Tom Gannam/Associated Press
If the St. Louis Rams didn’t think Auburn’s Greg Robinson could immediately make their offensive line better, they wouldn’t have selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. However, it’s unclear at this point if the Rams even trust Robinson enough to be a Week 1 starter as a rookie.
Robinson is expected to be the Rams’ starting left guard and is listed as such on the team’s depth chart. He has also been cross-training at his collegiate position, left tackle, throughout the summer and played both left tackle and left guard in St. Louis’ first two preseason games, each of which he started.
But with veteran left tackle Jake Long and guard Rodger Saffold both healthy for Saturday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns after each sat out the first two preseason games, Robinson was taken out of the starting lineup, as Saffold started at left guard while Davin Joseph retained his job with the first-team offense at right guard.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Rams won’t put Robinson back in their starting lineup by Week 1. According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the “Rams are not down on G. Robinson in any way.”
Still, the Rams didn’t bring Robinson off the bench in their Week 3 preseason game—the contest often viewed as the dress rehearsal for the regular season—for no reason. He has been struggling on the field thus far, enough that his overall rating from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) is at minus-7.1 through three games.
The potential that made Robinson the draft’s second selection is clear to see. A 6’5”, 332-pound lineman who runs a 4.92-second 40-yard dash and has tremendous power, Robinson is a rare physical specimen with the traits to develop into an elite NFL offensive lineman.
Fundamentally, however, he’s clearly not yet where he needs to be. He has often looked lost on the field and has missed too many blocks.
It’s easy to understand why Robinson is off to a shaky start. Offensive line is already one of the most difficult areas for a rookie to find immediate success, and the Rams have put the young blocker in a tough spot by requiring him to play both positions.
In light of his preseason struggles, the Rams plan to have Robinson “focus in on left guard from here on out, only using him at LT in emergency,” according to Thomas. But until his skills become more polished and he cuts down on his mistakes, he might not be able to provide an upgrade for the St. Louis offense up front.