The Jacksonville Jaguars made Robinson their fifth-round draft pick on Saturday, taking the one-time quarterback from Michigan with the No. 135 pick.
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports sums things up in this tweet:
Jags take #Michigan WR/RB/KR Denard Robinson. Speed. Playmaker. Tough guy. Team guy. Good pick here.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) April 27, 2013
Although many expect Robinson to make the switch from QB to wide receiver, it's worth noting that Jacksonville announced him as a running back when the pick was made—a fact noted by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Twitter and various announcers broadcasting the event:
As the pick was announced on-screen, the cameras were on Robinson in his home with family. Bleacher Report's Twitter account had the picture of his face when Jags management made the call:
The Jaguars select Michigan's Denard Robinson with the 135th overall pick. twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 27, 2013
A four-year player under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke at Michigan, Robinson broke onto the scene as a Heisman candidate at the start of his sophomore season. He captivated us all with his read-option ability under center and runs that made the fastest players in college football look slow—all while never tying his shoes.
Three years as the starting QB for the Wolverines proved two things—Robinson could break a run for a touchdown at any time, and he was not the kind of pocket-passer you wanted to build a team around at the next level.
While "Shoelace" did finish his college career with over 6,200 yards passing, 49 passing touchdowns and a 57.2 percent completion percentage, most of his damage came on the ground, where he ran for 4,495 yards and 42 touchdowns during his time in Ann Arbor.
Supplanted by Devin Gardner in the middle of the season after an injury forced him out of the lineup, Robinson's Michigan career ended the same way it will likely begin in the NFL. He won't be used as a QB unless it's one of the "Wildcat" variety, more likely to line up in different places on the line of scrimmage to force the defense to adjust to his speed.
Expect Robinson to also contribute as a special teams returner during the first part of his NFL career; special teams might be the only way Robinson makes an NFL roster.
Although it's disappointing that the young man won't have a chance to compete for a job as a QB, the reviews on his ability as a pure playmaker are undeniable. According to Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, Robinson is far and away the most dynamic player he has ever faced in college (h/t Daniel Wasserman):
Kelly on Denard: "The most dynamic player we played against, and it's not even close, is Denard Robinson"— Daniel Wasserman (@d_wasserman) April 27, 2013
Former college QBs like Brad Smith, Joshua Cribbs and Antwaan Randle El all come to mind when conjuring up images of successful position changes in the NFL, and those guys give Robinson hope to make the switch to WR even though he only started playing the position in the latter half of his senior season.
Where should Robinson be used to best utilize his unique skill set?
As a fifth-round pick, Robinson presents good value as a returner and some long-term potential as a slot receiver who can change the game with the ball in space. His career trajectory is just beginning, and the Jaguars believe he can make an impact on their roster as a late-round steal.
Joining a talented group of skill players that includes Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts and Jordan Shipley, Robinson will have his work cut out for him to make the Jacksonville roster outright after training camp. He certainly has the skills, but learning a new position after a decade of being a QB is harder for some than it is for others.
If you listen to scouts, coaches and teammates, you shouldn't bet against Shoelace making an immediate impact in Jacksonville.
Robinson joins offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, safety Jonathan Cyprien, cornerback Dwayne Gratz and WR Ace Sanders as Jacksonville's 2013 NFL draft picks.