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Posted on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke says Denard Robinson can be an NFL QB, despite what analysts say

By Nick Baumgardner

The general consensus among National Football League analysts on Michigan football quarterback Denard Robinson is simple.

He'll be an interesting, athletic talent somewhere on a pro roster -- just not at quarterback.

With all due respect to those analysts, Michigan coach Brady Hoke doesn't want to hear it.

Don't tell him what Robinson can, and can't, do.

"I think he can," Hoke said Wednesday. "There will be other people that think he can't.

"But, you know what, that won't be their decision."


NFL analysts say Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson will have to change positions if he hopes for a career in professional football. Michigan coach Brady Hoke says that's not a decision those analysts will need to make.

Angela J. Cesere |

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year, Robinson said once his career at Michigan is over, his intentions are to pursue a career in the NFL at the only position he's ever known.


Robinson has been one of, if not the most, electrifying signal callers in Wolverine history during his tenure in Ann Arbor, but not really for his arm.

His 1,702 rushing yards in 2010 -- an FBS record for a quarterback -- seem to speak almost as loud as his 15 interceptions and paltry 55-percent completion rate in 2011.

He'll likely be a Heisman Trophy candidate when the 2012 season begins, but not for his pocket presence or throwing mechanics.

"He's not going to be a quarterback (in the NFL), no chance of that," ESPN NFL analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said shortly after the completion of the 2012 NFL draft. "He might be a 'wildcat' quarterback, but that's about it.

"He's going to have to have a position change."

Kiper, and others, have routinely suggested Robinson make the switch to wide receiver/ kick returner at the next level, and fully embrace the change moving forward.

If any position changes do happen, they'll have to wait until the 2012 college season is over. Asked if he has ever considered allowing a player like Robinson to tinker with other positions while in college to better serve his NFL future, Hoke's answer was a predictable "no."

"This is about the team," he said. "We all have signed on for Michigan. And we'll take care of Michigan first."

Despite all the chatter about Robinson's future, Hoke maintains he's rather comfortable with Robinson in the present.

In 2010, he set records in Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense. In 2011, he struggled at times to adapt to first-year offensive coordinator Al Borges' hybrid spread/pro-style offense, but developed as a leader and managed to lead Michigan to a Bowl Championship Series win.

In 2012?

"I thought he had a very good spring," Hoke said. "His attention to the detail in the throw game was very good, and I thought it was good (last season) against Nebraska and I thought it was good against Ohio (State). I thought he was more decisive, and I thought fundamentally from a technique standpoint he's been better.

"We like the heck out of him as our quarterback."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Mon, Jun 11, 2012 : 4 p.m.

I'm so happy to see many of you supporting Denard. Hoke is right it does not matter what any one of us says. I agree with him though. Denard is just improving every year, yes last season was a little rough for him but look where the kid got us. I love the heck out of this kid and he will be missed a great deal. I believe there is a QB position for you Denard! I will follow him the whole way.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Mel should go back to handicapping where wide receivers should be drafted instead of beating his gums about who can play what position. Following that wide out drafted by the Niners two years ago as he held out for more money based on his "Kiper" value was hilarious.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Robinson can be an NFL qb, if he shows more patience and judgment his senior year in his passing. He has arm strength and quickness of delivery. Other good NFL qbs have been his size, such as Drew Brees and, earlier, Joe Thiesman, in terms of height and running ability....I wouldn't want to be an NFL defensive coach near the goal line with DR at QB....


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Chances are that he will not be an NFL QB, but if he improves significantly in passing, then why not? He's about the size of Joe Theisman, who was for 5 years or so, one of the better qbs in the NFL. Also, I think he matches Dree Brees in size--height--as well. Right: nearly all NFL teams want someone to stay in the pocket and hit receivers. But his running skills would scare any NFL defensive coach...


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

At best he'll be another Josh Cribs without the power


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

I wish this kid the best, good luck again The Tide.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Whadyouwannabet that Denard detractors have waist sizes that match their IQs, and they cannot see their feet, so they don't even have shoe laces?


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

D. Rob. has the skills to be the greatest punt return specialist in football history, NCAA or NFL. He would also be a force to be reckoned with if he lined up as a slot receiver. The threat of him running an end around or a reverse or even passing after starting a run like that would draw a LOT of attention from the defenses he'd face. He'd probably still be very successful.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Instead of trying to force fit a square peg into a round hole, why not cut a square hole??? Right fit NFL team and I think he'll do well. For example, Green Bay, the running lanes that offense opens up due to the WRs' talents and routes. Yeah, I know, he'll get hurt because he's 2-4" short, because we all know that the odds of getting hurt in the NFL is less for a QB 6'2" and taller. You may want to tell MStafford that. :-) NFL : Not For Long


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Do some of you forget that this is the good ol USofA. The word can't does not exist. He may not be good enough but that has yet to be determined. I get the impression that the word can't is not in Denard's vocabulary. Most college teams that took a good look at Denard were not planning on playing him at QB but then again RR was not most head coaches. The only thing I can say about Denard Robinson for sure is that he will go down in Mich. lore as an electrifying QB at Michigan.


