Outback Bowl 2013: Denard Robinson Proves He Has Strong Future in the NFL

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Outback Bowl 2013: Denard Robinson Proves He Has Strong Future in the NFL
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2013 Outback Bowl by a score of 33-28. But not everything that came out of Tuesday's game was all bad, as quarterback Denard Robinson showed that he could actually succeed in the NFL.

The tricky part of this whole argument is that he wasn't playing the quarterback position in this game. Due to a nerve injury in his throwing elbow that has knocked him out and helped hand Devin Gardner the starting job, Robinson has spent majority of his time at running back.

Today's performance against the Gamecocks was by far his best performance at the position. He carried the ball 23 times for 100 yards, averaging a little more than four yards a carry and breaking off his longest run for 15 yards. He also caught a pass for seven yards, which happened to be only the third reception of his career.

His performance on the national stage should have caught NFL scouts' attention at his new possible position. Robinson was explosive in and out his cuts, making future NFL players on the South Carolina defense miss in the open field and he abandoned the quarterback mentality of avoiding a hit.

Robinson is a running back now, and he looked like a pretty good one.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Some would question his lack of size at 6'0", 197 pounds, but as ESPN commentator Jon Gruden mentioned during the broadcast, he is very similar to Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman in stature. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke coached him back at San Diego State, and he ended up becoming a third-round pick in the 2012 draft.

Robinson likely won't be selected that high, but he does provide a team with even more options with his skill set and overall athleticism.

Sure, he made his case to become a solid running back at the next level, but he also has the ability to throw the football. I'm not talking about being a starting quarterback, but defenses would have to respect his arm every time he touches the football. He could be used in a Wildcat package or be brought in on trick plays to keep the defense honest. If Tim Tebow had success, Robinson should have no problem completing a pass every now and then.

What position should Robinson play in the NFL?

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Becoming a slot receiver should also be no problem for the explosive player. Due to his 4.39-second 40 time, Robinson would be a tough cover and should thrive at the position that is rapidly growing at the next level. He would be very effective in short-yardage situations and has shown that he can take a hit despite his smaller frame.

Another position that Robinson could play, if an NFL team wants a playmaker on defense, is cornerback. He was actually recruited heavily as a defensive player when coming out of high school and should have little problem making a transition with his work ethic.

According to Larry Lage of the AP, NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys general manager Gil Brandt believes that this is where Robinson would be the most successful.

I’d draft him to be a cornerback. Brandt said. A quarterback never wants to be told he’s going to have to play another position, but I don’t think he can play quarterback in the NFL. I do know teams are always looking for cornerbacks, and I think Robinson could do it because of his quickness and speed.

But he’d have to want to do it to make it work.

It really goes without saying that Robinson couldn't play quarterback. His size, funky delivery, slow release and the way the ball hangs in the air forever isn't the recipe you look for when trying to find a successful signal-caller.

However, with his speed, leadership, versatility and home-run ability, you have to like his future at the next level.

It really isn't a question if Robinson will be successful in the NFL; the question that remains now is what position?

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