As far as immediate offensive impact players go, the Denver Broncos only drafted one in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Broncos’ brass has been gushing over their talented, speedy, home-run-hitting RB Ronnie Hillman out of San Diego State all week with visions of grandeur for his arrival.
However, the Denver Broncos didn’t add any impact wide receivers for Peyton Manning to go deep to through this year’s draft. One standout player the Broncos did add in free agency was rookie receiver out of Arizona State, Gerell Robinson.
Outside of his senior season at ASU, Robinson had an unspectacular collegiate career. However, his senior season as a Sun Devil with new Denver Bronco, Brock Osweiler at quarterback, he nearly broke records for single-season receiving yards, receptions, and he did set the school record for yards per game with an average of 107.5 yards per game. He amassed 77 receptions (third best in school history) for 1,397 yards (second best in school history), with six games of over 100 yards, catching a touchdown pass in seven games out of 13.
It seems like having a top quarterback really elevated Robinson’s game last season.
Now, with an elite future hall-of-fame quarterback in Peyton Manning under center, Robinson should be poised to have a breakout season as a rookie, similar to Austin Collie, the Indianapolis Colts’ wide receiver who thrived with Peyton Manning as a rookie in 2009, amassing 676 yards and seven touchdowns.
He possesses elite size at 6’4” and 227 pounds and has some good speed on straight-line go routes. He has the potential of being a deep threat for Manning and has sure hands that will extend possessions.
At this year’s NFL combine Robinson ran a 40-yard dash between 4.5 and 4.62 seconds with a 35-1/2" vertical leap, a 9’5” broad jump and a 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle time.
He shined at this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama when he hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass in the prestigious collegiate all-star game.
His biggest games of the year came when it mattered the most in 2011. He caught 11 passes for 199 yards against ASU’s in-state rivals, the University of Arizona. The performance set a school record for the most yards in a Territorial Cup Series game.
Robinson had a career game in this year's MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas, topping his previous best with 241 yards receiving on 13 receptions, including a career-long reception of 58 yards. The 241-yard game was a MAACO Bowl record and the second-best receiving game in ASU history, and it also set a school record as most yards in a bowl game.
Robinson is happy to have found a home in Denver, even though he wasn’t drafted, and it appears like the Broncos may have found a diamond in the rough that they are excited to have on their roster.
In a recent interview on Scout.com, Robinson was quoted concerning his acquisition by the Broncos as saying:
“As everyone goes through the process, you have to be politically correct and say that you don’t mind which team drafts you,” Robinson explained. “And when you get drafted you’re happy to go to the team that wants you. But the one team I always wanted to go to was the Denver Broncos.
“I always liked the team and I had a good conversation with Mr. Elway when he came to the school, as well as with their GM and receivers coach. I got to talk to them when they worked out Brock and I got a better understanding about them and how much they liked me. I was talking to them even before they worked out Brock. But obviously me being there in all of his workouts helped me get noticed by the Broncos. I’ll take that package deal.”
When ASU quarterback, Brock Osweiler came to Dove Valley in a tryout for VP John Elway and company, Robinson tagged along taking reps from Brock.
“Denver said that they liked my size. My ability to make plays and turn catches into first downs. They also like I can go across the middle and just my overall desire to win.”
If things really go well for Robinson, one former Broncos great that Robinson reminds me of is the young Rod Smith. Smith was undrafted out of Missouri Southern State in 1994. He used that status after being acquired by the Broncos as a rookie free agent to motivate him his entire career. Smith is the only undrafted free agent to have ever surpassed the 10,000-receiving-yard plateau.
Asked about having a chip on his shoulder not being drafted he told reporters:
“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I have the entire world on my shoulder. That is the mindset I will have when I get there. Again, I understand that things happened for a reason, but the way things happened are more than just motivation for me to just go out there and do what I’m supposed to.”
“I know that some situations are out of your control and a man’s fate doesn’t always rest in his own hands,” Robinson said. “You just have to trust that everything will work out and I believe it did. To be part of such a good organization like that…I’m very excited to see how everything plays out.”
Even though the Broncos didn’t draft any rookie receivers, picking up Gerell Robinson as a rookie free agent was like adding an extra draft pick to the 2012 draft class. He has the potential to provide an immediate impact this season.