There isn't a player in the upcoming NFL draft who has a higher ceiling than Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
He has the measurables, athleticism and ability to develop into one of the NFL's best offensive tackles.
It seems like Robinson came out of nowhere as a draft prospect, but, simply put, nobody assumed he'd be declaring. Most evaluators were aware of Robinson but weren't concentrating on studying underclassmen, let alone draft-eligible sophomores.
But after getting a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board, Robinson made his decision.
This was a tough decision but I have decided to declare for the NFL Draft.— Greg Robinson (@GregRobinson73) January 7, 2014
Now that it's official and the tape is being studied, he's become a top 10-eligible prospect according to many draft analysts.
What they're saying
According to Bleacher Report's Lead NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller over email, Robinson is the ideal offensive tackle prospect:
Greg Robinson's dominance in the BCS Title game is a great example of his ability to completely take over the defensive line. His quickness off the ball is unmatched in this offensive tackle class, and the toughness with which he plays is ideal for an NFL lineman. As soon as it became a possibility that Robinson might enter the draft, he was instantly a top 15 prospect. The title game, and subsequent film study, is why Robinson is my No. 4 overall player.
Eric Galko of The Sporting News and Optimum Scouting echoes Miller's sentiment regarding Robinson's ability, again via email:
Robinson's rise caught most evaluators by surprise entering the season. With ample size and build as a red-shirt freshman, Robinson was a developmental guy to follow, but I had no idea he'd emerge as one of the better tackle prospects of the past few drafts. With the lateral balance to be efficient as an edge pass blocker and a powerful interior presence, Robinson fits any teams blocking scheme and has the athleticism to develop into the always-coveted franchise left tackle.
CBSSports.com (h/t NFLDraftScout.com) has Robinson as the No. 4 overall player and the No. 2 offensive tackle behind Texas A&M's Jake Matthews.
“Put Greg Robinson in the top-7 of your mock draft and leave him there.” - Ex-NFL GM to me on the big Auburn tackle #NFLDraft— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 24, 2014
It's fair to say there's a certain amount of buzz surrounding Robinson.
What they're seeing
When watching Robinson, it doesn't take long to see what all the buzz is about.
He's an absolute force in the run game. He's relentless and physical. Combine that with elite athleticism for a player pushing 6'5" and 300-plus pounds, and there's the bottom line.
I'm studying the Auburn offense…LT Greg Robinson is outstanding! Quick feet, easy bender, quick/strong punch, finisher. Big time player!— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 16, 2013
Here's an example of Robinson's dominance in the run game.
These next couple of plays are from Auburn's SEC title game against the Missouri Tigers.
He's engaged with the defender from the very first picture and physically dominates him throughout the entire sequence.
Robinson does a great job of getting his hands inside the defender's hands and driving him down the field.
He even finishes the play with a little shove.
Robinson possesses the initial "punch" needed to stun defensive linemen as well.
In this next couple of plays, you'll see his ability to jolt a defender off his path with a quick punch, which gets the defender off balance and out of the play.
Robinson is going to pop the defensive end coming up the field and knock him off balance.
This allows the running back, Tre Mason, to get through the large hole on the left side of the offensive line.
Robinson's run-blocking ability is largely unquestioned. That's the part of his game people will point to when they say he's special.
It's unfair to say anyone is NFL-ready before he ever sets foot on an NFL field, but from the standpoint of holding up against the run, Robinson will be just fine from day one.
What they're worried about
In Auburn's offensive system, there weren't many opportunities for Robinson to show his ability in pass protection. And when he did, there was room for improvement.
I took a quick look at Auburn OT Greg Robinson today. He's phenomenal. Main concern is lack of snaps in pass-pro makes it tough to evaluate.— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) February 10, 2014
He displays all the athleticism needed to slide and mirror in pass protection from a development standpoint.
Lance Zierlein of The Sideline View believes there's work to be done in Robinson's pass-blocking abilities: "Robinson allowed 3 sacks over final two games and 9 over the previous two seasons and needs a great deal of technique work so he'll stop leaning so much rather than just trusting his feet and natural power."
This is something you'll want to consider if you're a team thinking of taking Robinson at the top of the draft.
Either way, you're not getting a finished product with anyone you take in the draft. Robinson already possesses an elite run-blocking ability that is considered to be the best to come along in a while.
When you already have an elite part of your game, you build off that and develop the rest.
Robinson's ceiling is unmatched, and while it will take some development for him to reach his ultimate potential, that's true for any player in the draft.
You don't want a player who's tapped out and whose ceiling is well within reach.
Take the guy whose ceiling is not yet known. That's Robinson.