Former Michigan Wolverines multi-purpose athlete Denard “Shoelace” Robinson can be one of the most electrifying talents in all of college football when he is 100% healthy, and focused. Over the course of his last three seasons in Ann Arbor, Robinson has been on the field primarily as a quarterback, but if you ask some, he was never used correctly. Some NFL scouts believe his best opportunity to succeed on Sundays is at another skill position all-together.
According to reports, Robinson will be playing wideout during the Senior Bowl and may even take a few handoffs, in an attempt to showcase his variety of skills to these NFL scouts. While it’s often a knee-jerk reaction to move talented running-type quarterbacks to wideout in an effort to utilize their straight-line speed and ability to consistently add yards after carry, Robinson could be a natural fit here.
All too many times, the move from quarterback to wide receiver is a last-ditch effort for running quarterbacks to show they have what it takes to play another position in the NFL, since their future will not be under center. I truly believe Robinson will be the exception to the rule here, a la Antwaan Randle El, who made the transition from dynamic quarterback with the Nebraska Cornhuskers to one of the most consistent and feared possession receivers in the NFL over a very productive career.
As NFL draft pundits, in particular, have noted, whether or not this is a successful transition for Robinson will have to do in large part with the dependability of his hands, and how often he can turn difficult throws into great catches. There’s no doubt Robinson has the athletic ability to do so, but with the lack of technique practice the other receivers on the draft board have had prior to now, he will have plenty of work ahead of him to catch up.
I know this, however, Robinson is a tough kid who can be as fun to watch as anyone when he’s on his game. If I’m an NFL General Manager, I’m definitely watching the Senior Bowl closely to see how he performs. Who knows, he could be a diamond in the rough, and the next great transitional athlete.