After captivating with his legs, Denard Robinson's NFL chances hinge on his hands
Denard Robinson hasn't thrown a pass in a game since Oct. 27.
And he won't in the NFL, either, according to ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Kiper continues to say Robinson could rise as high as the second round of April's draft. But to do so, he'll have to switch positions -- probably to receiver and returner, although he could be a situational back as well -- and show those skills on the postseason circuit of all-star games, the combine and Michigan's pro day.
Until then, Robinson's draft positioning will remain a mystery.
"It's not going to change, because there's going to that unknown about can he be a true slot receiver/return man?" Kiper said. "Now the pro day, the combine, that will certainly help.
"Obviously there's a lot of people hoping he goes down to Mobile, Ala., and plays in that Senior Bowl and does what Antwaan Randle El did coming out of Indiana as a quarterback -- goes there and shows he can catch the football, can return some punts, can do some things that way, that allow him to become Randle El, become a second-round pick."
Robinson missed two games after a Nebraska player stepped on him, damaging the ulnar nerve in his throwing elbow. He returned to the lineup for the final two games of the regular season, though, rotating between tailback, receiver and quarterback (although he hasn't thrown).
That gives him tape at positions he could play in the NFL, and may help quell some of the doubt regarding his utility in the NFL. His role for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina has not yet been defined, although it likely won't depart much from the past two games.
Robinson will have one final shot at impressing scouts at positions other than quarterback.
"Hopefully, it does (help)," Robinson said recently. "Getting on the field is automatically going to help you. If you're making plays, you can't hide that. You can't hide a playmaker."
Robinson has started three seasons at Michigan, racking up a school-record 10,669 yards and 91 touchdowns. His greatest strength has been his big-play ability, especially on the ground. He already broke Randle El's Big Ten record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
That athleticism translates to the NFL, even if his position doesn't.
"We know he has tremendous speed, a tremendous burst, we know he's a tough kid, we know he can run with the ball in his hands, you can put him in the backfield," Kiper said. "He could be a situational back, you can put him in the slot, in the wing, you can put him in the return game. You can get him the ball in space in a variety of ways.
"I think as long as he shows the ability to catch the ball effectively, he's got a chance to be a second-round draft choice."
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