Josh Robinson knew he was rolling the dice when he opted to leave college a year early from Central Florida to make himself eligible for the 2012 draft. He had put together an impressive body of work as a three-year starter, but knew that his football future – or at least the start of his career – would be predicated by a strong performance at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Not only did he perform well, he was one of the most impressive players to take part in the annual rookie cattle call. He was the fastest player there, running a blazing 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash, led all cornerbacks in the broad jump with a leap of 11 feet, 1 inch, had the fastest time in the agility-based three-cone drill (running it in a time of 6.55 seconds) and posted one of the best vertical jumps of the session (38½ inches).
Draft stock can collapse with poor showings at Indy. Robinson couldn't have done much better and said he was elated by his impressive showing.
"It was awesome," Robinson said. "That whole experience at the Combine was a great thing. It's something you dream of doing as a kid, so I really enjoyed that."
When Robinson spoke with the local media, it sounded like he was having a bigger party than the one going on at Radio City Music Hall. He may have. He wasn't surrounded by strangers in face paint. He was surrounded by those who meant the most to him.
"Right now, we are at my church, so we allowed everyone to come and just experience it with me," Robinson said. "We had a great turnout – a lot of people from near and far, a lot of church family. It was a big thing with all of us here right now."
The elation going through the church was the culmination of his lifelong goal to become an NFL player, and both he and the Vikings believe he is only scratching the surface of what he can do as a player. It is said that you can't teach speed and he has that like few others. He said that is his primary NFL calling card.
"I can react quickly," Robinson said. "Of course, everybody has speed at the next level so I can never really say that is a strength. But I always tell everybody that I'm versatile. I can do whatever you want me to do – whether it's to be a safety or guard the flat, whether it be in man or zone, anything. That's something I've done at UCF. The ability to play special teams, that's something that has helped me throughout my career."
He said he and those who joined him at the church were waiting for his name to be called, but he wasn't especially keeping his fingers crossed that it would be the Vikings that would be the ones submitting the card with his name on it.
"I didn't really have that much contact with them after the Combine," Robinson said. "I spoke with them at the Combine and they liked me then. I'm just thankful they did draft me to give me that opportunity to prove to the world that I can get it done, that I come from a great school that prepared me to face anything, any team, any program, especially under Coach (George) O'Leary."
Robinson said he is willing to fill whatever role is asked of him and that he brings a lot of versatility to the table. He can line up over a receiver in the slot. He can play on the outside. He can play press coverage. He can play in a zone look. He can be a dynamic special-teams player. He was asked to do a lot at UCF and said his game has improved as result of the knowledge he has taken in being asked to do so many different things.
Although some believe he would have been a potential first-rounder had he returned for his senior season, he said he wants to get his NFL career started ASAP and start making believers in Minnesota and throughout the NFL as he did at Central Florida.
"My primary motivation was that I could get it done, that I have the ability to be a shutdown corner and one of the best corners to play the game," Robinson said. "That was something that really motivated me, to want to pursue this career and try to accomplish my goals."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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