Auburn's Greg Robinson has made the transition from talented redshirt in 2011 to dominating blocker and certain early first-round draft choice in 2014. While it all came together for this Tiger last season, getting to that level of play has been a work in progress for Robinson. A player who didn't begin playing offensive tackle until his junior season in high school, he will leave Auburn after having one of the top seasons in school history for an offensive lineman. Through it all he has kept a smile on his face all the while working on his craft. Now it is paying off and he said that his time as a Tiger will always hold a special place in his heart.
The Tigers were in transition, especially on the offensive line, where both starting tackles had graduated after 2011. There were no veterans ready to step in and replace them, leaving the door wide open for a young player like Robinson to step in and secure a starting spot. Standing 6-foot-6, 315 pounds with a lot of natural ability, Robinson easily secured a starting job at the vacant left tackle spot. It was a long overdue opportunity for him to step on a college football field.
Accomplishing that goal while the team slumped through a 3-9 season did not stop Robinson from playing at the high level he showed as a senior in high school. "Being able to play is something I had been waiting on for a long time after watching from the sidelines in 2011," he said during his red-shirt freshman campaign. "I was just anxious to get the shot to play."
The 2013 season brought a massive change in the culture at Auburn. Former assistant, Gus Malzahn returned to the campus as the Tigers' new head coach and immediately re-installed his fast-paced offensive attack. In order for his system to work, he needed big, physical, yet cat-quick bookend tackles. Gazing at his roster, he saw he had that pair in Robinson manning the left side and red-shirt freshman Avery Young ready to fill the void on the right side.
Robinson earned All-American and All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2013. He had 172 knockdown blocks, most by clearing rush lanes for a pair of Tigers ball carriers that each gained 1,000 yards on the ground, just the third time in school history multiple players reached the 1,000-yard level in the same season.
The left tackle's acclaim as a "man playing against boys" had scouts flocking to campus in droves. What they saw was this youngster producing a national-best 25 touchdown-resulting blocks. Auburn would capitalize on that blocking prowess to lead the nation in rushing (4,596 yards) and rank 12th in scoring (553 points) on the way to a meeting vs. Florida State in the BCS Championship Game.
Auburn University Tigers
Robinson has a developing frame that could carry at least another 20 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness. He has a thick upper body with broad shoulders, thick muscle development, good arm length and strong hands. He has good lower body thickness with a big bubble, wide hips and developed thighs and calves. He has good leg drive and lower-body strength to gain advantage and leverage coming off the snap.
The first thing you notice about Robinson is his quickness and flexibility in his kick slide. He has classic natural knee bend with good hip snap to redirect and mirror the edge rushers. He is nimble moving his feet in his pass set-up, retreating fluidly while maintaining body control. He shows good urgency and leg drive coming off the snap, demonstrating the knee bend to drop his weight well. He shows good strength to create and hold the rush lanes and is very consistent attaining strong anchor. His balance and flexibility allows him to change direction fluidly and shows very good acceleration when blocking into the second level. He is quick to readjust and plays on his feet, showing good body control and balance operating in space. His lower body flexibility lets him recover to anchor and he is very smooth changing direction to get in front on traps and pulls, demonstrating very good foot speed when having to run long distances (seven of his 25 touchdown-resulting blocks came from at least 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage in 2013).
Robinson is a highly instinctive athlete. It is very easy for him to learn and retain plays. He is a savvy player who knows the nuances and the assignments of his teammates and opponents. He brings an aggressive nature to his game, more like a defender's mentality, yet plays in control and is not prone to mistakes (only three penalties on 1,709 plays). He is quick enough to move to guard at the next level, especially with his field awareness and vision to easily spot stunts and games. In pass protection, Robinson is very capable of locating and neutralizing the edge rushers, but is more known for his dominating drive blocks. He excels at chipping to the second level and picks up coverages quickly, delivering 25 touchdown-resulting blocks while leading a formidable ground attack that registered at least four touchdowns in six consecutive games. His grasp of the offensive scheme rivals that of his coaches and it is very rare to see him caught out of position due to his vision, alertness and feel for the flow of the play.
