Leading up to the NFL draft on May 8-10, Shutdown Corner will examine some of the most interesting prospects in the class, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
6-foot-5, 332 pounds
2013 stats: Started every game at left tackle for an SEC championship team that had two 1,000-yard rushers, Tre Mason and Nick Marshall
40-yard dash: 4.92 seconds (official time at NFL scouting combine)
The good: On the first five plays of the BCS Championship Game against Florida State, the man Robinson was blocking hit the ground four times. FSU linebacker Christian Jones needed to do an acrobatic move when Robinson pass blocked him to stay up and keep it from being 5-for-5. That sample size means nothing and Robinson wasn't perfect in the game (later in that first drive Seminoles defensive end Mario Edwards got under Robinson and ran him over) but it is a glimpse at Robinson's power and ability. He's a mountain of a man who moves exceptionally well, and is a dominant force at left tackle. He's also a great athlete. Against Florida State, Auburn's first touchdown came on a screen pass in which Robinson got out in front and delivered a crushing block downfield to spring Tre Mason into the end zone. Most 332-pound men can't move that well. His athleticism was confirmed at the combine, when his workout was the one that created the most buzz in Indianapolis. He ran a 4.92 40-yard dash, second among all offensive linemen, and his 9-foot-5 broad jump was tied for third best. He's a great physical specimen and his performance on the field matches that. He's explosive off the snap and as a result he's a punisher in the run game, and he's nimble enough to protect the quarterback. Watch Robinson play against Alabama, or in the SEC championship against Missouri, and you'll often see the opponent across from him getting blown off the ball in the run game. He's a force at left tackle.
The bad: There's just not much to complain about. There's a chance he might struggle early on in his NFL career because he doesn't have a ton of experience, having played just two years of college ball (he redshirted his freshman year). He'll have to work on some technique issues, such as getting overextended too often and losing balance, and getting too high at times. But that should improve with experience. Unless you think that some of his technical mistakes can't be fixed, there's not much about his game that isn't very impressive.
The verdict: Over the past few years the safest pick in the NFL draft has been, generally, a top left tackle. There's not a huge bust rate at the position, and it fills a need. Robinson will be that pick for some team, a safe yet important investment in the top few picks. For example, even though the rumor mill has the Falcons trading up to draft defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, what would be wrong with the Falcons ending up with Robinson, who is a pretty good bet to be at very least an above-average left tackle for the rest of quarterback Matt Ryan's prime? Teams like Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville are in the top five but aren't going to be drafting a left tackle, so it'll be interesting to see where Robinson lands. But if you looked back in 10 years and said Robinson was the best player out of this draft class, would it be all that surprising?
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