Denard Robinson could be a key part of the Jaguars' offense
How the Jaguars would use Robinson remained a question once the draft had concluded. Everyone knows he won't be a quarterback, but what is the best way to utilize his open field ability? Robinson gave wide receiver a try at the Senior Bowl, but struggled mightily in the attempted transition. Former Cowboys VP of player personnel Gil Brandt said he would draft Robinson and convert him to cornerback. What the Jaguars have settled on, however, appears to be a versatile running back position.
The Jaguars have referred to Robinson as a running back on their team's website, and he lined up at both running back and receiver during rookie minicamp, where he was reportedly impressive at both positions.
Despite playing strictly quarterback during his time at Michigan, the Jaguars apparently expect Robinson to make an immediate impact in his new role. General manager David Caldwell said in a radio interview on Tuesday that the plan is to get Robinson 10-15 touches per game. While that number may be a bit ambitious (especially if Maurice Jones-Drew returns fully healthy from foot surgery), Caldwell's comment is a testament to how the team feels about Robinson's ability.
His primary role will likely be as the change-of-pace back behind Jones-Drew, but the Jaguars also hope to stick Robinson in the slot once in a while. Caldwell said that, in addition to the 10-15 touches, they would like to have him return kicks.
In my opinion, Robinson will find his greatest success when the team is able to get him in open space. At Michigan, Robinson often had his best runs when he had room to move around, and could set up blockers and weave through the defense. He was not as much of a "hit the hole hard" type runner. As a result, I expect the Jaguars to use him on a lot of outside running plays, screen passes out of the backfield, and short routes out of the slot (bubble screens, as well as bench and drag routes). His skill set also bodes well for his success in the return game. The Jaguars obviously hope that he can develop some inside running ability as well, but that is likely to take some more time.
As far as fifth-round draft picks go, it seems like Robinson will have a real chance to make the biggest impact of this year's rookies. Considering Jones-Drew is coming off a serious foot injury, Robinson may be worth grabbing as a flier in the final rounds of fantasy drafts, particularly for those who roll the dice on MJD early on. Robinson will also be an intriguing prospect in dynasty leagues.
A lot of people are curious as to how Robinson will fare in the NFL, and it appears that we will find out early on in his career. If the Jaguars use him in a way that best utilizes his skill set, I think he has a solid chance to become a viable contributor in the NFL.