Robinson competes with tremendous toughness and good aggression. He has that defensive lineman's mentality, as he loves the physical battle in the trenches. He gives total effort until the whistle and will play with injuries that would normally sideline others. He has a solid work ethic in practices, the training room and will put in extra hours watching film. He prepares himself well vs. his upcoming opponent and works hard to finish off his assignment on a regular basis. In 2013, he began to exert his dominant nature, working feverishly to finish blocks and will not hesitate to intimidate his opponent in the process (see Western Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida Atlantic and Missouri contests). The thing that surprises you about his high intensity and competitive nature on the field is his unassuming nature off it.
Robinson is very quick coming off the snap, gaining position and generating movement to sustain. He is very fluid moving laterally and shows nimble feet to generate movement on traps and pulls. He shows very good in-line body control and agility, demonstrating a quick kick slide in pass protection. He is light on his feet for a player of his size and shows the quick reactionary skills to gain position vs. stunts and blitzes. He reaches the second level with good quickness and urgency. His very quick first step generates explosiveness on the rise and he is equally effective firing out on running plays or retreating to protect the pocket in passing situations. One of the more impressive factors of his quickness is his ability to consistently gain position due to his burst off the ball (see 2013 Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and LSU games) and his ability to reach the second level.
Robinson generates very good foot quickness and lateral agility in his kick slide. He works his way in-line with an effortless stride and is quick to redirect vs. edge rushers. He stays low in his pads, dropping his weight to maintain balance and does a nice job of opening rush lanes on pulls and traps (see 2013 Western Carolina, Texas A&M and Missouri games). With his improved hand placement, he was more than able to steer the edge rushers wide.
Balance/Stays On Feet
Robinson has the body frame and nimble feet to get in front of the edge rushers and maintains balance on the move. He has the upper body power to lock on and sustain, working hard to maintain position when working in-line. He has developed good nastiness in attempts to finish and has the foot movement agility to easily gain position and sustain, whether in running or passing situations. With his quickness and balance, he consistently covers defenders up. He has no problems getting his body low enough to attain leverage, especially with his impressive knee bend. He plays well on his feet and possesses the lateral agility and quickness to adjust and sustain blocks on the move. He showed marked improvement using his hands to press in 2013 (see Louisiana State, Florida Atlantic, Georgia and Missouri games). Few offensive tackles have the foot agility that Robinson displays when working into the second level. He consistently plays on his feet and plays with 110% effort, demonstrating an aggressive streak to finish, evident by his nation-leading 172 knockdowns that included 25 touchdown-resulting blocks during his final campaign.
Robinson generates good hip and leg explosion coming off the snap. He consistently plays the game up on his feet and has the leg drive and low pad level to drive his man off the line of scrimmage with force. He is an explosive hip roller with the upper body strength to press and sustain vs. the bull rush. He has become much more active with his hands in attempts to wall off. He does a very good job of holding the rush lanes and creating movement into the second level. He knows how to combine his size, long reach, strength and quickness to generate good pop on contact. He uses his power well to gain leverage, create and hold the crease. He has the body lean to walk his defender off the ball and with his hip roll, he has more than enough strength to push and wall off. He also possesses the upper-body strength to jolt and control his man.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY
Robinson has that quick first step, above average body control, along with exceptional balance and good leg drive to walk his assignment off the snap. He is quick and agile enough to generate solid second-level blocks and works hard to maintain the rushing crease (had at least 10 knockdowns in each game). He shows ease-of-movement when redirecting and keeps his weight down and hips loose to flow with the play. He knows how to use his size to wall off and has the foot balance to sustain. You can see on film that Robinson comes off the snap with a hard charge, using his leg drive and foot balance to stay on his blocks. He has the lower body strength and explosion to consistently drive and create rush lanes, but he can also gain position and use his body to wall off and hold. He is a great incline blocker due to his ability to scope, but needs to be more active with his hands when trying to reach. He runs his feet well and has a good base with a very good understanding of taking proper angles when working along the perimeter. He is quick to gain position after the snap and takes very good angles to cut off on the second level. He is the best tackle in the game on long pulls and working downfield (see 2013 Texas A&M, Arkansas and Missouri games).
