Will Greg Robinson's Unlimited Potential Be Realized in Combine Performance?

Ty SchalterNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 21, 2014

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Offensive linesman Greg Robinson #73 of the Auburn Tigers warms up prior to the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game against the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If the NFL Scouting Combine is a job interview, Greg Robinson dressed for the job he wants.

As NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah tweeted, Robinson measured 6'5", 332 pounds and looked every bit the kind of franchise left tackle teams race each other to the podium for.

Robinson is one of several left tackles who may come off the board in the early half of the first round, but he has the physical size, power and tools to become the best of the bunch. As a redshirt sophomore from Auburn, a program that asked him to do very little traditional pass-blocking, he'll have to answer questions about his lack of experience.

Robinson will run the gauntlet of offensive line drills alongside his competition: Cyrus Kouandjio, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan. With a strong showing, Robinson can prove that he has the lateral quickness and hands to make the leap. Even if he can't answer all the on-field questions in a whirlwind tour of measurements, workouts, drills and interviews, he's better suited to learning on the job at right tackle than the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, Eric Fisher.


On the Fast Track

Robinson has always seemed destined for bigger things, but as Robinson told Auburn's official site, he wasn't always big.

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver Trovon Reed (1) and Auburn Tigers offensive linesman Greg Robinson (73) celebrate after the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. The Auburn Tigers defeated the M
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

"Growing up, I was a real fast little dude," he said. "I was more like into track and basketball. I used to run with my brother and sister a lot. I didn’t play football at all.”

A Louisiana native, Robinson's family moved to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That's when he got big—and got noticed. The quarterback at his high school, Trovon Reed, convinced Robinson to give football a try, despite his family's safety concerns. The young shot-putter quickly became a prized football recruit.

As Rivals.com's No. 2 nationally ranked offensive guard in 2011, he had his pick of SEC schools. As he promised Reed, who signed with Auburn as a wide receiver the year before, Robinson chose Auburn.

Already a reported 6'5", 296 pounds and blessed with that natural athleticism, Robinson seemed to have immediate-starter potential. Then-head coach Gene Chizik had other ideas.

"Not quite sure why Chizik redshirted him," an anonymous scout told Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel. "He's a stud," the scout explained. "You're talking about a ton of athleticism, size, strength." In the scout's estimation, "He's in the top 10, 15 easy."


No. 4 With a Bullet

That scout isn't alone in his assessment.

Robinson is No. 4 overall on Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller's pre-combine Big Board. Miller, like many evaluators, thought more highly of Robinson as his redshirt sophomore season rolled on.

"Auburn left tackle Gregory Robinson jumps off the film anytime you turn it on," Miller said in his Week 14 Scouting Notebook. "Playing in a spread-out scheme, he's shown athletic ability, vision and strength protecting the edge and kicking out in the run game. He's only a redshirt sophomore, but he's on the NFL's radar and has first-round potential."

CBS Sports' Rob Rang compares Robinson favorably to 2013's No. 11 overall pick, San Diego Chargers tackle D.J. Fluker:

Fluker, who starred at right tackle for the Crimson Tide wound up being selected No. 11 overall by the San Diego Chargers. His length and power made Fluker effective for the Chargers with the rookie starting 15 of 16 regular season games and earning a spot on the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

Like Fluker, Robinson is a work in progress as a pass blocker but his massive size, strength and aggression make him a dominant run blocker. Robinson's boasts more upside than any other offensive lineman in the 2014 draft, which is why he has recently jumped ahead of the more polished Jake Matthews.


Huge Upside

It's hard not to talk about Robinson in terms of potential. Despite his prototypical size, Auburn's official site claims he can still do a standing backflip. Whether or not that's true, there's no missing his athleticism on tape.

Why isn't his reality talked about more often?

Auburn's offense simply didn't ask him to pass block very often. For those curious if Robinson can get to the second level and manhandle undersized college outside linebackers, though, there's miles of tape on that. Shadows of his pass-blocking potential can be seen in this footage, which comes courtesy of the cut-up wizards at DraftBreakdown.com:

When you hear talk about a "road-grading" run-blocker, you picture a lineman getting good leverage, delivering a strong hand punch and using lower-body strength to drive through his man.

More often, Robinson looks to reach out with his massive 35-inch arms, per Jeremiah, and control his man with upper-body strength. This bodes well for his prospects as a pass protector, whose first job is to get his hands on the pass-rusher.

Teams looking to see if his naturally quick feet and hands will let him make a quick transition to the NFL will be watching Robinson during the offensive line drills on Saturday, Feb. 22 for a smooth, quick kick-slide, and quiet, quick, smooth lateral movement in the mirror drill.

If NFL executives see what they're looking for, there's no limit to how high Robinson could go.