Sat, Jun 9, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

"Spartan tears taste like sugar" NO BCS BOWL FOR YOU - AGAIN


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

He will also go down in history as 0-4 vs. the MSU Spartans! Where's the threat?


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

DR deserves a shot at playing QB in the NFL and that's all that he would be asking for. . . i will root for him at what ever position and team he end's up at!! GO BLUE!!!!!!

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I agree with most of what you say. I just don't think he has NFL quarterback skills. But its just an opinion and time will tell.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

Just a footnote, I think we were lucky to have Denard and he strikes me as a fine young man.

Terry Star21

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

Word of caution; there have been other QB's with less talent that have not only started NFL games, but excelled. Our only concern right now should be the alabama game, watching DRob run/pass at will - try not to blink your eyes. I'm going to refer any additional comments to Michigan Man Ted. MgoBlueForTiM....blinking sparties/buckeyes miss DRobb TD's - in bunches.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

"Word of caution; there have been other QB's with less talent that have not only started NFL games, but excelled. " I'm curious about that "excelled" part. Who did you have in mind? And the word "excelled" is a bit ambiguous. Excelled on a career, or other long term basis or excelled in shorter spurts like a game or 2?


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

He has done great things at Michigan, but, he will never be a starting QB in the NFL. His height alone will prevent that. His biggest weakness is lack of vision and passing capability over the middle because of his height. The red shirt freshman at the spring game by far looked the most like an NFL QB. He will probably be a 3rd or 4th round draft at WR or maybe even RB.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

" Don't tell him what Robinson can, and can't, do...We like the heck out of him as our quarterback." Way to show love for your QB, Hoke! Fact of the matter is, no one really knows just how good this kid could be. DR is judged mainly by his weakness ( passing ), and we really can't judge that either. His sophomore (2010) season compares with most 1st year starters with the exception of a NCAA record. Last season his play had as much ( maybe more ) to do with a new coach and system as it did with mechanics, however, he was able to lead Michigan to it's 2nd 11 win season in the pass 20 years, including a BCS Bowl victory. ATHLETICS...that's why they're called Athletes, not Mechanicaletes.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

As opposed to Cousins leading MSU to its second 11 win season during the past 2 years? Where's the threat?


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Passing mechanics can be corrected. The decision process can be learned and improved. In many ways this is only Denard's 2nd year in the offense. He's shown a tireless and selfless devotion to improvement, both personally and as a team player (and now a leader). I'd be slow to make absolute statements about what Denard can and cannot do.

Scott Laux

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

He'll be more accurate and experienced in the pass game in 2012 and his running will be outrageous as always. When he's gone we are going to miss "the heck out of him".


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Well I like the heck out of him as UM's QB as well. While I think he will most likely play a different position in the NFL, he still has a year to prove everyone otherwise. I do think he will show improvement. He will be more comfortable in the system, and Borges will be more comfortable utilizing him. While I'm not expecting anything crazy, I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a season more like 2010 as far passing goes. If that's the case, on top of the threat Fitz has become, the UM offense will hum right along. Denard has done a lot for UM the last three years and I hope he can go out on a great season. I believe he will.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 7:55 a.m.

The play calling was different because the scheme was. There was plenty of read option, but passing plays took on a new scheme. If Denard can embrace the west coast concepts (short to intermediate passes) he could very well reach numbers similar to 2010. RR's scheme was definitely not all about screen plays. They were used, but a large portion of the passing plays came on the option and were vertical passes down the seams of the defense. Denard as a freshman was a terrible passer, but as a sophomore he became comfortable and became more of a threat in the passing game. I think there will be a similar transition this year. He has the arm to make just about any pass, its more a matter of learning the new progressions .


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

The only way he'll have a season like 2010 is if Borges starts using WR screen plays, essentially a run that counts towards his completion percentage. That's why Robinson's numbers were down last year. It had nothing to do with the scheme. It was Borges' play calling.


Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Only a great year passing the ball will get him a chance for a legit audition. Despite last year, I am not counting him out as his improvement from 1st yr to 2nd yr under RichRod was amazing. This being his 2nd yr under BHoke, I am going to be optimistic and expect the same leap.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

I would expect Brady to "say the right thing" with respect to his starting quarterback. But I would be shocked if Denard Robinson could draw a paycheck as a QB in the NFL. Unless its briefly as a clipboard holding #3. Even then I would be surprised.