NFL Draft countdown: Auburn’s Robinson makes good after rough start

Posted Sunday, Apr. 27, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Greg Robinson’s life hasn’t been easy. But by leaving Auburn and heading to the NFL, the offensive tackle hopes to make life easier for his family.

“I really have only two younger siblings, and it would be a blessing if I could help my mom put them through college,” Robinson said. “That would just be something in my heart that I would love to do.

“As far as my older brothers and sisters, I’m going to help them as much as I can because they have kids. I learned a lot from them, but I don’t feel that’s my responsibility. But I’m going to help my family as much as I can. I won’t let anyone take advantage of me just because I’ll be able to, but it’s something where I’ll think about them and try to help them out.”

Robinson is one of seven children. His father, Greg Blackledge, died last year. His mother, Rhonda, has struggled financially since. She works as a nursing assistant when she can find work.

Two of Robinson’s siblings served prison time for dealing drugs.

Hurricane Katrina displaced the family, who lived in Houma, La., and they moved to Houston for two years.

“I didn’t come from much,” Robinson said.

Still, Robinson managed to stay out of trouble, and once he began playing football as a high school sophomore, his future was set. He and Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews are the best offensive tackle prospects, with both expected to be top-10 picks.

“Greg Robinson has the most upside as any offensive lineman in this draft,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.

Robinson ran a 4.92 in the 40-yard dash, bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times, had a 28 1/2-inch vertical and broad-jumped 9 feet, 5 inches at the scouting combine. Though he started only two years at Auburn, scouts love his upside.

Mr. Nice Guy off the field, Robinson is anything but on it.

“I wouldn’t say [I play] angry, but I’m not trying to be nice,” Robinson said. “I’m far from a thug. I’ve never been in really any trouble. Growing up, I was kind of bad, but that was because I had older brothers.

“If they’re not looking for a thug, they can invest in me. I’m real gritty. My mom has seven kids.”

Robinson vows not only to help his future employer but his family, too.

Overview

The top three prospects — Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan — all project as top-15 picks. They should be immediate starters and impact players. There is a drop-off after them. The class offers some intriguing small-school guards, but the talent at center is only average.

Cowboys’ needs

The Cowboys’ offensive line was much improved, allowing only 35 sacks, averaging 4.5 yards per rush and earning left tackle Tyron Smith all-star honors. Smith became the team’s first Pro Bowl offensive lineman since 2010. Only 23 and heading into his fourth NFL season, Smith has become a dominant left tackle, allowing only 1.5 sacks last season with one holding penalty. The Cowboys shored up the interior of their line by drafting center Travis Frederick in the first round last year. He allowed only 3.5 sacks and had no holding penalties in becoming one of the best in the league at his position as a rookie. The Cowboys also were satisfied with the play of left guard Ron Leary in his first season as a starter, and veteran right tackle Doug Free improved his play from 2012. Dallas would like an upgrade on Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard. Veteran Brian Waters was signed before the start of last season, but his season — and perhaps his career — ended with a torn triceps against the Detroit Lions in October. The Cowboys will draft at least one offensive lineman, with Zack Martin a possibility in the first round.

Top three OTs

Greg Robinson, Auburn, 6-5, 332, 4.92. He started 25 games at left tackle over the past two seasons.

Jake Matthews, Texas A&M, 6-5, 308, 5.07. The son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews started 33 games at right tackle in his career and 13 at left tackle.

Taylor Lewan, Michigan, 6-7, 309, 4.87. He made 48 starts at left tackle in his college career.

Top three OGs

Zack Martin, Notre Dame, 6-4, 308, 5.22. He started all 52 games at Notre Dame, including 50 at left tackle, but some scouts believe he is best suited for guard in the NFL.

Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA, 6-4, 307, 5.04. Su’a-Filo, who spent two years on a Mormon mission, started 40 games at UCLA.

Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State, 6-3, 336, 5.51. He made 52 starts at left guard in his career.

Top C

Marcus Martin, USC, 6-3, 320, 5.28. He started 20 games at left guard before switching to center, where he started 15 games.

Sleeper

Billy Turner, OG, North Dakota State, 6-5, 315, 5.16, He started 44 games at left tackle his final three seasons after beginning his career at right tackle.

Top Texas ties

Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford, 6-5, 323, 5.28. The Cypress Creek product, projected as a second-rounder, made 39 starts at tackle in college.

Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State, 6-3, 298, 5.10. The Bushland product, rated a second-round pick, made 49 starts in his college career.

Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor, 6-5, 329, 5.36. The North Crowley product, expected to be a third- or fourth-rounder, played tackle and guard in college.

Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas, 6-5, 312, 5.28. The Kingwood product started 50 games for the Razorbacks.

Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sportsline.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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