If the Michigan Wolverines are to leave the 2013 Outback Bowl with a victory, Denard Robinson is going to have to play exceptional football.
Robinson has been seeing most of his time at the running back position after Michigan lost running back Fitzgerald Toussaint to a leg injury earlier this year. The Wolverines needed a suitable replacement for Toussaint, and decided keeping Robinson on the field with Devin Gardner under center would be a better upgrade than using another running back to replace Toussaint.
Robinson won’t play the quarterback position in the NFL, and the move to running back is the best thing that could have happened for his draft stock. Robinson is an explosive runner, and with his size and throwing accuracy being a major concern, many NFL teams will take a look at how they can use him in other capacities.
Those teams will get a good look at him on New Year’s Day. Michigan hasn’t struggled to score points since inserting Gardner into the starting lineup, and it’s Robinson who has been the biggest reason for its offensive production. In the final two games of the season, Robinson ran for 220 yards on 9.6 yards per carry. He’s a big-play threat, and takes pressure off Gardner by forcing defensive ends to contain Robinson on the edge.
With a good offseason showing, Robinson could be a second-day selection in the 2013 NFL draft. He has the speed and quickness to be a versatile offensive weapon at the next level. NFL teams will be studying his late-season tape to get a better indication of how they can utilize Robinson.
With limited reps at running back in his career, it will be paramount for Robinson to show what he can do with the football when the Wolverines take on the Gamecocks in January. South Carolina has allowed just 119 rushing yards per game this season, and Michigan will need to establish a sound running game in order to move the ball effectively and keep itself in the game.
Regardless of the score, Robinson needs to perform well in his final collegiate game in order to bolster his draft stock. There will be plenty of teams looking to take a flyer on him in April.