Robinson shows very good foot quickness in his kick slide. He has exceptional knee bend and hip flexibility in his retreat and shows good patience waiting for the defender to attack rather than overextend and get knocked off balance. He has a strong hand punch to shock and jolt his opponent, but needs to do it with more consistency. When he gets his hands into his opponent, he has more than enough strength to sustain. With his lateral quickness, body control and balance, Robinson can easily readjust and mirror. He uses his arms adequately to separate and sustain, but, when he fails to stay active with his hands, he can be pushed back by a strong bull rush (is quick to recover, though). You see on film that he can shuffle his feet, slide laterally stay square with good balance and even on those rare occasions that he over-extends, his athletic agility allows him to recover instantly. His lateral slide lets him reach his cutoff point and readjust when working on the edge. His pass drop quickness lets him generate the depth needed to anchor. His quickness is evident in his slide and he is sudden to get to his reach point. He has that outstanding feet and balance to adjust and uses his arms well to extend and when anchoring, but still needs some technique refinement when it comes to getting his hands up quickly to stymie swim and rip moves.
With Robinson' foot speed, he is perfectly capable of pulling and trapping, showing the urgency to get to the second level and neutralize the linebackers. He is quick to reach the cut-off point and moves with ease through the rush lanes. He has the athletic agility to adjust down the line of scrimmage and when working in space. He is smooth in his lateral movements and can get in front quickly for a player of his size. The thing you see on film is his above average body control that he uses to execute blocks in space. He is generally used on in-line blocks due to his agility and quickness to pick up and contain defenders when blocking on the move. He demonstrates the footwork and balance to stay on his feet, move around and handle switch-offs. With his athleticism, he consistently plays with balance and body control. He is so sudden out of his stance that he can instantly ride up on a defender. He has the agility and body control to adjust in space.
Adjust on Linebacker Downfield
Robinson is very quick getting into the second level blocks. He is athletic moving in space and consistently makes adjustments on the move. When he attacks linebackers, he knows how to use his size to engulf the defender and pancake them (57 downfield blocks in three seasons). His agility is evident by the way he makes contact on open field defenders. He takes good angles to cut off at the second level and has the flexibility to adjust and pickup coverages working down the field. He is one of those rare athletes with an instinctive feel for the linebacker's moves, executing crunching cut blocks to take the defender off his feet. He is best when leading on pulls and roll-outs (see 2013 Florida Atlantic, Arkansas and Missouri games), as few tackles take the proper angles Robinson does in the second level.
Use of Hands/Punch
This is one of the areas that Robinson needed to work on and he showed marked improvement in 2013, but could still use more refinement in this area when it comes to stalling rip and swim moves in pass protection. He has a strong hand punch, but tended to use his body lean to get a push off the defender when working in close quarters in the past Now, he throws his hands with very good timing. He has learned to use his hand strength and long reach to press and keep defenders at bay. He showed in 2013 (see LSU, Mississippi, Texas A&M and Missouri games) that he can get good placement to control his man, but when he drops his hands to reload (see 2013 Mississippi State and Alabama games), he is slow to recover. He has much better arm length as a junior and used his upper body strength to stun defenders with his punch. His ability to hit with power and pop on contact lets him consistently jolt and control his man. He has become much more dominate in attempts to gain position and replace in pass protection, but must work better to keep his hands up to counter, rather than try to lean into his man in pass protection. He also has demonstrated better ability to lock on and steer on running plays.
