Michigan's Denard Robinson projected by analyst as high NFL pick, but not at quarterback
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
But that's exactly what one prominent NFL Draft expert projects him to do at the next level.
“I think you look at him as a projection,” ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. “You can make an argument that, going into next year, he’s either the No. 2 or No. 1 most highly-rated wide receiver option, and he hasn’t even played the position. That’s 'cause a lot of the receivers this year that were projected from the junior class were coming out.
"It’s left you with a minimal number of players that are going to be projecting super high, and Denard would be one of those guys projecting as a wide receiver/slot guy.”
Although Robinson sometimes lined up in the backfield or at wideout this past season, with backup Devin Gardner at quarterback, he never was targeted in the passing game.Robinson led the Big Ten in total offense the past two years as a quarterback, but Kiper said he definitely "is not a quarterback" at the next level.
Robinson recently requested to have his pro stock evaluated by the NFL Draft advisory board. He announced last week he intended to return to Michigan for his senior season.
Former teammate Kevin Koger told AnnArbor.com that Robinson stayed in school in part because he still does not want to change positions at the next level, even though he's projected higher at other positions. In fact, NFLDraftScout.com rates Robinson as the No. 4 tailback for next year’s draft.
Robinson rushed for 1,176 yards this past season, and he rushed for an NCAA quarterback record 1,702 in 2010.
His passing remains a work in progress, though. He has a strong arm and a flair for the dramatics — receiver Junior Hemingway averaged 20.6 yards per catch, third most in the country — but his accuracy and decision making remain suspect.
He completed 55 percent of his passes this past season and threw 15 interceptions, sixth most in the country. He did not complete 10 passes six times.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges, who transitioned Robinson into a spread-West Coast hybrid system, has said another year under his tutelage should help smooth out those issues. Borges has a history of getting big second years from his quarterbacks, including UCLA's Cade McNown and San Diego State's Ryan Lindley.