Denard Robinson had his struggles at the Senior Game practices and the game itself, though at the very least he was taking on an unfamiliar position and tried at it as best as he could. Robinson is clearly not an NFL quarterback—he proved that time after time even before an ulnar nerve injury forced him out of the QB role—but like Antwaan Randle El, he's willing to move to wideout to maximize his NFL value.
This uncertainty about Robinson's future in the NFL—he's freakishly athletic, but where do you play him?—makes him the biggest wild card in the entire 2013 NFL Draft. And while just about any scenario for his draft status is plausible, being that we're talking about a league where Tim Tebow went in the first round and Tom Brady went in the sixth, one NFL expert thinks Robinson won't be waiting too long come draft weekend.
Here's more from AnnArbor.com:
"The bottom line is I've seen players who didn't have the potential that Robinson has who went in the second round," Kiper said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. "I'd say second or third round for Robinson. I wouldn't say solid, sure-fire second round -- maybe could have happened if he had a good week at the Senior Bowl week at the receiver position -- but I'd say at worst third round right now.
"We'll see. But if I were a team, the third round is where I'd feel very comfortable bringing him into the fold."
It's interesting that Kiper brings up guys going in the second round, because we've compared Robinson to Devin Hester here before—and Hester was a second-round pick in 2006.
Where will Denard Robinson go in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Another, more recent corollary to consider for Robinson is that of former Ole Miss RB/WR/KR Dexter McCluster, who like Robinson was a bit of an unknown quantity going into the NFL. Sure, he had crazy athleticism and decent production, but at only 5'8" and 170 pounds he wasn't ideally suited for any single position.
Like Hester, McCluster ended up going in the second round—36th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010.
Robinson has similar athleticism to McCluster and Hester—which is to say "off the charts"—and size won't be an issue, as he's currently listed at 6'0" and 197 pounds. Unless either of those numbers trends significantly downward at the NFL Combine, he'll be understood to be physically capable of lining up at RB, WR, KR or any position in the secondary (though he doesn't exactly strike us as a safety).
So does this mean Robinson's worth a second-round pick?
We're going to agree with Kiper on this one—Robinson didn't show enough at the Senior Bowl practices to let teams see that he's a sure thing at the next level. What's more, what McCluster and Hester excelled at doing in college is more or less what they're excelling at doing in the NFL. Yes, Hester took on WR duties once he got to Chicago and that was (and we're being generous) a rollercoaster of emotions for Bears fans, but he was brought in as a return specialist first and foremost—and was he ever that.
But what Robinson spent most of his time in Ann Arbor doing was playing quarterback. Yes, a large part of that was running with the ball, but we're still talking about a guy with more career passing attempts (747) than rushing attempts (723). And many of those rushes came as sacks or scrambles on passing plays. So his adjustment period is going to be substantially larger than that of Hester or McCluster, and that's valuable time for NFL teams with limited roster space.
So with that in mind, third round sounds right for Robinson. Maybe even fourth. Fifth or lower if his combine is a disappointment or his nerve problems persist. But if he's healthy and focused on his route running at the next level, a Day 2 pick will be the right move.