Denard Robinson could provide the boost the Jacksonville Jaguars need.
Robinson affords the Jaguars a bargain-basement deal with top-end potential as the investment’s return.
“Shoelace,” the former Michigan Wolverines sensational-playmaking, crazy-athletic quarterback, was projected to go as late as the seventh round, but the Jaguars obviously saw an opportunity and thought it wise to seize the moment.
That’s a job well done by Jaguars management, which also picked up South Carolina speedster Ace Sanders, a 5’7”, 173-pounder that will only complement Robinson, who could play receiver as well as running back this fall.
At 5’10” and 199 pounds, Robinson is a 50-yard play waiting to happen. Within a blink of an eye, he can change the course of a game with a burst in and out of traffic on his way to six points.
Is Denard Robinson the right fit for Jacksonville?
For those who didn’t follow Robinson’s collegiate career, a visit to YouTube and simple search of “Denard” will produce minutes of intense footage of Robinson blowing by competitors with ease. Jacksonville could certainly use a player with abilities like those of Robinson.
In 2012, only six teams had a lower kick/punt return average than the Jaguars’ 21-yard per attempt average.
Six yards separated Jacksonville from the league-leading Baltimore Ravens, who averaged 27.3 yards per return. Those six yards—especially in the NFL, where inches and field position are of the utmost importance—could end up being a difference between a touchdown or a field goal.
There’s no doubt that Robinson’s 4.3-second 40-yard dash speed will come in handy when fielding punts and kickoffs. However, he’ll have to put a heavy emphasis on mastering his new craft if he wants to see continuous action.
Robinson won’t be an every-down receiver, nor will he be an every-down running back. His set of wheels is his bread and butter. His presence alone has the potential of impacting several areas of the offense and special teams.
Jacksonville’s offense was ineffective in 2012, coming in at No. 30 overall, according to Yahoo! Sports’ rankings.
The Jaguars will undoubtedly utilize Robinson in some capacity this season. His role could be something like what Rashad Jennings did in 2012. Jennings had 241 return yards and 130 receiving yards to go with 283 on the ground. He was everywhere for Jacksonville.
Former Oklahoma State star Justin Blackmon was the Jaguars’ first-round pick in 2012. An exciting receiver in his own right, Blackmon’s production could increase this season due to the addition of Robinson and Sanders in particular packages.
How many games will Denard Robinson appear in this season?
Sanders is a proven down-field threat. With a little patience, Robinson could develop into a similar weapon and give the Jaguars two speedy, deep-ball options.
But who will throw to him?
Blaine Gabbert, a first-rounder in 2010, may not be the quarterback that Robinson will work with. It might be Chad Henne.
Yeah, that Chad Henne—former University of Michigan star quarterback Chad Henne.
If that’s the case, Robinson could blossom into a well-rounded player a little sooner than expected. There’s something to be said of the college bond. And although Henne and Robinson never played together at Michigan, they share the Wolverines-quarterback legacy.
The two will have plenty to talk about, and Henne, being an NFL veteran, will surely do all he can to make sure Robinson’s transition into the league is as smooth as possible.
Having the Michigan brotherhood to rely on will help, but Robinson’s new team has a player with a somewhat similar backstory. Former Michigan State Spartans standout linebacker Greg Jones was a great college player whose NFL ability was questioned prior to being drafted in 2011.
Jones knows what it’s like to be a big fish in the college football pond. He was a dominant force in the middle for Michigan State—he even contributed to three straight wins over Robinson’s Wolverines— but was placed on special teams duties by the New York Giants, the team that drafted him.
Robinson will have to evolve his game, just like Jones, if he wants to have a steady job in the NFL. It’s all but certain that he won’t play quarterback—at least in the traditional sense—with the Jaguars. However, his future as a situational slot back/gadget-guy looks promising.
There were other teams interested in Robinson. At times, players get lucky on draft day and get picked up by a team that just fits. That’s the Jaguars, in this case.
Robinson will join a pair of guys who have been through the process in Henne and Jones. The fact that they’re all familiar with one another only makes things easier. Throw in an exciting draft class, and Robinson stands to have early success at the pro ranks.
Jacksonville, in hindsight, seems like the perfect destination for one of the most thrilling players to ever blaze a college gridiron.
I'm so blessed. You dream of getting that call on draft day, and to get to stay in my home state of Florida, it's an unbelievable feeling.— Denard Robinson (@DenardX) April 28, 2013
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81