Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers tackle Greg Robinson (73) in action against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Bust Alert! Is Greg Robinson The Next Jason Smith?

Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith (72) in action against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you want the Rams to or not, there is a very likely possibility that the Rams draft an offensive tackle with their number two pick in the upcoming draft. A lot of mocks have the Rams taking Auburn tackle Greg Robinson, and even though he has a rare combination of size and strength, drafting Robinson would have to raise a level of concern.

Robinson is a raw prospect when it comes to pass protection, but is solid in the run game. Sound familiar? The last time the Rams took a raw pass blocking offensive tackle at coincidentally, the number two overall pick, they took Jason Smith back in 2009.

His name is now forbidden among Rams fans, and was the first big mistake of the last regime of Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney. Smith, five years later, has now been out of the league for almost a year.

Smith was a good prospect, and many experts had the Rams taking him with the second overall pick, much like they do with Robinson now.

Kiper pick: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor — The OT spot is strong at the top with Smith, a former tight end who is supremely athletic and exactly what you want in a left tackle: someone you can count on to protect the blind side of your quarterback.
McShay pick: Smith — Smith has emerged as the top offensive lineman in the 2009 class. He possesses the agility, power and work ethic to solidify the left tackle spot for years to come in St. Louis.

Kiper pick: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – Robinson is one of the better offensive linemen to enter the draft in years, with the upside of an All-Pro at left tackle, capable of neutralizing the best pass-rushers and absolutely mauling defenders in the run game.

McShay pick: Robinson —  Robinson has the potential to develop into a very good one at the NFL level. He is the most dominant lineman at the point of attack I’ve ever studied, and while he has some work to do with his balance and hand placement in pass protection, he’s so naturally athletic that he should be able to hold his own right away and improve over time.

 

Smith had all the high potential and all the athleticism. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always turn out to be success. Smith was raw when it came to pass protection, much like Robinson. And much like Robinson, Smith emerged as the top tackle after the combine.

Robinson is still developing his eyes and his awareness against the blitz  and  learning how to adjust to overload pressure. He aggressively overextends and occasionally loses balance and falls off blocks. Along with Smith’s other 100 problems, one of them was balance.

The problem with Robinson being raw and inexperienced in pass protection, is that the Rams play three of the best defensive lines in the NFL six times a year. Throwing a young, developing offensive tackle into that kind of fire, could bring out a Jason Smith like effect.

Taking any player in the top five is risky, but taking an offensive tackle with a top five pick is especially risky and a gutsy move, particularly when that prospect is raw, no matter who it is.

Last season the number one and number two overall picks were tackles. Luke Joeckel, the number two overall pick, broke his ankle and missed the majority of the season. He finished the season graded 106 out 128 tackles. As if it couldn’t get worse? The number one overall pick, Eric Fisher, finished the season graded 122nd out of the 128.

NFL defensive lineman are much bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter, than many of the defensive lineman that these guys ever see at the college level. They will make you pay Even the guys that do play in the SEC like Robinson. Joeckle played in the SEC at Texas A&M, and he was more than struggling last year before he got hurt.

Robinson is a great player, in what many consider to be a great class. That does not however, make him immune from being a bust. The good thing for Robinson, if the Rams were to draft him, is,  the Rams would have some depth at tackle with Barksdale. Therefore, the Rams could use Robinson in a rotation if he began to struggle.

Robinson is also very strong in the run game, as they run the ball a lot at Auburn. Luckly for Robinson they also do that a lot in St. Louis. The Rams offense is, a run first system. Robinson fits the bill in that aspect. However, Sam Bradford has spent two of his four seasons hurt. Robinson is raw and inexperienced in pass protection, and that certainly does not help Bradford, the player with the most to prove in 2014.

The draft is merely 11 days away, and teams will need to start narrowing down their choices for what they want to do. One of those choices for the Rams is to draft a raw Robinson, however, that is a choice that they should reconsider.

 

 

 

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