This kicks off a series of articles that we’ll be putting up here at All Over The Hill that give names of college prospects we believe the Redskins either are targeting, or should target. In this case, we’re taking “should.”
After mortgaging the short-term draft future away to the St. Louis Rams last March, they enter this April’s draft without a first-round pick, but with two fifth-round picks. They’re also coming off a season in which incorporating the run-option into their offense led them to the number-one rushing attack in all of football, and a season in which Griffin’s final play resulted in a torn ACL and LCL. Griffin is projected to return early (if not on time for Week 1) next season, but now the coaching staff has that seed planted in their heads that every time they call an option play, there’s always a chance that Griffin could suffer the same fate he did against Seattle in the playoffs. Washington doesn’t want to just get rid of the option, but they also don’t want to consistently put Griffin in the line of fire coming off a major injury.
Enter Denard Robinson.
The quarterback out of Michigan is not high on many analysts draft boards, and presumably not high on any teams’ either. However, he brings a similar (though inferior) skill set to the table that Griffin does, and could be exactly what the Redskins need to keep their star quarterback on the field and off the operating table.
Towards the end of last season as well as in last month’s Senior Bowl, coaches were lining up Robinson as both a running back and wide receiver to take advantage of his speed, his number-one asset. This is a college quarterback that ran a 4.32 40-yard dash, and also posted a QB Rating of 126.6 or better in his final three seasons at Michigan. It’s clear that that won’t transfer to the pro game, but Robinson has a chance to turn into something similar to what scouts hoped Tim Tebow would be in the NFL: the ultimate flex player. Robinson can certainly run, he’s got a capable arm, he can juke and spin and cut with the best of them, and he’s starting to develop a pair of hands at the receiver position. He’s got above-average height as a wide receiver (6’0), which also makes him a threat as a pass-catching running back. So, he’s not limited to being just a backup quarterback, just a wide receiver, or just a running back. He can do it all. Running back option, wide receiver option, QB Power runs, flea flickers; he’s trickier than Roger Goodell’s mysterious $18-million salary spike, and comes at a much more affordable price.
And that’s the other thing that should make Robinson so appealing to the Redskins. Despite missing a first-rounder, they still have seven picks in this draft, including four in the final three rounds. It’s safe to say that based on all recent reports, Robinson’s draft stock is surprisingly low at the moment, and in all likelihood he could be had for just a fifth-round draft choice. In the event that Robinson has an outstanding combine and his draft stock rises, that should only fuel Washington’s interest and motivate them to use a fourth-rounder to get him. There are some needs that the Redskins will need to fill this offseason (safety, backup linebacker, offensive line, cornerback), but Robinson requires just one of Washington’s seven total draft choices, and there’s also free agency. A fourth-round or later draft pick is not a deal-breaker in my mind, and it shouldn’t be to Bruce Allen either. The Redskins had a quality defense for several seasons prior to making the playoffs last year, but last year they proved that a defense alone does not get a team to the playoffs. There’s more than one side of the football, and drafting Denard Robinson could make the other side just a little more dangerous.