Senior Bowl  

 

With dad behind him -- and evaluating him -- Robiskie aims to please

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MOBILE, Ala. -- This is an interesting pocket of time in father-son relationships as it relates to pro -- and soon-to-be-pro -- football.

Larry Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis-based print and radio journalist, will sit in the Raymond James Stadium press box next weekend and watch his namesake play wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals in his and the franchise's first Super Bowl.

Former NFL linebacker Clay Matthews has spent time at the Under Armour Senior Bowl this week, watching his son, also named Clay and also a linebacker from USC, try to further the family pedigree.

Yet neither father is in the position of Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, who's here to evaluate the position that his son, Brian, plays. So, Terry also must evaluate Brian. Terry must watch and submit reports on the Ohio State standout to Falcons management for analysis.

Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
Part father and part talent evaluator, Falcons receivers coach Terry Robiskie believes his son, Brian, is a "10" as an NFL prospect.

If any other teams want to do their due diligence, Terry could be asked questions about his son as a person and a prospect.

"He's a 10," the elder Robiskie said of where he'd rate Brian on a scale with no higher ranking. "He's a 10. If anybody asks me, he's a 10."

It's an honest opinion, Terry said. Still, someone else might want to back up his assessment.

"People that know me, that have knowledge of me over the years, know my lifestyle," Terry said. "All my friends know I've never had a beer. I am 54, and I had my first glass of wine when I turned 50. They know my qualities and how I live. They know my son was raised the same way. A background check for him is a waste of time. They might do it because they've got to do it, but with Brian, it is a waste of time."

Pride is the ultimate paternal instinct, especially for a football lifer when his nurtured offspring blows past him running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, then hauls down a pass with a defender dragging. At the same time, Brian, like sons do, is prone to impress, which is why he's making a mark at this pre-draft all-star game, where NFL scouts and coaches don't just break down how a prospect plays, but how he learns, watches film and carries himself.

Brian, an Academic All-American, has been very smooth in workouts, working some out of the slot, which he didn't do much at Ohio State. His size (6-foot-3, 207) makes him an easy target, and he has caught everything thrown his way. NFL Network's Mike Mayock considers Brian one of the top five senior wide receivers in the draft.

This is the opportunity that he has worked for, with a guiding -- not assertive -- hand from his father.

"The type of player that I am and everything about how I prepare for games, how I play on the field, everything comes for him," Brian said. "As far as training, running routes, studying film, he's taught me how to do everything. It's an advantage a lot of guys don't have, and I'm very blessed for that."


The NFL Network covers Senior Bowl week from start to finish. Here is the program schedule:

Senior Bowl practice:
NFL Network broadcasts the twice-daily workouts on Tuesday-Thursday starting at 10:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.

Path to the Draft:
Daily at 8 p.m. from Tuesday-Thursday, NFL Network shows highlights of practice and gives analysis of which players are making names for themselves.

The 2009 Senior Bowl:
Total Access starts at 6:30 p.m. with the pregame show, followed at 7 p.m. by the game telecast.

* All times eastern

Terry wasn't a smothering father. He was too busy coaching other people's sons to be overbearing. Brian and his brother, Andrew, an offensive lineman at SMU, took up the sport largely because it was what their father lived, but they didn't dishonor the game by playing it just because he did.

They worked hard at it. They received tips and coaching from Terry, a no-nonsense man who doesn't tolerate much but production as a coach. However, they were allowed to live and learn without constant, forceful guidance.

"He does everything he can to stay off to the side and watch and let me feel my way around," Brian said. "He knows if I have questions, I will come to him. He's really good about letting me kind of figure out as much as I can on my own."

On and off the football field.

One of the biggest decisions of Brian's life came this time last year, when, after catching 55 passes for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Buckeyes as a junior, he contemplated applying for inclusion to the 2008 NFL Draft.

"I was going back and forth, and when I made that decision, I wanted to be comfortable with it," Brian said.

Brian's numbers dipped as a senior. He caught 13 fewer passes (42) for 400 fewer yards (535) and three fewer touchdowns (eight). Still, his body of work (127 career receptions, 1,899 yards and 24 touchdowns) shows a reliability and production that tend to be coveted by talent evaluators.

"Coming back did a tremendous amount for me," Brian said. "We had a great year, but obviously, we didn't throw the ball as much -- we had some trouble completing passes. We changed up our offense a little bit. I know people thought I was frustrated, but I wasn't. There was no question I had a lot of growth, mentally and physically. I feel a lot better coming out now."

Brian has been compared to current Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins, a 6-4, 215-pounder who was a first-round pick out of Ohio State in 2004. Jenkins, like Brian Robiskie, is a possession-type, third-down and red-zone threat who doesn't mind mixing it up as a blocker.

Terry Robiskie, who coaches Jenkins, said his son might be better.

Mayock's rankings
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has ranked the top five prospects at every position. Who does he have rated as the top wide receiver in this year's class?
» See the list ...

"Same body frame, runs the same way, but he might have better hands than Jenks," Terry said.

As good as Terry feels about his son, he knows there will be scouting reports that won't list Brian as a "10." Flaws or shortcomings will be brought up, as will strengths. That's just reality. For father and son, being around the game for so long, they're prepared for whatever comes.

"The NFL is a tough business, and you can't dwell on anything, good or bad," Terry said. "He knows."

Brian said he doesn't feel any pressure at the Senior Bowl under his dad's watchful eyes. That's nothing new. Plus, the Falcons really don't need wide receivers. Showcasing himself for receiver-needy teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants is more crucial.

"I played primarily a lot on the outside in college, and the GMs, coaches and a lot of the people here that have questions can see me working some of those inside routes and doing some certain things," said Brian, whose North squad is coached by the Cincinnati Bengals' staff. "They're trying to give coaches and scouts the opportunity to see how they work."

After practices, meetings and film breakdown, players will interview with teams, but Brian and Terry Robiskie have found time to share. That, Brian said, has been the best part of this week's experience.

"He knows that I have business to handle, and he has his own business," Brian said. "He's been coming to this for years, so he knows how this goes. I do think this is a little bit different for him, though. We don't get a lot of time to spend together, and we're taking the time to do that."

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