Auburn boasts the Coach of the Year in Gus Malzahn, Heisman finalist in Tre Mason, and a candidate for the 2014 Heisman in Nick Marshall, but the Tigers’ best player en route to the BCS National Championship Game was Greg Robinson.
The 6-foot-5, 320-pound redshirt sophomore left tackle has been a dominating force for the nation’s No. 1 rushing attack that produced more than 335 yards per game and helped keep Marshall upright in the pocket. After the SEC Championship Game in which the Tigers ran for 545 yards and scored 59 points, Malzahn told Bryan Matthews:
“I have to believe our offensive line is one of the best in college football. Teams are knowing we’re going to run it and our offensive line has done a great job. Coach J.B. Grimes deserves a lot of credit too. It’s a thing of beauty to watch those things work.”
The job of the first-year offensive line coach Grimes is a big reason why Robinson has turned into an All-SEC performer and a potential top-10 pick in the NFL Draft should he forgo his remaining two years of eligibility.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper ranked Robinson No. 9 on his most recent big board saying, “This year, he was dominant, with increased strength making him closer to that complete package at tackle. Could become a special player at tackle.”
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah echoed Kiper’s breakdown of the Robinson, whom I believe is Auburn’s best player and one who could rival Jameis Winston as the best player on the field in the BCS Championship Game.
I’m studying the Auburn offense…LT Greg Robinson is outstanding! Quick feet, easy bender, quick/strong punch, finisher. Big time player!
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 16, 2013
Jeremiah wrote on NFL.com that Robinson is “smooth, effortless, and dominant” which he says are three ideal traits for a left tackle.
He has been instrumental in Mason earning an invite to the Heisman ceremony as he has literally made a habit of tossing opposing defensive linemen around while providing Marshall the time and the room in the pocket to make plays with his arm and his feet.
The draft has been kind to offensive linemen, including last year when three of the first four picks were offensive tackles, so is Robinson thinking about making the leap? Will the BCS National Championship Game vs. Florida State be his final one in an Auburn uniform?
“I’ve really been putting it off,” Robinson tells Joel Erickson of Al.com on his NFL decision. “I’ve just been talking to my family about it, it’s a big thing. But I haven’t made a decision yet. I haven’t had time.”
Robinson could declare for the draft after the bowl game, especially if Auburn wins and he dominates. However, I’d recommend a return for 2014 where Auburn should have another national championship caliber team — especially if Mason returns — where he could be a candidate to go No. 1 overall.
Four Auburn players have gone No. 1 overall in the draft (most recently Cam Newton in 2011), but if he returns for another year under the tutelage of Grimes the sky is the limit for Robinson who could be the fifth.
Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and Google and email him at SchmidtPatrick@gmail.com for media inquiries.