Denard Robinson’s future is certainly in doubt now that the writing is on the wall concerning Rich Rodriguez’s status as the head coach at Michigan. Robinson responded to questions regarding his future if Rich Rodriguez got fired by saying "no response." He did say that Rich Rodriguez was "his coach" and "the coach that recruited me." However, what is Robinson going to do when Rodriguez does get fired? UMGoBlog spoke to a NFL scout, Taylor McGurk, regarding the future of Denard Robinson with Rich Rodriguez vs. his potential future with Jim Harbaugh.
Before we start talking about Denard Robinson as an overall quarterback, credit must be given to Rich Rodriguez and Rod Smith. They have done a tremendous job with the development of Denard Robinson. As a freshman, Robinson was an explosive runner who showed speed, quickness, agility and even power. He did at times show off his arm strength, but everyone saw the lack of accuracy, decision making and awareness in his passing game. This season as a sophomore, Robinson improved immensely and that can be credited to his hard work ethic, coachability and the teaching by Coach Rodriguez and Coach Smith. With that said, can Denard Robinson be an NFL quarterback under this current staff?
First, we’ll talk about what scouts think about Denard Robinson currently. At this point McGurk says scouts in the NFL do not even consider Denard Robinson at quarterback. The scouts do acknowledge his arm strength and are very impressed with the combination of arm strength and athletic ability that Robinson possesses. However these scouts are extremely concerned about the amount of hits he has been and will be taking under Rich Rodriguez. Certain scouts have gone as far as saying "under Rich Rodriguez, Denard Robinson has no shot at being a quarterback in the NFL." They also are also extremely concerned about Robinson’s future as an NFL player regardless of position with the amount of hits he is taking. As a quarterback, these hits will wear him down and destroy his strength in his core and lower body. Some well respected U-M bloggers and analysts out there have acknowledged that Robinson’s accuracy was hurt this season as he continued to get hit, stating, "Denard has lost his legs for the season." Under Rich Rodriguez, the overall consensus is that Denard is an athlete playing quarterback and will never be in a situation where he’ll be ready to move onto the NFL as a QB. The simplistic rout combinations and lack of reading defenses will prohibit the growth of Robinson as an overall quarterback. The scouts are also concerned with a possible bad injury that could potentially ruin Robinson’s career at the next level.
Now we’ll talk about Denard Robinson under Jim Harbaugh. First, Harbaugh will have to accept the U-M job and will then have to do a heck of a job of recruiting Denard Robinson to stay at Michigan. Regardless of who becomes coach at Michigan, expect to hear about Denard Robinson putting in a transfer request. This would be smart for Denard as he can explore his options, however when it is all said and done, it is hopeful that Robinson would stick it out with Harbaugh, if he is indeed hired. In conversation with McGurk he says, “most believe that Andrew Luck is the best coached quarterback in the draft,” and “many have said that Harbaugh is one of, if not the best, quarterback coaches in the country.” It is widely known that Harbaugh respects and loves the game of Michael Vick. When asked if Harbaugh could turn an athlete such as Denard Robinson into a Michael Vick type of quarterback, scouts responded unanimously "YES!" One may ask “what exactly is a Michael Vick type of quarterback?” This is a type of quarterback who can read defenses and be able to make quick accurate throws while having the ability to stretch the field vertically with his arm strength. Also a quarterback like Vick has the ability to make things happen with his legs when plays break down. Instead of being a running back at the quarterback position, Robinson would only take the hits when necessary. Most believe that Denard Robinson is indeed quicker and faster than Michael Vick. The one player that has played with both agrees. During the past training camp Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said, “Both of them are pretty fast, I just think Vick’s older; he’s not really that fast like how Shoelace is. I think Shoelace is quicker than Vick, but Vick, he gets away; he’s pretty fast still. And I think Shoelace might have him by a couple steps.” Of course the age of Vick and his absences from football do make a big difference, but with that said, Vick is having an MVP type of season for the Eagles. Scouts also agree that they have comparable arm strength. The only thing missing in the development of Denard Robinson as a quarterback is elite coaching and an NFL favorable system. He’ll receive both of these if Michigan hires of Jim Harbaugh and Robinson decides to stay in Ann Arbor.
Of course another factor is the development of Devin Gardner. While Gardner has better size then Robinson, he is not as explosive and lacks the experience. With that said Gardner’s potential would also get maxed out under a Harbaugh staff. The last question is who has more potential despite the one year of experience Robinson has over Gardner. It could be that Devin Gardner is simply ahead of Denard as an overall passer and could leap him as the starter under Jim Harbaugh. Although that scenario is doubtful, it could happen and cause Robinson to go ahead and transfer. At this point, only time can tell what will happen. However it is widely known throughout the NFL circuits that under Jim Harbaugh, Denard Robinson can turn into a lethal quarterback both in college and in the NFL.