COMMENTARY | Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is a guy who appreciates the opportunity at hand.
In every interview since being drafted, Robinson is glowing. He has that "kid in a candy store" demeanor while joking around with interviewers. You seldom find him not smiling. He really seems like a guy who is soaking in this rare opportunity that he has - to play America's most popular sport at the highest level.
Four years ago, when Robinson arrived at the University of Michigan, the coaching staff was not entirely sure how they were going to fit the true freshman into the gameplan. However, they agreed that he was just too talented to keep off the field. They ultimately played him at quarterback, where he thrilled fans with his athleticism and tremendous playmaking ability for four seasons.
However, now that he is an NFL player, he is taking a particularly realistic approach to his career.
There are some players with tremendous athletic ability who play quarterback in college and expect to continue playing quarterback at the next level. They don't compromise. Robinson takes a more open-minded approach.
During pre-draft interviews, Robinson repeatedly said that, once drafted, he would help contribute to his new team any way he could, whether it be playing quarterback, or another position. The humble Florida native is not naïve to the fact that his athletic ability is far superior to his passing skills. So when the Jaguars selected the Michigan standout in the fifth round of this year's draft, nobody really knew what position he would play - not even Robinson himself, who referred to himself as an "OW" (offensive weapon).
While "OW" is a clever title for a playmaker that lacks a true position, it is not a real position. Well, at least it wasn't a real position. That was until the Jaguars officially listed Robinson's position as "OW." That's right. Whenever (if ever) the Jaguars have a Monday Night game in the future, Robinson will not introduce himself as quarterback, running back, or wide receiver. He will introduce himself as "Denard Robinson; Offensive Weapon; University of Michigan."
In an offense that already includes Cecil Shorts III, Justin Blackmon, and Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars still plan on getting Robinson the ball as much as possible. GM David Caldwell has made it clear that the team plans on getting Robinson in on 10 to 15 snaps per game, which is not bad for a raw player that lacks a true position.
If there were a player coming out of this year's draft to break ground and concoct a new position, it would fittingly be Robinson.
Robinson has a solid, Percy Harvin-esque build at 5'10, 200 pounds and ran a 4.43 40-yard dash during the combine. He has elite top-end speed, acceleration, and his change of direction ability is nothing short of breathtaking. Mike Mayock of NFL.com also raved about Robinson's toughness and his ability to absorb contact rather than shy away from it.
What may be Robinson's greatest asset outside of his speed is his vision. While he played running back in spurts during his senior season, he seemed to have an innate ability to read blocks and use them to his advantage, which is an attribute that takes some runners years to learn. If Robinson gets the ball with some open space, he has the ability to really carve up a defense.
The team should run a "diamond formation" that includes both Robinson and Jones-Drew in the backfield at the same time, which would confuse defenses and keep them on their toes. Robinson could also be used in the "wildcat" formation, given his athleticism and past quarterback experience, though the play should not be overused as it was a few years ago, when teams tried to incorporate the wildcat formation into their offense. You could even insert him as a read-option quarterback from time to time. Whatever you can do to take advantage of his skill-set should be done.
Robinson does not necessarily have natural hands (in a receiver sense), so swing plays and pitches will (and should) likely be when Robinson touches the ball the most, as it gives him the best chance to get the ball in open space.
How good can Robinson be in the NFL? He could be very good, if used properly. The man who lacks a true position could potentially be a real "diamond in the rough" football player on their hands and a true fan favorite.
Players as talented and willing to learn as Robinson do not come around very often. The Jaguars may have snagged themselves a gem. He truly is an offensive weapon.
Matt Gonzales is a Jacksonville native who has been following the Jaguars for the last decade. He graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in Journalism and is a contributing freelance writer for both Yahoo! Sports and Fanspeak.com.
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattgonzales25
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