Before the season, Greg Robinson wasn't quite on the NFL radar. It's tough to believe when you look at him. He's 6'5 and 320 pounds, but carries it well and can move in space. His strength stood out in the Southeastern Conference, and in many ways he appears to be the prototype for the position. But as a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Robinson somehow managed to take the college football world by surprise, much like the Auburn team he helped anchor.
Now an early entrant into the 2014 draft, Robinson has draft media buzzing and could to be the first offensive tackle off the board in May. While Auburn was running all over teams on the way to the national title game, it was often Robinson who was blowing open holes in opposing defenses and making life easy for Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. He'll be rewarded for it in May.
For a player his size, Robinson moves pretty well. He shows the ability to get to the second level of the defense and has the body control to engage blocks once he gets there. Robinson is fast enough to get to the edge and hold off defenders outside the tackle box as well. He shows the ability to ride defenders out of the play with relative ease.
Teams may have a tough time getting a feel for just how well Robinson can pass block because he wasn't asked to do it often enough at Auburn. At least, not in the traditional sense. On the few occasions per game in which Robinson dropped back into a pass set and had to mirror pass rushers, he showed some flaws. For starters, he seems to be a bit lazy with his hands at times. Robinson needs to be more aggressive with his punch to get his hands on a pass rusher before the pass rusher is able to get inside his pads.
Part of Robinson's problem is anticipation. He doesn't anticipate the snap particularly well and has trouble anticipating what rushers are planning to do. As a pass blocker, Robinson needs to get a bit more aggressive. He ends up lunging at defenders and waist bending because he relies too much on his length and natural strength instead of technique. Given his movement skills, it stands to reason Robinson could improve his quickness. It's a matter of repetitions that he just hasn't had to this point.
Robinson is the best run blocker in this draft class. He comes off the ball with so much force and sustains blocks. He has a nasty attitude in the running game and is constantly finishing off his blocks. Players with Robinson's combination of strength and leg drive can make an easy transition to run blocking in the NFL. Think of D.J. Fluker with better movement skills. Robinson can get to the second level of the defense in a hurry and can engage defenders in space.
Robinson is not without flaw as a run blocker, though. He sometimes drops his head and allows his head to get over his lower body while run blocking. He's strong enough to get away with it in college but may not have the same results in the NFL.
Robinson will instantly be one of the strongest offensive linemen in the NFL as a rookie. He's a powerful run blocker who explodes out of his stance and blows defenders off the football consistently. Robinson generates a ton of power from his lower half and drives defenders. That's not to say he doesn't have upper body strength, either. Robinson consistently controls defenders with his hands so well once he's able to engage.
Technical issues may hold Robinson back early in his career. The aforementioned waist bending, slow hands and kick slide in pass protection are all fixable but noteworthy issues. He also has some flaws in his run blocking technique that he gets away with because of how strong and athletic he is. He needs to improve his balance in all aspects of his game and learn how to use his body a bit more efficiently.
Players like Robinson don't come along too often. His technical flaws and inexperience definitely stand out, but Robinson is the type of player who won't have any issues translating physically to the NFL. The physical tools he has to work with will entice some team to take a chance on him in the top 10. Compared to Jake Matthews, our No. 1 offensive tackle, Robinson is more physically gifted but far less advanced in his technique. Robinson has a real chance to be the first offensive tackle taken in May.