Michigan Football: Does Denard Robinson Have an NFL Future Anywhere?

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterJanuary 2, 2013

January 1,2013; Tampa, FL, USA;  Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) runs with the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Michigan Wolverines 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fare thee well, Denard Robinson; you were awesome and enticing and frustrating, and nobody knew which of the three you'd be on any given play. Such is the collegiate legacy of Michigan's three-year quarterback-turned-running back, and now he's going to be hoping to find a home in the NFL come draft time.

The good news for Robinson is that he's likely to find that home somewhere. It's not going to be at quarterback, as Robinson never demonstrated anything near an NFL-caliber ability to throw the football. His arm strength is lacking, his accuracy was inconsistent and his read progressions left much to be desired. There is a reason Devin Gardner ended up being the quarterback when Robinson came back from injury.

Robinson has one significant advantage when it comes to getting drafted in the NFL, though: He is still insanely athletic. MGoBlog found a career highlight video for Robinson compiled by YouTube legend WolverineHistorian, and it's 24 good minutes of Denard Robinson doing Denard Robinson things. And admit it: You're not even surprised that it's that long, are you?

So whenever considering for a moment that Denard Robinson won't get drafted, please refer back to that video. He will get drafted.

And the good news is that there's evidence that an NFL program will be patient with a positional change. The case study here for Robinson is fellow Florida native and ludicrous speedster Devin Hester of the Bears.

Hester came to Chicago as a college cornerback and return specialist, and he was transitioned to wide receiver early in his career with the Bears. He wasn't particularly good as a receiver, mind you, but he still was a starter and just finished his sixth straight season in Chicago, and the goal for any draft pick is sticking around as long as possible.

Like Hester, Robinson is blessed with outrageous speed and agility, and that has opened up talk of him playing anywhere from running back to wide receiver to, as one NFL executive mused, cornerback. It's hard to imagine Robinson not having the ball in his hands when he's got such open-field talent, so like Hester, Robinson will probably try to transition to an offensive position.

Also, like Hester, Robinson looks like he's got serious potential as a return specialist—though he's at the disadvantage of not having any experience there coming into the league. Still, Robinson is adept at running through entire defenses in one fell swoop, so a potential transition to a special teams role wouldn't be a terribly dramatic change.

Now, we're going to stop the Hester/Robinson comparison long before Robinson matches Hester's prolific career return numbers, because Hester might very well be the best return specialist the NFL has ever seen. But Robinson at least looks like the rare type of player who can challenge the athleticism of even an elite defense, and that's a valuable commodity in the NFL.

We're not sure what position Denard Robinson will pick for his NFL career, mainly because there's little reason to believe Robinson even knows that at this point. Once he's there, though, the only thing standing between him and a good NFL career (aside from the luck of health) is his determination in making the transition work. And we're not about to start doubting that.