Denard Robinson Combine: Athletic Michigan Star Will Surprise in NFL

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IFebruary 25, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Denard Robinson speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

We've seen plenty of dual-threat quarterbacks and quarterbacks-turned-receivers fail in the NFL.

But Denard Robinson's athleticism and intangibles, combined with a change of heart, will see the Michigan Wolverines star surprise in the pros.

Robinson ran the 40-yard dash in an officialย 4.43 seconds at the NFL combine on Sunday. It was the 10th-best time among all quarterbacks, receivers and running backs in Indianapolis. It wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't bad, either.

Robinson's first good move was trying out as a receiver. He didn't have the accuracy to be taken seriously as a quarterback in the NFL. His second good move was working his butt off to impress scouts and draft analysts as a receiver on Sunday.

Kareem Copeland of NFL.com wrote:

(NFL Network analyst Mike) Mayock called him smart, tough and quick. Robinson also caught the ball well and didn't have a single drop during the gauntlet drill despite nerve damage that affects his right hand. Pass-catching skills remain the biggest question, but he did well in that area during the workout.

We already know Robinson is pretty fast. We also know that he was a leader at Michigan, even when head coach Brady Hoke replaced him with Devin Gardner under center later in his senior season. ย 

Robinson is quick and explosive, and he can be productive in the NFL if he's utilized properly. We've seen NFL teams take chances on raw or incomplete prospects, envisioning said prospects in creative schemes to maximize their value. Robinson fits the mold as a slot receiver, running back/receiver hybrid or a return man.

As long as Robinson can exhibit adequate hands in the pros (like he did on Sunday), he can be effective in the right role. He's not only displayed the athleticism to transition to the next level, but he's also clearly shown the work ethic, notably improving as a receiver since Senior Bowl week in late January.

So what if Robinson likely won't be a complete receiver? He's a late-round, low-risk, high-reward prospect who can be worked into the offense as a legitimate contributor to an NFL team.

As long as teams understand Robinson's limitations and have a game plan moving forward with the 5'10", 199-pound Michigan product, he's a worthy risk who figures to surprise in the pros.

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