Denard Robinson is an incredible athlete; you won’t get any arguments there. But is the Michigan quarterback, well, a quarterback in the NFL? That’s a different debate, which will affect Robinson’s draft position in 2013. Those far and wide have taken the opportunity to debate Robinson’s future in the wake of the 2012 NFL Draft.
This much everyone can agree on: The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Robinson will be an intriguing NFL prospect after he completes his senior year under center for the Wolverines, for whom he will be a Heisman Trophy candidate. As a junior in 2011, he threw for 2,173 yards and 20 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Robinson added 16 scores on the ground for Michigan, which returned to prominence with a win over Ohio State and Sugar Bowl victory to top it off.
Robinson himself says he plans to be a QB at the next level but, despite the production that he put forth as a signal-caller, ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said that there’s no gray area for Robinson; he simply needs to move out from under center.
“In terms of Denard, he’s going to have to be that slot receiver, return man,” Kiper said Monday, according to AnnArbor.com. “That’s going to be his role, he’s not going to be a quarterback, no chance of that.
“He might be a ‘Wildcat’ quarterback, but that’s about it. He’s going to have to have a position change.”
This wasn’t a new position for Kiper, who already had said that Robinson could be the top WR prospect heading into the 2013 draft. The only problem for Robinson? He has never played wide receiver.
Granted, the shifty Wolverine has the athleticism to do so; AnnArbor.com said that his 40-dash time in high school was 4.32 seconds. To put that in perspective, the top performers in the 40 at the 2012 NFL Draft Combine – Travis Benjamin of Miami (FL), Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech and Chris Owusu of Stanford – all clocked in at 4.36.
“I’m going to tell you this, I never caught a ball before. I’ve always been behind the center,” Robinson last year, according to AnnArbor.com. “I never caught a ball during a game.”
That hasn’t deterred some from thinking that he could learn fast – no pun intended.
In fact, The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre has Robinson going 13th overall to the Carolina Panthers in his 2013 Mock NFL Draft. That’s despite his analysis that Robinson is “no NFL QB.” He admitted that the pick was for fun but suggested that he couldn’t help but slot the athletic Robinson to the Panthers, whom already have a bevy of athletes – including rising second-year QB Cam Newton.
Robinson could play anywhere at the next level, including a slot wide receiver like former Indiana QB Antwaan Randle El – his height dictates that – a scat back like Dexter McCluster of the Kansas City Chiefs (pictured), who gets the ball in a myriad of ways, a kick returner like former NFL star Dante Hall and “Wildcat QB” as Kiper suggested.
Given Robinson’s wild inaccuracy for Michigan and his tendency to throw interceptions, he would almost certainly go undrafted if he sticks to his current position. But as a slot receiver, running back, Wildcat QB and return man combination? Well, that’s a different story.
One thing’s for sure: Robinson will be a major risk for whichever team decides to select him when you consider he’s always been a quarterback and his stature that’s led to many injuries on the college gridiron.
We see him going in the second or third round like McCluster (36th overall in 2010) and Kentucky’s Randall Cobb (64th overall in 2011) but, if there’s one thing we know, it’s that NFL scouts covet speed over almost anything else.
And if Robinson runs a 4.3 40 at the combine, all bets are off.