Draft Watch: The Curious Case of Denard Robinson

One of the more interesting names that many are following during the Senior Bowl this week in Mobile is Denard Robinson, the Rich Rodriguez’s spread quarterback who’s transitioning to wide receiver.  While it’s hard to imagine he’d catch on immediately, it looks like the projections that he might go as high as the second round seems to be softening a bit based on how his week has gone.

The Senior Bowl is less about rising and sliding, but more about confirming what scouts might have thought, and since WR is a new position for Robinson, there’s been something of a blank slate going into this week.

That said, it’s been a little bumpy.

Robinson hurt himself by not being available for contact drills Monday and Tuesday due to the lingering effects of an elbow injury he suffered in October. When he got the full-go for Wednesday and Thursday, he looked uncomfortable in most phases of his new position.

His routes are particularly clumsy, and he isn’t coming out of his breaks explosively.

“It’s a new position for him,” said Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, who has faced Robinson several times this week. “He’s athletic, so he’s going to adapt naturally. He just needs repetitions. The more reps you get, the better you’re going to be. That’s the biggest thing.

“He didn’t catch it on me, but he’s cool though. He’s going to be good.”

It’s good to hear one of his peers say he thinks he has promise, but it sounds like officials see his willingness to learn.

“He has a lot of confidence in his ability but at the same time he understands that he doesn’t know everything that he needs to know about playing the wide receiver position,” Allen said. “But he’s very willing to learn. That’s the biggest thing, is guys understanding and being willing to put forth the effort to try to learn the position.”

And that’s the thing, it’s going to be vastly different than what he’s used to, and Doug Farrar wrote about the distinction in speed for Shutdown.

Few question Robinson’s athleticism — after all, it’s the same trait that allowed him to make play after astounding play on Saturday afternoons. But there’s track speed, and there’s receiver speed, and right now, Robinson doesn’t know the difference. The 4.4-40 field burner actually looks slow on a number of routes, because his cuts aren’t generally quick and he tends to drift a lot. Outside of the standard go route packages, he might engineer the occasional quick cut, or meander inside after clearing a safety as a midfield mark. But there is precious little evidence of the route concepts he’ll need to succeed and survive in the NFL.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

And that’s the thing about whoever takes Robinson, they might be getting a talent, but they might need to be patient to see it come to fruition.  He certainly has the physical skills, it will come down to whether or not he can put it together for whatever team winds up drafting him.