Plump defenders are driven wayside like dummy sleds. They succumb, folding like lawn chairs, or even worse, drowning into the ground. By the whistle, they’re scrambling to regain their balance, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of a pancake. They know it’ll show up on the coach’s film the next morning. There’s no excuse for it — other than facing Greg Robinson.
He’s thick and towering. He has a belly, but he also has a chest. His arms are like his thighs. He’s proportionate all over, built like a chiseled cement block at 21 years old. He’s still learning how to play left tackle after leaving Auburn for the NFL after only two years worth of starts, but he has the skills to become great.
At 6’5″ and 332 pounds, Robinson is an imposing figure who engulfs defenders with size 10 hands. He’s strong and athletic, making him a dominating run blocker.
In a passing league, some might think Robinson’s run blocking skills might be an afterthought, but that’s not true. The good teams have a left tackle that can create crater-sized alleys to run the ball and set up their passing game. And the bad teams, like the Oakland Raiders who pick No. 5, don’t. With a realistic chance of drafting Robinson, they’d be wise to invest in him.
His film is full of knockdowns (130 of them, to be exact). They’re different in their own ways but all have the same result.
Some are pulverizing at the line of scrimmage with a simple jab. Others come on the move, as Robinson goes to the second level where linebackers roam or the third where defensive backs freelance. All show power, explosion, and athleticism, a frightening combination for any defensive lineman to face, let alone a defensive back.
Once, against Missouri, a second-and-6 handoff went to his side through the B-gap, which was clogged by an end. Robinson kicked out with his left foot and slid with his right, matching the end’s outside steps. Then he extended his arms and punched the end in the left shoulder, knocking him back on his heels to the what looked like unconsciousness. The end’s legs flailed and he lost his balance. He regained it when his right hand bounced off the turf. A UFC-like punch (1:00).
After a punch, he runs lightly. It’s different than how most athletic left tackles run. It’s more violent and quick than the walking on air-type. It’s like a snake slithering before striking. He stares the defender down and then buries him with a vicious shot.
In the national championship game he bypassed a defensive end on a screen pass and sprang out to the first down marker. There, a Florida State defensive back took an outside angle on Robinson’s teammate, who cut back toward the near hash. When the DB reached for his legs, Robinson ran full speed and collided with him, folding him in half and crushing him to his stomach in the other direction. Touchdown Auburn (3:20).
He’s still learning. Robinson’s learning the nuances of the position, as dominant as he already can be. The hand placement, sliding and reading are all still coming to him. He doesn’t always do what a more experienced lineman would.
Take for instance against Texas A&M. He’s pass blocking on third-and-10. He’s on an island one-on-one with the edge-rusher. He kick-slides and extends to punch the end, but he leaves his feet at the same time. He gets rocked by the end and loses his balance, landing onto his left foot. Now he’s fallen behind the end and doesn’t slide his feet quickly enough to cut off the turn around the edge. He’s behind the quarterback, the one area where coaches stress not to be. The end is applying pressure and has forced the quarterback to flush the pocket (4:20).
The potential is there. Robinson has the skills to be an elite left tackle. He’s already a dominating run blocker because of his rare power and athleticism. He shrinks defensive ends with a punch and flattens when base blocking on the line. In zone blocking, he’s agile enough to disengage from one defender and burst to the second level to engage another. He’s able to lead block on the move and destroy defensive backs downfield. He makes it look easy because it is.
Soon pass blocking will be easy too. Then opponents will make even more excuses.