Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson can be the next Devin Hester
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com February 26, 2013 10:23PM
Observations from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis:
◆ Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is an intriguing prospect for an NFL team looking for the next Devin Hester.
Robinson, still recovering from nerve damage after a shoulder injury he suffered in October, is a phenomenal athlete with leadership skills and a great attitude about making it in the NFL as a wide receiver and kick returner. When he was asked about playing cornerback in the NFL, he didn’t flinch.
‘‘Cornerback? If teams see me that way, then I need to start practicing for it,’’ the 5-11, 195-pound Robinson said. ‘‘Right now, I’m practicing playing wide receiver and kick returner.’’
Robinson said he’s 60 percent recovered from the shoulder injury. He struggled at receiver at the Senior Bowl. But scouts were impressed that he didn’t back down from the challenge.
‘‘No excuses,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘I’m out there, and I’m going 100 percent. That’s me. I’m not going to have any excuse, and I’m going to try my best. That’s the only thing I can do.’’
Robinson’s inexperience at receiver and his shoulder injury will be issues. But the 4.43 40-yard dash he ran at the combine is sure to keep NFL teams considering the possibilities he presents for any football team.
◆ Manti Te’o still will be a first-round pick in the April 25 draft.
At the peak of his award-winning season, Te’o was a possible top-five selection. After running a 4.81 40 at the combine this week, he has been dropped into the second round in some mock drafts.
He’ll probably wind up somewhere in between on draft day — right around the No. 20 pick owned by the Bears. Though some observers were not satisfied with Te’o’s performance in a news conference Saturday, the ‘‘girlfriend hoax’’ episode will have little or no impact on his draft status.
If Te’o runs his 4.7 40 at Notre Dame’s pro day next month, he’ll be back where he started before the 2012 season — a high-floor linebacker who could be a standout player in the right spot in the right system. Nobody thought he was a burner in the first place.
◆ The athleticism of the offensive linemen was hard to ignore at the combine. Terron Armstead, a 6-5, 304-pound offensive tackle from downstate Cahokia and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, ran a 4.71 40. Lane Johnson, a 6-6, 302-pound offensive tackle from Oklahoma, ran a 4.72. The previous best 40 time for an offensive lineman at the combine was 4.84 — by Missouri Southern’s Allen Barbre in 2007.
Johnson could be a top-10 pick after his impressive combine performance that stunned some longtime draft analysts.
‘‘Are you kiddin’ me?’’ NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. ‘‘His 40-yard dash time was faster than [Ravens wide receiver] Anquan Boldin. His vertical of 34 inches was the same as [Bengals wide receiver] A.J. Green. This is an offensive tackle at 300-plus pounds. His broad jump at 9 [feet]-10 [inches] was the same as [Patriots running back] Stevan Ridley.
‘‘Think about those three things for a 300-pound offensive tackle and put that in perspective with what he can be. And he had a good, solid week at the Senior Bowl. I think the sky’s the limit.’’
◆ On the other hand, Mayock was not fazed by the unimpressive combine performance of Alabama guard Chance Warmack, whom Mayock ranked as the No. 1 player in the draft coming in.
Warmack was measured at 6-2, 317. He ran a 5.49 40 and had a 9-2 broad jump.
‘‘I knew he wouldn’t run well,’’ Mayock said. ‘‘So far on tape, he’s the best football player I saw this year. Whatever he ran or jumped wasn’t going to change that — especially for a guard.
‘‘What he does 20-40 yards downfield, I don’t care about. I care about his explosion and short-area quickness, his ability to get to the next level but not what he ran in the 40.’’