It's no secret that the 2014 draft class is loaded. It's especially true at the wide receiver position, where this year's crop is as deep and as talented a group as we've seen in recent memory.
Not only are there seven or eight wideouts who could easily wind up drafted in the first round of May's NFL draft, but much like last year with Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers, this year's most productive rookie wideout may well come off the board in the second or third round.
In fact, it might be a young receiver with a game that's similar to Allen.
They even share a name.
Allen Robinson, who won the Richter-Howard award as the Big Ten's top wide receiver in each of the past two seasons, worked out for NFL scouts at Penn State's pro day on Tuesday.
According to Gil Brandt of NFL.com, those workouts went very well:
Of course, that success may have had something to do with the fact there was slightly less of Robinson than there was at February's NFL Scouting Combine.
|Allen Robinson Pro Day vs. Combine|
|Weight||40||Vert. Jump||Broad Jump||3-Cone|
|Per CBS Sports|
Robinson weighed in at State College at 208 pounds, down 12 pounds from what he weighed in Indianapolis. As Robinson told Audrey Snyder of PennLive, it was Robinson's intent to alleviate scouts' concerns about his long speed:
This season I was caught a couple times on some long runs. But at the same time the two guys who caught me could come out next year and run two 4.2 40s, so then what does that mean? Know what I’m saying? I still think I separated a lot from guys on routes on go routes and different deep routes. Obviously, I got behind defenses a lot. So it’s just what teams feel, so I wanted to come out here and run my best 40.
In many respects, Robinson has a point. Getting open didn't appear to be an issue at Penn State.
|Allen Robinson Stats|
|Per CFB Stats|
Despite less-than-elite quarterback play and all the turmoil that has surrounded the Nittany Lions over the past two seasons, Robinson topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two years. His 97 catches and 1,432 yards in 2013 were both school records.
According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, it's Robinson's physicality that is his biggest asset:
[Robinson] does a nice job working back to the ball and finding soft spots in zones. Works well in traffic and tight areas to fight for the ball and win jump-ball situations. Uses his hands to fight through the jam and create room to work. Tough and won't shy from contact. Large catching radius with a good vertical to attack the ball. Willing blocker in run support.
Brugler goes on to compare to Robinson to Anquan Boldin of the San Francisco 49ers. "Robinson doesn't have elite speed," Brugler said, "but like Boldin he is a good-sized athlete with deceiving acceleration and strength at the catch point to be both a possession target and big play-threat."
It also sounds quite a bit like a player Rob Rang of CBS Sports describes as "lacks elite straight-line speed," but one who "rarely allows passes to get past his hands and into his chest. Typically snatches passes out of the air, showing very good hand-eye coordination and a wide catching radius due to his length, flexibility and big hands."
That player was Keenan Allen last year.
Granted. the circumstances entering their respective drafts aren't the same. Allen was fighting a knee injury and reports of a failed drug test. Robinson's biggest obstacle may well be all the other talented wideouts entering this league this year.
|Rob Rang's Top 10 Wide Receivers|
|Rank||OVR Rank||Player||School||Proj. Round|
|2||11||Mike Evans||Texas A&M||1|
|3||19||Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||1|
|6||32||Kelvin Benjamin||Florida State||1-2|
|7||34||Allen Robinson||Penn State||1-2|
|8||45||Davante Adams||Fresno State||2|
|10||55||Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||2|
|Per CBS Sports|
Still, much like Allen a year ago, there are more than a few pundits who feel Robinson could hear his name called as early as the draft's first day. Rang ranks Robinson seventh among wide receivers and a borderline first-round pick.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey agrees:
Still, in a class this deep, and given the annual chasm in opinion between various NFL scouts and draft experts, it's just as easy to imagine Robinson falling to the third round (like Allen did in 2013) as it is to envision a pick late in Round 1.
For his part, Robinson told Snyder he's not about to let a draft-day dip get him down:
I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, so I’m not too worried about not getting drafted. All I can do is work; my whole life has been sitting around waiting so whatever round I go in, it is what it is. But at the same time when I get to my team, I’m going to grind and earn my spot.
If the similarity to Robinson's production is anywhere close to the similarity in his and Allen's games, then the NFL team that drafts him on Day 2 isn't going to be disappointed either.
Not by a long shot.