Jets Ponder Another Running QB
By KEVIN CLARK
Cal Sport Media/Zuma Press
The Jets appear to be the most interested suitor in Michigan quarterback-turned-wide receiver Denard Robinson.
MOBILE, Ala.—After a season in which the Jets failed to turn Tim Tebow into an asset, they are seriously considering plucking another jack-of-all-trades quarterback in this year's NFL draft.
The team appears to be the most interested suitor in Michigan quarterback-turned-wide receiver Denard Robinson. Jets brass met here with Robinson on Monday night, his longest meeting with any team so far. He said Tuesday that he felt the interest was genuine, calling the meeting a "great deal."
Robinson is an intriguing prospect since he isn't expected to even attempt to play quarterback at the pro level, and for good reason. He is listed, generously, at 6 feet, and he broke Pat White's record for career rushing yards by a quarterback. In two of his four seasons at Michigan, he had more rushing attempts than he did passing attempts.
And so at this week's Senior Bowl, Robinson—who isn't cleared for contact after a nerve injury in his right elbow sustained during the season—is trying to prove to the Jets and the rest of the league that he can do something else.
Robinson returned punts Tuesday and said he is picking the brains of fellow Michigan receivers Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon about playing wideout. When he leaves Mobile and resumes training, Robinson said he would focus on catching live-action punts with his Michigan teammates. He is expecting to play in Saturday's Senior Bowl, an annual showcase of top college players.
If Robinson can play receiver, his quickness could help the Jets, who ranked 30th in pass yards this season. Their biggest receiving threat, Jeremy Kerley, had a respectable 827 yards this season, but the Jets had little beyond that. Jeff Cumberland was their second-leading receiver with 359 yards; Chaz Schilens (289), Stephen Hill (252) and late-season addition Braylon Edwards (125) rounded out the mediocre group.
It is unclear where, exactly, Robinson will be drafted since this week is more or less his debut as a full-time wide receiver. He would constitute a pick of luxury for the Jets, since they have major holes at offensive line and safety, one of which they likely will address in the first round. They spent a second-round pick on Hill in last year's draft.
Robinson said he is trying to model himself after former Kentucky quarterback Randall Cobb, who has become a star with the Green Bay Packers as a receiver and returner, and former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who was a standout all-purpose player last decade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Clearly, Robinson shouldn't model himself after whatever it was that became of Tebow with the Jets last season.
Once envisioned as someone who could play a mix of quarterback, running back and punt protector, Tebow never found much of a role with the Jets, and his use in the "Wildcat" package failed to make much of an impact. Tebow finished the season with 39 passing yards and 102 rushing yards.
The difference is that Tebow was married to the idea of playing quarterback, while Robinson, it seems, is open to doing anything.
"I'm just focused on receiver and trying to get better at that," he said. He noted that he enjoyed his role in Michigan's loss in this year's Outback Bowl, where he lined up at running back and rushed 23 times for 100 yards against a talented South Carolina defense.
"There's certainly no question about his quickness, and there's certainly no question about run-after-the-catch because he's a talented guy with the ball in his hands," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.
"So the questions are [whether he] can run routes—and by the way, we can teach that—and most importantly, what are his hands like?" Mayock said. And right now it's way too early for me, after one practice when he competed against defensive backs, to say whether he's a natural catcher of the ball or not, and that's what we need to figure out."
Write to Kevin Clark at email@example.com
Edited by Jetsfan80, 23 January 2013 - 09:13 AM.