Robinson has very quick reactions to pick up twists and games. He shows very good awareness to create the crease for the running game and the hip flexibility to position himself properly in pass protection. He has no problems mirroring and handling movement. His ability to hit on the move lets him dominates vs. the blitz and stunts. He is perfectly capable of sliding and cutting off the defender on the edge and can readjust and mirror due to his foot agility. He is a perfect fit at left tackle due to his ability to shuffle and slide his feet. Even when he is caught out of position, he is quick to recover. He is very quick reaching his pass-set point and is able to adjust when working in-line. His lateral agility and change of direction skills allows him to get off the line of scrimmage and deliver punishing second level blocks. He plays on his feet and uses his hands to sustain. The thing you always see with Robinson is that he plays with total effort.
WALTER JONES-ex-Seattle Seahawks: Robinson is a highly productive player in all areas of his game. He has a developing frame with great quickness and nimble feet. He can also carry at least another 20 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness. On run blocks, he shows good quickness to get off the snap and into the defenders. He plays with a strong base on drive blocks and shows good hip and leg drive to get movement.
You can see on film his consistency in running his feet to stay up and sustain his blocks. He is a tough and aggressive blocker who works to finish and has a nasty "defensive demeanor" to his offensive play. He demonstrates a very good understanding of angles and positioning and is rarely caught out of position.
As a drive blocker, Robinson has the strength and tenacity, along with the lateral agility to quickly gain leverage and maintain position. He could be even more effective if he develops more consistent hand placement, but he works hard to stay with the play, compensating for his adequate hand usage with good body lean.
He does an excellent job of chipping and getting to the second level, demonstrating the ability to break down and stay under control on the move. For an offensive tackle, he is a rarity, as he has the quickness to get out and pull. He runs effortlessly in the open and has the body control to turn up the hole. He is a master at hitting a moving target and does a solid job of protecting the pocket vs. the edge rushers.
In pass protection, Robinson has the quick feet, knee bend, patience, and an ability to sink his hips with the body control to redirect and good pop on contact. His nimble feet let him readily adjust on the move and he knows how to drop his weight and generate the lower body power to anchor and wall off. He has quick hands and can replace with good pop and punch, but needs to improve his timing and consistency in this area (looks to have heavy hands at times). He will sometimes overextend to make the reach blocks, but has the body control and balance to recover.
Robinson possesses the size, strength and athletic ability to dominate at the left tackle position. He might not be a mauler in the Walter Jones mold, but he has good explosion and drive off the ball to control and sustain his block. He also demonstrates the ability to come off the double team. Robinson possesses the balance and body control to get in front on traps and pulls and moves around very well, staying on his feet to get down field. He has very good lateral movement and change of direction agility with the ability to redirect.
If he can develop more consistent hand placement to go with his strong punch, he could be dominate in attempts to stab the defender and stop him with his punch. Robinson is a physical in-line blocker to down, scope and reach block while showing the skills to move down the line of scrimmage and sea. He generates strong leg drive as an in-line blocker and will consistently finish. He can get to the second level on linebackers and sustain on the move due to his ability to flow in space.
Overall, Robinson plays with tremendous effort and has started to develop that mean streak to consistently put the defenders on the seat of their pants. He can come off the double team and get to the second-level defenders and has very good pulling ability in short and long range, along with the vision and awareness to locate, attack and sustain.
He blocks on the move very well and will finish blocks on contact, as he excels in pancaking defenders on the move. He has a quick pass set, but inconsistent hand placement and punch. He is quick to recover and stop movement, showing a very good anchor as he refuses to give ground in the trenches.
Robinson plays with very good initial quickness off the ball on both run and pass plays, demonstrating excellent lateral movement to slide. His above average balance and body control is evident, whether blocking in-line or in the second level. He shows good hip and leg explosion, as well as very good athleticism to stay up and play the game on his feet.
He also plays with a very good base, running his feet well to sustain and has a keen understanding for taking proper angles. If he can develop better hand usage to lock on and steer on runs, he has the upper body strength and quickness to replace them in pass protection.
You can see on film that Robinson possesses the foot quickness to slide, the good knee bend and hip flexibility to redirect, good patience and quick reactions and awareness to have no problems handling movement.
Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.