinson will round off routes or run them crisply.
Elusiveness is going to be huge key with a team making a decision on Robinson, as he will most likely have to contribute on special teams. With limited time at receiver, punt returns and kickoff returns need to be a main focus. This coupled with his vision as stated above, should make him a legitimate threat in the return game.
The main aspect in his game that will hurt Robinson as he moves on the NFL is his lack of experience at the wide receiver position. He is very raw in terms of his route running ability. Can Robinson run routes crisply? Does he understand when to cut off his route due to coverage? Will he know when to come back to the ball to help his quarterback? These are all questions that can’t be answered at this time but we shall soon know the answers as he goes through mini camps and OTA workouts.
As it pertains to route running, Robinson will need to work on his physicality against cornerbacks. There is no question the physical and mental toughness he has in my mind. However he will need to fight off jams and the cornerback attempting to knock him off his route. Working on fighting with his hands and footwork should be a focus for his wide receivers coach.
When watching the limited film available of him playing the wide receiver, the one thing I kept questioning, much like Mike Mayock of NFL Network was how are his hands? He will struggle with drops early on, that is just part of the progression from the position change. This will impact him in the return game as seen at the Senior Bowl, as well as developing trust from the signal caller.
Denard Robinson is as dynamic a player as there is in the NFL Draft, however his experience is a huge question mark. None the less, because of the potential in him will have many general managers ready to jump on the opportunity to grab him. The draft grade on Robinson is around a fourth round selection, with an opportunity to sneak into the late third round. You shouldn’t expect him to still be on the board for day three of the draft.