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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Carolina Panthers' 1st Rd Draft Surprise: Allen Robinson, WR

Jaws would drop. Fans would stand shocked as Roger Goodell announced, “at 28th pick the Carolina Panthers draft Allen Robinson, wide receiver from Penn State University.”  What? With a name like Benjamin, Cooks, Landry, Beckham, Jr., or Matthews still on the board and Gettleman’s love of the “hogmolly,” how could the accomplished, but rather unacclaimed pick from Penn jump into the 1st? McShay and Kiper will talk of Robinson’s talent and upside, how they like what they saw from him, but they will also drone endlessly that Robinson could been grabbed mid to late 2nd Rd.  

Ludicrous, right?  I mean the team’s 1st Rd. pick on a guy who would be the #3 option for the season.  Shouldn’t the Panthers look for a more immediate impact player? It just wouldn’t make sense—at first glance that is.  Fans may be stunned if Robinson was picked at #28, but they wouldn’t be disappointed.  

There’s a lot overlooked about Robinson that has prevented him from infiltrating top wide receiver draft boards. Robinson has the characteristics of a star NFL wideout: big, good hands, a good route runner, smart, hardworking, and can jump out the gym. Not to mention, he doesn’t appear to have any diva, so often associated with wideouts.  What is most overlooked about this potential star is his road to the draft.  His football past, or lack thereof, has contributed to draft prognosticators’ skepticism.  Robinson could just leap into the 1st Rd, become the #1 receiving option in Carolina after Smith retires and, in the end, be one the best overall talents of 2014 NFL draft.  

If he is so good and has so much potential, why isn’t everyone talking him up?  I mean his draft stock should be trending up by now.  Outside of Pennsylvania, people just haven’t seen enough of him yet to draw national fanfare.  

Robinson’s Road

Robinson wasn't one of those high school kids that had the big press conference on college signing day.  His high school career didn’t garnered that much attention from big college programs.  He had played more basketball than football, missing a full football season from growing pains.  Yea, growing pains! Robinson grew 6” inches just before his sophomore year gained more than 35lbs before he left St. Mary’s prep.

The three star recruit who wasn’t seen as a starter, let alone a star, recorded only 3 catches for 29 yards his freshman year. Still skinny for his height, Robinson continued to grow both physically and as a player when Bill O'Brien took over the troubled program.  Robinson exploded during his sophomore and junior season in O'Brien’s pro-style offense, “winning back to back Big 10 receiver of the year awards.”  Robinson opted to enter the NFL draft, a year too early according to some, after O'Brien’s departure.  

Reasons Robinson Will Succeed

Work Ethic and Football Intelligence:

Robinson wasn’t ordained a star from the beginning.  He had to work hard to prove his worth to the Nittany Lions after a 3 rec/25 yds freshman year.  Instead of becoming downtrodden, Robinson used this as motivation in the offseason, pushing himself mentally and physically.  Commenting on his determination and improvement, Bill O’Brien stated:

Robinson has a lot of skill, talent, and physical ability.  Nevertheless, it’s his maturity and level-headedness that really makes him a special player.  He has a collected demeanor that seems unshakable and isn’t above putting his head down and working hard to get better.  These characteristics usually differentiate talented prospects from top NFL talents.  Former coach O’Brien, now Houston Texan head coach, praised,

Skill Set and Potential

 The hard work paid off in Robinson’s sophomore season, when he became the best wide receiver season in Penn St. history.  After surpassing names like Bobby Ingram with 77 catches in his sophomore campaign, he shattered his own record by catching 97 balls from a freshman during his junior season. He has great size (6’3, 208), with room to get bigger. He’s a surprisingly good route runner for what was a very short college career.  Oh and did I mention the boy can has great hands and can jump out the gym? I mean look at this catch against Michigan.

Final Assessment

It will come down to Robinson’s 40 yard time at the combine.  Everyone wants to know, does this kid have NFL speed?  There are varying reports on his 40 time.  One Penn St. resource unofficially clocked at 4.43 and CBS has him listed much slower at 4.56.  GMs will be looking at this measurement during the combine. He will only get stronger, more refined, and he has the ups, but is he fast?  Can he be a threat downfield? Few are expecting Robinson to a 4.36, but if he clocks a 4.46, he should be a 1st Rd draft pick!  I would be ecstatic if it were the Panthers who landed him. Robinson has the ability to contribute now, that’s not what excites me most about him.  Robinson has the potential to be great.  He’s got it physically and mentally. I’d love to see it happen in Carolina!

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