A two-year starter for the Tigers following a redshirt year in 2011, Robinson struggled in his first playing time like most freshmen but blossomed under the guidance of J.B. Grimes and back in the familiar offense of Gus Malzahn. Dominant in the run game and improving as a pass blocker, Robinson's athleticism is off the charts and something Malzahn said NFL scouts will see for themselves this week.
"When we recruited Greg we felt like he was a big-time athlete," Malzahn said. "We really felt liked his potential once he figured out what was going on. I think you'll see, once the Combine hits, his stock will even go up higher. He's going to really do some amazing things, in my opinion, at the Combine that will separate himself."
Calling Robinson a "special and unique person", Malzahn said that he favors comparably to former Arkansas standout Tony Ugoh. Expected to be a Top 10 pick in the first round and likely in the Top Five, Robinson could be the first of two Tigers take in the first round of the 2014 draft thanks to a surge from defensive end Dee Ford late in the season and at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
Despite injuries early in the season and playing at less than 100 percent until late in his senior year, Ford was a difference-maker for Coach Rodney Garner up front in 2013. Finishing the season with 10 ½ sacks, 14 ½ tackles for losses and 17 additional quarterback pressures while part of a heavy rotation up front, Ford was a terror against Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. That set him up to make a big move in Mobile and he did just that.
The most impressive defensive player all week at the Senior Bowl, Ford capped things off with two sacks in an MVP performance at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in his final college game. Watching Ford grow from undersized end to standout as a senior through hard work and determination, Malzahn said some team will be fortunate to add him to the roster.
"Very happy for Dee," Malzahn said. "Dee is one of our hardest workers and he came so far in a year. He's playing with a lot of confidence. He earns everything he gets, he has that blue collar mentality. Very proud of him and he'll make somebody a very good, reliable football player that can rush the passer."
Robinson and Ford will be joined in Indianapolis by Auburn teammates Tre Mason, Chris Davis and Steven Clark. Coming off a monster junior season when he wound up as one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, Mason has an opportunity to really help himself with a strong workout at the combine.
Rated as one of the Top 10 backs in the draft and a likely second or third round selection at the moment, a strong 40-yard dash time would equal big things for Mason moving forward. Rushing for a school-record 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns last year, Mason showed the ability to be an every-down back in the toughest league in America.
One of the most recognizable players in college football by the end of the 2013 season for his play against Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Davis' ability as a defensive back got overshadowed for his field goal return for a touchdown. A player looking to improve his draft stock and get into the middle rounds, Davis is in a similar situation as Mason needing a blazing 40-yard dash time to catch the eye of an NFL team looking for a versatile cornerback and return man.
Rounding out Auburn's combine participants is senior punter Steven Clark. Averaging 42.6 yards on 52 punts as a senior, Clark became adept at pinning opponents deep inside their own territory. With just four touchbacks the entire season, Clark finished with 20 kicks inside the 20-yard line for the year.
NFL Combine Position Workout Schedule at Lucas Oil Stadium
Feb. 22: Tight ends, offensive linemen, specialists
Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Feb. 25: Defensive backs