Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Denard Robinson. Pro prospects

Few would doubt that former Univ of Mich QB Denard Robinson is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He seems to be one of those guys (or girls) that comes along every once in a great while that can be very good at just about any sport they try their hand at. Yours truly wouldn't be a bit surprised if Denard could do very well at baseball, hoops, golf, tennis, bowling, you name it -- if he put his mind to it. He's one in a million. A natural.

Yet that only goes so far. Being a lot better than the average John/Jane Schmo is lights years away from competing at the top levels of any sport. Some of the best in their respective games tried their hands at other sports and couldn't cut it. Michael Jordan thought he could play major league baseball. He wasn't good enough. Seen Charles Barkley's golf swing? His own word "turrible" doesn't give it justice. Guys like Danny Ainge and Bo Jackson that were good enough to compete at the pro level in two different sports are more like one in a billion.

Even in the same sport, at the pro level, things get highly specialized. An NHL goalie wouldn't be much use as a right/left winger, nor vice-versa. Even a Triple Crown winning baseball slugger like Miguel Cabrera would get shelled if he ever took the pitching mound. And I'm pretty sure we won't see point guards like Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo posting up underneath the basket anytime soon. But nowhere is the degree of specialization more prominent than it is in the NFL.

And that means Denard Robinson might have a problem. He's certainly multi-talented, but is he good enough at just one position to justify his presence on an NFL team? The competition is ferocious for every last roster spot and, just where exactly, might Denard find his niche?

Many knowledgable football people say that Robinson won't even be considered as a QB in the NFL. We can also probably rule out linebacker or even tight end. He's nowhere near big enough.

Could he withstand the pounding an NFL running back gets every game? Hard to say, but call yours truly skeptical.

A wide receiver? He's certainly fast enough, but he's only 6 feet tall. Pro teams these days prefer their wide-outs to have much longer reaches. Further, does Robinson possess the hands of glue and/or the intestinal fortitude to run a route across the middle into a zone, knowing a hard charging safety bigger than he is will rock his world a nano-second after the ball arrives? Unknown.

Becoming a defensive back is a possibility, but that requires an entirely different skill set too. During his college days, Robinson could run and the other guys would have to react. As a cornerback, the tables would be turned. Not only are most pro receivers every bit as fast as Robinson, if not faster, they know where they're going on their routes, and Denard would have to become the reactor. One split second of indecision might well result in the wide receiver trotting into the end zone for a touchdown. Even All-Pro corners get burned once in a while. Could Robinson step in and be competitive at a brand new position to him going up against the finest in the world on the other side? Nobody knows for sure.

Robinson could likely play on "special teams", either as a kamikaze covering kicks, or better yet as a punt and kickoff returner himself. Yet with the very nature of the high speed contact that goes along with those positions, players get "blown up" all the time. The other guys are playing for keeps too, remember?

Denard Robinson will definitely get drafted by a pro team. Which one is a total crap shoot, but I'll take a wild guess and say he'll go in the 2nd round. Despite his all-around athleticism, right now, he's not good enough at any particular skill position to be a 1st rounder, because 1st rounders are supposed to immediately step in and be difference makers.

Regardless, here's wishing him the best, wherever he lands. Can't be any worse than Sir Charles' golf swing, or Michael Jordan trying to hit a curve ball -- right?

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