College Football: Heisman Hopeful Denard Robinson Only 5th-Best QB in Big Ten

M.L. PreyContributor IOctober 16, 2011

Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Michigan QB Denard RobinsonLeon Halip/Getty Images

University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson may be considered by many to be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he is only the fifth-best quarterback in the Big Ten.

Now, let's not sell Robinson short: He also happens to be the best running back in the Big Ten and one of the best ball carriers in all of college football.  However, when it comes to playing quarterback, and particularly his role in the passing game, Shoelace leaves much to be desired.

A true junior, Robinson is not blessed with a particularly strong arm and, even more troublesome, displays some of the worst throwing mechanics of any Big Ten quarterback.  As a result, he continuously misses open receivers and is picked off nearly as often as he throws touchdowns (31 TDs to 25 INTs for his career).

Of course, the Michigan signal-caller frequently makes up for his deficiencies as a passer with his legs, and he can be a defensive coordinator's nightmare.  Yet, whenever the Wolverines' run game is shut down by a quality defensive unit, Robinson has struggled to lead his team to victory with his arm. 

Such was the case again yesterday in a loss to Michigan State.  Robinson's passes continually sailed wide, beyond and short of the mark, and he finished the day 9-for-24 for 123 yards, one touchdown and one critical pick six.

Truth be told, Michigan's offense would be more effective against the better defenses with sophomore Devon Gardner, a Terrell Pryor clone, under center and Robinson lined up as either a tailback or slot receiver.  Unfortunately, Robinson refuses to see himself as anything but a quarterback, and the Michigan coaching staff refuses to mess with the status quo.

So, if Robinson is only the Big Ten's fifth best quarterback, who should be ranked ahead of him?  The list begins with Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, followed by MSU's Kirk Cousins, Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase and Northwestern's Dan Persa.  Each of them is at least as strong a passer as he is a runner, and each of them is much more likely than Shoelace to be drafted as a quarterback by an NFL team.

All of which leads to the question, If Robinson is only the fifth-best quarterback in the Big Ten, can he truly be considered a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy?  The answer is, no, he can't.  At least not until he moves to his more natural position—running back.