Michigan Football: Where Does Wolverines Star Denard Robinson Fit in the NFL?

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIDecember 26, 2012

Versatility and athleticism are Denard Robinson's strengths.

There is little doubt that a few NFL teams would take a chance on him once his illustrious career with the Michigan Wolverines comes to an end New Year's Day against the South Carolina Gamecocks.


Probably not. That ship has sailed. 

Running back? No, not that, either. He's not out of the position's size range at 6'0" and 197 pounds, but there are questions about his durability. 

A popular thought has been that Robinson would be an excellent kick returner. He has 4.3-speed and can explode into higher gear after gear as he gallops down the field. The Wolverines senior could probably even handle slot receiver duties. 

But what about defense? Could Robinson do that? 

Former Dallas Cowboys GM Gil Brandt recently told CBS:

I’d draft him to be a cornerback. A quarterback never wants to be told he’s going to have to play another position, but I don’t think he can play quarterback in the NFL. I do know teams are always looking for cornerbacks, and I think Robinson could do it because of his quickness and speed. But he’d have to want to do it to make it work.

Obviously, Robinson's right elbow will come into play—is it good to go, or is damage still present after Robinson initially injured it during a 23-9 loss to Nebraska? 

Athletes like Robinson only come around every so often. He'll play Sundays, but the issue, of course, is which position.  


Pros and Cons of Playing CB

Robinson isn't known for his ability to take hits. In fact, he's been rattled more than a few times in college while attempting to evade defenders. 

Now, imagine him trying to guard—in theory, of course—someone like Lions star wideout Calvin Johnson, a 6'5", 236-pound physical threat who is nearly impossible for most corners to corral. 

Robinson has the speed, but he doesn't have the strength right now to bring down the Megatrons of the NFL. 

As a GM, part of Brandt's job was to evaluate talent. He says Robinson would be a potential defensive back in his world. Unfortunately, in the real world, Robinson may not have much of a chance when going head-to-head with elite receivers. 

Robinson may not be cut out for rigors of fighting off husky receivers and the occasional tight end.


Robinson Could Be Next Devin Hester

His speed alone is enough for NFL scouts to notice. Robinson is one of the fastest men in college sports. Also a track star, Robinson would bring an electrifying presence to any NFL special teams unit. 

On the surface, Robinson could easily be compared to Chicago Bears kickoff specialist Devin Hester, who's also played receiver a time or two. At 5'11" and 190 pounds, Hester is nearly identical to Robinson in size. 

Robinson could flourish in a role similar to Hester's—maybe a little less action at receiver, though. 


The Verdict

Doubters have always been there for Robinson. He'd never be more than a gimmick-type player, they said. A successful college career was forecast, but playing in the NFL—never that. Especially at quarterback. 

Well, most of Robinson's naysayers had a point. The whole argument of him playing quarterback in the NFL shouldn't have been an argument in the first place—he doesn't have an NFL-caliber arm, and he's far from the prototypes like Indianapolis' Andrew Luck.

And just because he's mobile, there's no guarantee that Robinson would develop into anything like Washington's Robert Griffin III, who has an accurate arm to back up an incredible set of wheels. 

Coach Rich Rodriguez recruited Robinson for a reason: He wanted the next Pat White, and he got that plus more. Robinson did exactly what White did for West Virginia in terms of individual production. In fact, Robinson did it a little better, with a little more style. 

White was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. That was it. 

Robinson could end up something like closer to Hester than anything. It's unlikely he'll sweep the NFL like Griffin III has, and it's also unlikely that he'll fade away like White. 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81


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