Greg Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Auburn
The 2012 Atlanta Falcons looked like a perennial NFC playoff contender. The 2013 Falcons…didn’t, to put it nicely. Although any team would like to pick up talent at pretty much any position, especially when you’re picking in the top ten, you want to look for the right mix of best prospect available and need for an influx of talent at positions of weakness: that’s drafting 101. When you don’t sacrifice BPA for need and vice-versa, odds are that you’re going to field a pretty talented roster; this is how the Falcons should aim to fix their woes from last season and get back on track to being the dominant team in the NFC South we thought that they would become.
If you ask any Falcons fan what the team’s biggest needs are, then you’d most likely hear pass rusher and offensive lineman. It just so happened here that Houston, St. Louis, and Cleveland all picked skill position players in the first four picks. This is likely the best-case scenario for the Falcons sitting here at 6. When the Raiders go on the clock and both Khalil Mack and Greg Robinson are still on the board, if I was Thomas Dimitroff, I’d honestly just be waiting patiently by the phones with two cards in my hand. You hear guys like Mike Mayock say, "This guy is the perfect marriage of need and value" Ultimately, this is what I see either of these guys being for Atlanta based on where they pick.
Don’t think that just because Oakland picked up Mack that Atlanta is taking the consolation prize in Robinson. Rather, the Falcons could be walking away with potentially the best offensive lineman to come out of the draft in years. Robinson is a rare physical specimen: 6’5", 332 lbs., ran his 40 in 4.92 seconds (granted 40 times are pretty much pointless for linemen, but it’s very rare to find a guy that big who can move that well) He has the length, strength, and burst that you want to see out of the guy you want protecting your QB from the freak-athlete pass rushers in the NFL. Finally, you already know he’s a dominant run blocker. I could only find a handful of clips/film for him, but in every single one he’s opening up gaps for Tre Mason to run through, I have no doubt that he can do the same at the NFL-level.
Downsides? Well, he was a redshirt sophomore and only a two-year starter. Normally youth is a huge plus, as Robinson is only 21 years old, but it has the unfortunate drawback that he’s much rawer than you would like him to be, especially in pass protection. This is not to say that his pass protection is bad per se, it’s just that his technique is nowhere near as refined as a guy like Jake Matthews’ (the only other lineman I could see potentially being picked before Mr. Robinson).
Still, these are flaws that can be fixed with good coaching; as the old axiom goes: you can’t teach size (or athleticism for that matter) You can teach him to use his hand better, you can teach him good technique, you can mold him to be the franchise LT you’re looking for. In my opinion, while Matthews has a slightly higher floor and will also be a strong candidate for best OL to come out of this draft, Robinson has a much higher ceiling and could have the better career; the kid’s potential is through the roof.
At the end of the day, in a division with star QBs in Cam Newton and Drew Brees (and today’s NFL in general), you need to have your QB to compete; the Falcons think they have that guy in Matt Ryan. Following that, within that same division, you have defensive-minded HC Lovie Smith taking over a team ripe with defensive talent in Tampa Bay, the defensive juggernaut that is Carolina, and Rex Ryan’s evil twin brother down in New Orleans…you have to keep your QB off his back to have a shot at winning. I feel that if Greg Robinson develops into the next perennial All-Pro offensive lineman (as some believe he will, myself included) then he represents the Falcons’ best chance of keeping Matt Ryan clean in 2014 and years to come.
1 Houston Texans (Imp) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - [Explanation]
2 St. Louis Rams (starship 007) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - [Explanation]
3 Jacksonville Jaguars (sports00fan00) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SC - [Explanation]
4 Cleveland Browns (InHinkieWeTrust) - Johnny Manziel, QB, TAMU - [Explanation]
5 Oakland Raiders (SleepingDuck) - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - [Explanation]
6 Atlanta Falcons (jimmyrustler) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - [Explanation]
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AnthroEagle) -
8 Minnesota Vikings (pot) -
9 Buffalo Bills (wow4444) -
10 Detroit Lions (kamjam) -
11 Tennessee Titans (NowWhat?) -
12 New York Giants (Anthony DiBona) -
13 St. Louis Rams (ILL Eagle) -
14 Chicago Bears (JerkyBoy) -
15 Pittsburgh Steelers (KJ Brophy) -
16 Dallas Cowboys (Patrick Wall) -
17 Baltimore Ravens (rohan915) -
18 New York Jets (del.champion) -
19 Miami Dolphins (HD) -
20 Arizona Cardinals (NCeagle) -
21 Green Bay Packers (ablesser88) -
22 Philadelphia Eagles (jhn) -
23 Kansas City Chiefs (PeaceVT) -
24 Cincinnati Bengals (deg0ey) -
25 San Diego Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) -
26 Cleveland Browns (P_Roach17) -
27 New Orleans Saints (bebin) -
28 Carolina Panthers (MikeKafka) -
29 New England Patriots (Amateur_Hour) -
30 San Francisco 49ers (AndyMcNabb) -
31 Denver Broncos (dceagles) -
32 Seattle Seahawks (eagles0132) -