Denard Robinson: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Michigan QB/WR/KR

Tim ArcandCorrespondent IApril 26, 2013

Denard Robinson: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Michigan QB/WR/KR

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    University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is hoping to take that next step and play in the NFL. In order to better his prospects, he participated in the NFL Scouting Combine as a wide receiver. 

    Perhaps that's not the right move for Robinson. He leaves the Big Ten as the conference leader in rushing yards for a quarterback. Whether he makes the switch to wide receiver or running back, the odds are not in his favor of having a long and successful career in the NFL.


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    Full Name: Denard Xaiver Robinson  

    Birthday: September 22, 1990

    Hometown: Deerfield Beach Florida

    High School: Deerfield Beach High School

    Major: General Studies

    Year: Senior

    Denard Robinson grew up in Deerfield Beach, Fla. It was there that as a 10-year-old youth football player he earned a nickname that still sticks with him today—Shoelace.

    For some reason, Robinson never tied his shoes. In a 2010 story from The Michigan Daily, there were plenty of attempts to secure his shoes to his feet, but they all failed. In the end, all of his coaches came to the same conclusion, and decided not to mess with success. 

    In high school, Robinson became the starting varsity quarterback during his sophomore year. As a junior, he led Deerfield Beach to the state semifinal game. Playing against the best high school football team in the country, he almost pulled off an upset, but ultimately fell to Miami Northwestern, 14-12.  

    Robinson was highly recruited after high school, but not always as a quarterback. According to a story by ESPN, plenty of schools were recruiting him as a cornerback. Even Michigan started out recruiting Robinson as a defensive back—and he turned them down.

    It wasn't until Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez changed his mind and offered Robinson a scholarship to come to Michigan and play quarterback. 

    He finished his collegiate career with 6,250 passing yards and 4,495 rushing yards. In his senior year, Robinson finished with three receptions for 31 yards.  


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    As a freshman, Denard Robinson was not named the starting quarterback. However, he did play in all 12 games for the Wolverines. It was his only season where he finished with more rushing yards than passing yards, as Michigan finished with a 5-7 record.

    As a sophomore, Robinson was named the starting quarterback for the Maize and Blue, leading the Wolverines to a 7-6 record. Statistically, this was his best season with his passer rating topped out at 149.6 and 1,702 rushing yards.

    As a junior, he backed that up and led Michigan to an 11-2 record, including a 40-34 win over Big Ten rival Ohio State. In that game, Robinson accounted for all five touchdowns, passing for three and rushing for two.

    Denard Robinson's Stats at Michigan: 

    Year Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total
    2009 188 351 539
    2010 2,570 1,702 4,272
    2011 2,173 1,176 3,349
    2012 1,319 1,266 2,585
    Totals 6,250 4,495 10,745

Draft Process and Prospects

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    Although Denard Robinson was a three-year starter for Michigan at quarterback, he participated in the NFL Scouting Combine as a wide receiver. That might be a bit of a surprise, not because it wasn't the position he played in college, but because he might be better suited as a running back. In each of his last three seasons at Michigan he rushed for over 1,000 yards. 

    Even with potentially needing to switch positions, Robinson has a very good chance of getting drafted. Representatives from 29 of the 32 NFL teams were present to watch him work out at Michigan's Pro Day. According to, Robinson worked out as a wide receiver, running back and return specialist. 

    At the combine, his time in the 40-yard dash, 4.43 seconds, was the eighth-fastest among wide receivers. His 36.5" vertical was also the eighth-best—three inches short of the high mark set by Marcus Davis, Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter among wideouts.

    Here are Robinson's numbers from the combine:


    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 199 pounds

    Arm Length: 32 5/8"

    Hand Size: 9"


    NFL Combine Results (from

    40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds

    20-yard dash: 2.50 seconds

    10-yard dash: 1.55 seconds

    Vertical jump: 36.5"

    Broad jump: 10'3"

    20-yard shuttle: 4.22 seconds 

    Robinson was invited to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl. He finished with two catches for 21 yards and one rushing attempt for minus-three yards. He was also set to return a kickoff, but he did not cleanly catch the ball in the end zone and had to take a touchback. 

    There's no doubt that Robinson will be drafted, though. 

    NFL Draft Scout projects Robinson to go somewhere in the fifth or sixth round, while Walter Football gives a little more credit, projecting him to be drafted as high as the fourth round.

Interesting Facts

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    Denard Robinson was as successful a runner as he was a passer. In his four seasons at Michigan, he finished with 4,495 rushing yards—not only surpassing Antwaan Randle El for the most by a quarterback in Big Ten history, but also the most ever in NCAA history. His total also ranks ninth overall in the Big Ten since 1956.

    In his first year as a starter in 2010, Robinson rushed for 1,702 yards, setting the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. 

    As a senior, he averaged 7.15 yards per rushing attempt—his best average in four years, and the best in the Big Ten that season. From 2010 to 2012, he led the Wolverines in both passing and rushing, averaging 2,020 passing yards and 1,381 rushing yards. 

    After running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, there's no doubt Robinson has enough speed. Not only was he a three-year starter at quarterback in high school, but he also ran track.

    In 2008, he finished third in the 100-meter dash at the Florida 4A State Championship. That year he was also a member of the 4x100-meter state champion relay team.

    As a freshman, Robinson was also a member of the University of Michigan track team. He finished ninth in the 60-meter dash at the 2010 Big Ten Championships.  


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    The question is not if Denard Robison will be drafted, but at what position? 

    In an article from ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr. believes Robinson has only two options:  

    At the end of the day, you don't know where Robinson is going to fit in. I say wide receiver because it has happened a number of times in the past to allow you to think that could happen. He may also be a defensive back. One of those two spots, otherwise he's not going to play in the NFL.

    Kiper went on to say that Robinson has little value as a wildcat quarterback. 

    If Robinson is going to be successful at the next level, he will have to be plugged into the right situations. Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew sees Robinson's role as a utility player. In an article by Kyle Meinke of, Mayhew is quoted: 

    I think he's the ultimate hybrid Swiss-army knife type of player. He can do so many things, and he's very good at a lot of things. You have to have a creative offensive mind, creative coaching staff, to figure out the best way to use him.


    A Weighty Issue

    Interestingly enough, depending on what site you believe, Robinson is somewhere between 5'10" and 6'0". At football page, he's listed at 6'0" and 197 pounds. No dimensions are given on the Michigan track page.

    On, Robinson's height is 5'10". They make up it by adding two pounds to his weight, which is listed at 199 pounds. NFL Draft Scout splits the difference and lists his height at 5'11'' with his weight at 199 pounds. 

    Sure it's only two inches, but the NFL is all about the numbers and those two inches could make a difference in some general managers' opinions. That gap could also be the difference between Robinson becoming a wide receiver or a running back at the next level.