Denard Robinson RB/WR Michigan #16
Size/Athleticism: Slightly undersized for a feature back at the next level. Lacks the strong, compact build of a prototypical NFL running back. An elite athlete with the ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces and extremely difficult to corral in the open field. Although he lacks a true position, he is a playmaker the ball in his hands.
Vision: One of his best assets, but he’ll need to adjust to seeing the field from a new position at the next level. Does an excellent job reading the defense and finding space to run. He is also a very patient runner who is willing to wait for holes to develop before committing.
Power: Needs to refine his running style. Too often he’s out of control and off balance which leads to fumbles and big hits. He isn’t big enough to take a pounding, so he must learn to stay lower to the ground and lower his shoulder to avoid body shots. Unless he adds weight and improves significantly in his area he won’t be a feature back in the NFL.
Speed/Agility: Among the fastest players in the draft in terms of straight-line speed. Extremely quick feet and can make guys miss even in tight spaces. He simply has a knack for squeezing through holes due to the combination of his impressive vision and agility. His skills in this area could lead to him developing into a dangerous return specialist.
Passing Game: Very limited experience as a receiver. Occasionally used as a receiver out of the backfield late in his senior year, but not enough to demonstrate any meaningful skills in this area. Only three career receptions, all as a senior.
Intangibles: Despite being a three-year starter, never developed into much of a leader at Michigan. Consistently made poor decisions with the football while playing quarterback. Never showed significant improvement in any area of his game, which raises some concern about the speed at which he could learn a new position. Reportedly willing to embrace switch to running back or receiver in the NFL.
Durability: Consistently injured throughout his career. Reckless running style leads to big hits which have knocked him out of many games, even if for just a few plays. Missed two games with an elbow injury in 2012. The majority of his injuries were minor, but the sheer number of them raises enough concerns to raise a red flag about his durability.
Comments: Robinson’s athleticism makes him worthy of a mid-round pick and he should be able to find his way on to the field at the next level. But he should be viewed as a project and shouldn’t come off the board until the 4th round or later. His NFL future will depend entirely on his willingness to commit to learning a new position. Robinson’s lack of improvement at Michigan makes me wonder just how dedicated he was on the practice field. His elite athleticism allowed him to get by in college, but he’ll be just another guy in the NFL. Unless he fully commits to learning the nuances if his new position he will quickly go by the way of Pat White and other converted college quarterbacks who failed to embrace a new position in the NFL.