Photo of Denard Robinson
Drafted By: Jaguars
  • Round 5
  • Pick 2
  • Overall 135

Combine Results

Grade
70.3 ?
  • 4.43 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 36.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 123.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 7.09 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.22 SEC
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"I'm surprised he didn't go earlier. Forget about durability and size, this is a kid that's as tough as anybody I've ever seen. He's a playmaker. I don't care if he's a slot, running back or a return man. I bet you he's a gunner on punt return, too. You have to find a spot for him." -- Mike Mayock

  • 5'10" Height
  • 32 5/8" Arm Length
  • 199LBS. Weight
  • 9" Hands

Overview

It’s easy to say that Robinson has to move from quarterback to wide receiver at the next level due to a lack of accuracy. The better question is what position will suit him best in the NFL? The conversion of Antwaan Randle El (whose Big Ten quarterback rushing record Robinson broke) might be a better template for scouts to follow because his smooth running, vision and quickness could be used in the return game, at slot receiver, or in a hybrid running back/receiver position that Dexter McCluster held for Kansas City in 2011. But no matter if Robinson will be throwing or catching at the next level, at least a couple of general managers will value his athleticism enough to select him somewhere in the first two days of the draft.



Robinson, whose nickname is “Shoelace” because he plays with his shoes untied, was a four-star prospect from Florida as a dual-threat quarterback (4,784 yards passing, 1,132 rushing in his career) and track star (finished third in the Class 4A 100-meter dash at the 2008 Florida state meet). He played in all 12 games at quarterback as a true freshman (14-for-31, 188 yards, two TD, four INT) in concert with starter Tate Forcier, with one start at running back (69 rushes, 351 yards, five TD). Forcier attempted a pass to Robinson in 2009, but it fell incomplete.



Robinson took over the starting role from Forcier (who eventually transferred) in 2010, and won the Big Ten Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association of America All-American notice (as a running back) for his play. He became the first player in NCAA history to throw for more than 2,500 yards (2,570) and rush for 1,500 yards (1,702) in a single season, ranked second in the country in all-purpose yards, second in rushing yards, and 20th in the nation in pass efficiency (62.5 percent completion rate, 18 TD, 11 INT) while leading the Wolverines to the Gator Bowl. Statistically, Robinson’s second year as a starter in 2011 wasn’t quite as successful (1,176 rushing yards, 2,173 passing), but he was named honorable mention all-conference by league coaches and was responsible for more touchdowns (20 passing, 16 rushing against 18 and 14 in 2010) and helped the team to an 11-2 record, which included an upset of Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.



For his senior season, nagging injuries to Robinson allowed Devin Gardner to step into the quarterback role. As a result, the Michigan staff began using Denard in more creative ways, prepping him for his future as a multi-purpose threat in the NFL. He finished the year with 177 rushing attempts for 1266 yards (a career high 7.2 yards per carry), ending the season with a strong performance as the team’s lead running back in their bowl game against South Carolina (23-100-1 TD)

Analysis

Strengths

Possesses elite change of direction, acceleration, and top-end speed. Track speed makes it very difficult for defenders to get the angle on him once he’s in the open field. Sidesteps breaking down or penetrating linebackers in the hole with quick feet, heads outside. Also flows through creases up the middle; deadly when defenses are spread in the red zone. Thick lower body with strong legs. Spins out of tackles in space, has balance to continue on for big gains. Very patient runner who reads blocks like a veteran, following linemen on zone and stretch plays. Not contacts-shy, will try to get the extra yard as a ball-carriers, often falling forward as he’s being wrapped up. As a passer, he can stretch the field with a strong arm, displays some touch on fades and over the top of defenses, and find open receivers on the run. Accurate in the short-to-medium passing game, especially to stationary targets. Usually operates from the shotgun, but does come out from under center. Has confidence in his arm to throw into traffic. Escapes the pocket in a hurry, but keeps his eyes up to flip the ball to a receiver when trapped by rushing defenders. Generally makes the right decision in the zone-read option, though he will make an occasional risky pitch or hand off when he should have kept the ball.

Weaknesses

Does not have a proven pro position. Must prove he can catch NFL throws/punts/kickoffs, take a beating from pro defenders as a ballcarrier, and learn how to pass protect. Does not power through tackles due to upright running style. Ball security is an issue because of his slight build and willingness to spin out of tackles; eight fumbles in 2011. Lacks the size teams usually look for in their quarterbacks, and the accuracy in the more difficult timing patterns that pro passers must complete. Throws passes up for grabs, ending with mixed results based on the talent of the defense. NFL defenders are more likely to prevent him from seeing the field and wrap him up in the backfield when he hesitates to pull the trigger. Nagging injuries over the course of his career, and he’s had an extensive rushing workload, even for a quarterback.

NFL Comparison

Antwaan Randle El

Bottom Line

The star dual-purpose quarterback has proven to be too erratic a passer to follow Seneca Wallace’s path to the pros. However, he Robinson could work himself into a slot receiver or hybrid running back/receiver and return specialist role due to his elite straight-line speed and elusiveness in the open field –- though no one knows as of yet whether he is capable of catching an NFL ball consistently. He’s at his best with the ball in his hands, though, and most of his time at Michigan has been spent in a quasi-running back role. If he wants to make the transition, and shows strong hands in workouts, the sky is the limit on his draft stock, and he could go as early as the second round.
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Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.

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