+Tons of potential
+Getting better every day
+Can embarrass opponents when he gets on a roll
-About as raw as a top 10 pick gets
-Looks confused as a run blocker all too often
-Hard to give him a grade as a pass blocker other than “incomplete”
-Leans on his hands way too much
-Needs to get better pad level
-Doesn’t get a good initial punch as a pass blocker
-Could improve his hand placement as a pass blocker
-Auburn doesn’t trust him with difficult assignments as a pass blocker
Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson is an extremely interesting prospect. There are times that his poor fundamentals and the general deer in the headlights aura that protrudes from his run blocking make you wonder why anyone would consider drafting him in the first round. He has no idea what he is doing half of the time. But then you see all of the beautiful potential Robinson has in games like the SEC Championship. He often looked lost, but when he knew what he was supposed to do, he was dominant in a way I haven’t seen before. Against a likely first rounder and good player in Missouri’s Kony Ealy, Robinson didn’t just dominate. He demoralized, in a way I didn’t know was capable. Ealy eventually reached the point that he basically gave up against beating Robinson in the running game, because he was simply being eaten time and time again by the Frankenstein like monster that is Auburn’s left tackle. That day, Robinson annihilated everyone he touched. That day, I thought Greg Robinson was the number one prospect in this year’s draft. That day, in my mind, Robinson earned the nickname “The Bear of Jordan-Hare.”
One thing I would like to mention; SEC offensive linemen are always the most underrated prospects in all of college football. The fact is, scouts will look at the film of SEC linemen and see many more poor games than they do from linemen in weaker conferences. The reason for this is that there is much more defensive diversity in the SEC than any other conference in college football, making being an offensive lineman in the SEC incredibly difficult. Nearly a fourth of all SEC teams use a 3-4 defense. That may not sound like much, but, compared to every other conference in college football, it is huge. Unlike any non-SEC tackle in this draft class, Greg Robinson has experience blocking massive 3-4 ends such as Garrison Smith and Jeoffrey Pagan, as well as experience against guys like Kony Ealy and Mario Edwards. It may not sound like a big deal, but it really is. Many people were surprised by the struggles of Kansas City’s Eric Fisher during his rookie season, but it seemed predictable to me. Coming out of the MAC, he had never faced a 3-4 defense or a defensive end over 270lbs in his entire career. I can’t emphasize this enough: Eric Fisher never blocked anyone over 270lbs at the collegiate level. Why did so many people take it for granted that he would have any kind of success when he had to block 300lbs defensive ends at the NFL level, such as Fletcher Cox? I don’t know. Modern day tackles have to be athletic enough for guys like Robert Quinn and strong enough for guys like J.J. Watt. No lineman is tested at the collegiate level with respect to the latter type of player outside of the SEC. And that’s why I love SEC linemen. In Robinson’s case, he is strong enough for anyone but he has had struggles against speed rushers.
Robinson has good measurables. He has solid height at 6’5, above average bulk at 320lbs, and outstanding speed with a 4.98 40 yard dash, according to NFLDraftScout.com. In short, physically, he is the closest thing you’ll ever see to another Jason Peters.
Robinson is an outstanding run blocker. The only thing the ever holds him back as a run blocker is fundamentals. He is extremely strong, he gets a great initial punch as a run blocker, and he creates a very wide base. He also has a ton of athleticism and does an outstanding job of engaging in blocks in the second level and driving defenders off the ball. He has outstanding body control and keeps himself from whiffing on many blocking attempts. He does an extremely good job of using his length advantage against linebackers in the second level and prevents them from creating penetration. He makes a pretty good effort when it comes to engaging and sustaining blocks. All of these factors result in Robinson basically devouring everyone he touches as a run blocker assuming he doesn’t lean on his hands. That’s Robinson’s big problem. His pass blocking is more than adequate proof that he has tremendous knee flexibility, but as a run blocker he doesn’t do a great job of using his lower body strength and tries to drive defenders off the ball by leaning on his hands, which always fails for all NFL linemen. If a lineman is leaning on his hands, any decent swim move or push-pull move will make him completely whiff and fall forward, and basically every single time Robinson fails to execute a block, that’s the reason. He also will fail as a run blocker because much of the time he has no idea what he is doing. He doesn’t recognize any kind of defensive front, looks lost when trying to peel off of double team blocks, uses terrible fundamentals in double team blocks, doesn’t keep his head on a swivel, and he frequently blows his assignment. However, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Robinson is a redshirt sophomore. It’s not too surprising that he’s raw. What I find promising is that his fundamentals seem to improve with each passing game. The fact that he is always making progress is an incredibly positive sign, as it means he will likely continue to do so at the NFL level. Guys like Dion Jordan drive me nuts collegiately because they have all the talent in the world but don’t respond to coaching very well and make no discernible improvements in between each off-season. That’s not Robinson. Robinson is raw, but he keeps on getting better. And as long as he is making such significant strides in his game every day, it’s not a bad idea to draft such a raw talent like Robinson in the first round.
Robinson is a below average pass blocker. He has quick feet but he doesn’t really use them well, his hand placement is mediocre at best, he doesn’t get a good initial punch as a pass blocker, and he looks confused most of the time. The most scathing indictment of his pass blocking is Auburn’s pass protection scheme. Auburn constantly will use a very odd protection to keep Robinson from having to block speed rushers. A typical slide protection will feature something like every single lineman blocking the guy to their right, for example, while the running back blocks the leftmost pass rusher. This puts the running back against the defensive end and the tackle usually against a 3 technique, or, if you are facing Alabama, a non-threatening on passing downs, 300lbs 5 technique. But Auburn doesn’t use this. About a 3rd of their pass pro sets feature this concept, except, instead of the running back blocking the leftmost pass rusher, the right guard pulls and tries to block the leftmost pass rusher while Robinson blocks the 3 technique. I’ve seen this scheme before in other teams, but with no where near as much frequency as Auburn, plus Auburn is the definitely the only team I’ve seen use it on a non-play action pass (yes, a guard pull on a non-play action pass). This often results in disaster for Auburn, and it strikes me as a ridiculously difficult assignment for right guard Chad Slade. But from the perspective of a scout, the fact that Auburn feels like it must use that protection scheme strikes me as a vote of no confidence in Robinson’s pass blocking. The fundamentals need a lot of work. He really needs to get better pad level and get his arms lower as a pass blocker. He leans on his hands a bit, but more importantly he doesn’t use his strength to deliver a strong initial punch nor does he engage in a block with his thumbs up, thereby allowing his elbows to bend outward and eliminating the usefulness of his tremendous length. He absolutely must learn to bend better, to engage in the block with his hands lower and more inside of the shoulder pads, and deliver a much better initial blow. He also must learn more complex pass protection schemes and show some feel for recognizing and picking up defensive line stunts. He is a real project in this respect, but his quickness, width, and length give him potential as a pass blocker.
Ultimately, Robinson is loaded with potential. His strength, size, power, and athleticism give him an incredibly high ceiling, but, at the same time, he really has a long way to go.
NFL Comparison: Jason Peters. Robinson’s physical skill set is that rare, but it is too early to say if his fundamentals will develop to the point he can become half the player Peters is. Still, the week-by-week progress he has made at the collegiate level is quite encouraging. But, in such a strong draft class, do you really need to take such a risk?
Grade: 97 (worthy of a top 10 pick)
Projection: 98 (will be a top 5 pick)