The talk of the Jaguars’ rookie class will be Denard Robinson, known as “Shoelaces” to most college football fans. Though he is the biggest gamble of all of the Jaguars’ draft picks, he’ll sign more autographs and draw the biggest crowds during the offseason.
He is, indeed, a media darling armed with a big smile, charming personality, unusual nickname, big-time school, interesting backstory and he loves the camera.
And he can play, and he does so with flair. He captured more than his share of attention quarterbacking the revival of Michigan football. He was even “a Heisman Trophy front-runner” for a few weeks at the beginning of the 2011 season.
But it has always been clear he couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL. In fact, he would have gone to Florida but then Gators coach Urban Meyer wanted Robinson, a prep quarterback from Deerfield Beach, to play wide receiver.
So where can he play? The Jaguars listed their 5th round draft pick as a running back. Some NFL observers think he can play wide receiver.
It isn’t unexpected that an NFL team drafted Robinson in a late round, but it was somewhat of a surprise the team was Jacksonville. General Manager Dave Caldwell has a difficult job in trying to build the Jaguars into winners. Their 2-14 record last season was a realistic reflection of their roster. During the next two years it is reasonable to think Caldwell will replace more than half, maybe two-thirds, of the players from 2012.
In doing so Caldwell can’t take a lot of risks. Robinson is a perfect example of the kind of risk-reward player a championship-caliber team drafts. But in what appears to be an uncharacteristic move by the Jaguars young GM, he has rolled the dice.
Can Robinson make the transition from college quarterback to NFL running back or wide receiver?
Many have tried, few have succeeded. Chances are Shoelaces’ star will shine for only a brief time in Jacksonville.
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