Michigan Football: Denard Robinson's Stock Improves at 2013 NFL Combine

Joel GreerCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2013

Denard Robinson
Denard RobinsonBrian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a bump or two along the road, Denard Robinson's attempt to carve out an NFL career is right on schedule.

Robinson atoned for his poor showing at the recent Senior Bowl by displaying his speed and receiving skills Sunday at the NFL Combine.

With thoughts of becoming an NFL quarterback behind him, Robinson is intent on earning his way as a receiver, kick returner or situational running back.

"I think he's the ultimate hybrid Swiss-army knife type of player," Detroit Lions GM Mayhew told mlive.com "He can do so many things, and he's very good at a lot of things."

Since he played quarterback almost exclusively during his collegiate career, the transition to other positions won't happen overnight.

Add the lingering arm injury to the equation and it's understandable why he had trouble playing wide receiver at the Senior Bowl.

But Michigan fans are well aware of Robinson's athleticism, work ethic and leadership ability. It should be no surprise that Robinson ran a hand-timed 4.34 (officially 4.43) in the 40 and caught everything in the Combine's “gauntlet” pass-catching drill for receivers.

Still, NFL execs are concerned with the arm injury suffered during the Nebraska game.

“I just got some X-rays yesterday and some examination, and she said I’m going to continue to get better,” Robinson told mlive.com.

"Nerves is a thing you can't really put a time frame on," added Robinson, who admitted to performing at only 60 percent. "It takes time to heal, and if I have to have surgery, I have surgery."

Where Robinson eventually lines up and how high he goes in the draft are the only questions remaining.

"You have to have a creative offensive mind, creative coaching staff, to figure out the best way to use him." Mayhew added. That also determines where he falls in the draft.”

For instance, New England, who features versatile Wes Welker, understands the potential value of a player like Robinson.

Realistically, it might make sense for Robinson to concentrate on one area as he embarks on his new journey. Leaping directly into a receiver's role seems unlikely since experienced collegiate wide outs often fail.

A perfect example is Desmond Howard, who won a Heisman Trophy catching passes for Michigan, but floundered as a receiver in the pros. Fortunately, Howard was also an accomplished return man, who ran back a 99-yard kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXI. The return was not only a thing of beauty, it clinched Green Bay's win over New England and earned Howard the Super Bowl MVP award.

While Robinson never returned kicks at Michigan, his raw talents could carry him at first. Pure speed aside, Robinson displays the peripheral vision, elusiveness and football IQ to be successful.

Even with taking into account his current injury, Robinson displays the necessary durability to play on Sundays. Sure he was dinged on occasion, but the dual-threat quarterback missed very few snaps while rushing for 4,495 yards on 723 attempts.

"My vision is to try to be the best that I can possibly be when I get to the NFL," Robinson told yahoo.com. "Whatever teams put me at, that's what I'm going to work my tail off to be. Whatever they ask me to do that's what I'm going to do."


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