Grading the St. Louis Rams’ First Round Selection of Greg Robinson
There was a lot of speculation prior the NFL Draft that the St. Louis Rams would trade back out of the No. 2 spot, particularly if the Houston Texans passed on Jadeveon Clowney with the top pick. However, such a trade never came to fruition, and the Rams did what most expected by selecting Auburn tackle Greg Robinson No. 2 overall.
Perhaps no player in the draft enjoyed a bigger rise in his stock than Robinson, as he maximized every aspect of the draft process until he was viewed as worthy of a top 3 pick. Robinson is a freak athlete who, despite being 6’5″, 332 lbs, shows incredible mobility and range. Robinson is a dominant run blocker who is more than capable of finishing blocks against NFL competition. In a division like the NFC West, that is a vital attribute.
Robinson has unlimited potential, but he is far from a finished product. He is very penalty prone, and he needs a lot of work as a pass protector. Robinson is prone to reaching out and grabbing when he is out of position, instead of moving his feet and re-setting. There is no excuse for someone with his athleticism to make those kinds of mistakes. The Rams will coach that out of him, and there is no reason to think he can’t develop as a pass protector.
Part of what makes Robinson so valuable is his versatility. He played both guard and tackle in college, and early indications are that he will begin his professional career at left guard. Of course, Jake Long is coming off a knee injury and is 29 years old, so the plan is to move Robinson to left tackle sooner rather than later. If Long rebounds, then Robinson will stay at guard or move to right tackle for the time being. Starting at guard is actually the best case scenario, because it maximizes Robinson’s outstanding run blocking while hiding him as a pass protector while he develops those skills.
There were some who wanted to see the Rams take Sammy Watkins with this pick, or the safer option at tackle, Jake Matthews. However, the Rams went for the home run with Robinson, who has the potential to become an elite left tackle. While he certainly needs development before that happens, the risk is not as high as some have made it out to be. Worst case scenario, Robinson struggles at tackle and becomes a high level guard for a long time, a la Levi Brown or Robert Gallery. That’s not what the Rams are hoping for of course, and Robinson’s development will be interesting to watch. There are some minor concerns, but the Rams made the right pick here.