The St. Louis Rams are this close to competing in the brutal NFC West, and this draft, where they have the second and 13th picks in the first round, will be a crucial part of that process. And with the second overall selection, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead put their offensive line together -- or, at least a very big part of it with the selection of Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson. At 6-foot-5 and 332 pounds, Robinson ran a 4.85 40 at the scouting combine, and his game tape shows a true mauler who will physically dominate most of the opponents he faces.
Strengths: Regardless of position, there is no better run-blocker in this draft class than Robinson — he uses a devastating combination of size and leverage to maul the defenders he’s blocking over and over. When he gets under the pads of the man he’s blocking off the line, it’s not pretty for that poor opponent, because at his best, Robinson can make those one-on-ones look positively comical. When he pushes defenders back, he keeps his hands inside the pads and blows the opponent off to one side, leaving huge lanes. And even when he doesn’t use optimal leverage, he’s strong enough to get away with it — he won’t frequently lose traction based on poor technique.
Didn’t get a lot of tight end help to his side in Auburn’s offense, and he doesn’t need it — especially in the run game. Moves his feet well from gap to gap — though he’s not incredibly fast in a straight line, Robinson is impressively agile in the box. Has the will to assert physical authority over his opponents — he’s not a gentle giant, and any team looking for an ass-kicking offensive lineman should start right here. Will occasionally use a club move as a defensive lineman would to move through lines; Robinson plays very aggressively.
Weaknesses: Where Robinson falls short at this point is in any blocking scheme that requires to do more than fire straight out — in delayed blocking, he struggles to keep his feet under him and can be beaten by quickness and agility. He will occasionally lunge at ends who are looking to cover or move around him, and his hit percentage in those instances is not exceptional. Has the speed to get to the second level quickly but tends to mince his steps at times, and he takes a while to zero in on his target. Basically, in open-field situations, he’s very much a work in progress.
In pass protection, he has a decent straight-back kick step, but he could stand to be quicker with it, and he’s not exceptionally quick to adjust from side to side against edge rushers. And he won’t be able to get away with as many technique flaws in the NFL — at the pro level, you can’t always just bull your way around mechanical issues. Not especially adept with combo blocks and certain zone principles — tends to stay in his lane.
The Rams have gone a long way to truly establishing themselves as a power team -- and a potential NFL powerhouse -- with this pick. Taking him this high indicates a left tackle spot, but I believe that he could very well be the best guard in the NFL over time -- he has the build, the attitude and the ridiculous functional strength to dominate in short areas. And he could be taught to pull as most guards must — with his short-area lateral movement skills, he could be truly special. As a pure left tackle … well, there’s work to be done. Robinson has a rare group of athletic talents, but there’s more to that when it comes to blind-side pass protection. As a right tackle, taking on bigger ends and personifying a more physical, aggressive approach, he could be equally dominant. No matter. The Rams totally aced this pick, and they'll be back on the clock soon.
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