In his first draft as general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dave Caldwell took a gamble on University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the fifth round. The 135th overall pick was a shifty player better known for making plays than for quarterback skill. Around the web the pick was lauded as a good value that late in the draft and Robinson’s versatility was expected to shine early. Based on his 4,495 yards on the ground and his gaudy 6.2 average rush during his collegiate career, we were all pretty high on him coming to Jacksonville.
I wasn’t the only one disappointed in his 2013 production.
Robinson’s impressive collegiate numbers and his ability to improvise did not translate well in his first year with the Jags. Labeled an “OW” or offensive weapon on the Jaguars’ roster, Robinson was expected to do more than provide a measly 3.3 yards per attempt. His long of 24 was nothing to write home about and his inability to find the endzone on offense or special teams was not promising either.
Fast forward to the third game of the preseason and the quarterback turned offensive weapon turned running back is finally starting to show that he is turning the corner and becoming a true NFL-caliber running back. Sure, it’s just the preseason, but his 5.9 yards per attempt (on 18 carries) are leaps and bounds ahead of his 3.3 during the regular season and 3.3 (on 39 attempts) in the 2013 preseason. I think we’re seeing Robinson turn a corner as an athlete heading into his sophomore season.
Robinson is not expected to be more than a versatile role player for the Jaguars in 2014. But if he is able to showcase his signature collegiate electric play and keep his yards per attempt up then we may see Robinson leeching more carries off expected-workhorse Toby Gerhart. At a minimum he will provide a nice change of pace from the lumbering free agent acquisition. I’m hopeful (and tentatively confident) that Robinson will be much better in 2014.