- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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At least one former NFL player believes Greg Robinson's play resembles one particular Hall of Fame offensive lineman's.
Alge Crumpler, a four-time Pro Bowl tight end who played with the Falcons, Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots and is now a radio personality in Atlanta, believes the way the Auburn offensive tackle finishes plays is comparable to Larry Allen, who excelled as an offensive guard and tackle.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was asked about comparing Robinson to Allen.
"I watched Larry Allen as a fan, but I've never broken down his film. I know he was dominant player," Malzahn said. "I'll just say this: Greg's a special player in his own right. He's really good right now, but his best days are ahead of him. ... His athleticism and his strength combined with his competitiveness and his toughness, he's got all three. And I think that's rare.
"Me, personally, I've been fortunate to coach a lot of really good linemen. When you're talking about Greg Robinson's strength and his athleticism, it's tough to really compare."
Growth spurt: Some view the 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson as a project, considering he only played two full seasons as the starter at Auburn. Malzahn doesn't see that being an issue as his player transitions into the NFL.
"I got a chance to help recruit him, so I knew a lot about him coming out of high school. I knew he was strong and a very big athlete," Malzahn said. "[We] redshirted him his first year. And, of course, he's only played for two years. But I would say at the first of this past year, we had high expectations for Greg. He got better each game. The second half of the year, we ran behind him most of the time. And he was the big key to our success."
There have been question about whether Robinson is NFL-ready in terms of his pass blocking, considering Auburn was such a run-dominated offense. Malzahn dismissed such a theory.
"Really, there hasn't been any NFL coaches who have asked me about his pass protection," Malzahn said. "He can do it. You look at film last year, he's got a great set. He's got long arms and a good punch. And he's got the athleticism it takes to play offensive tackle. There might be some analysts out there who have questions. But watching film, he's as good as it gets, I believe. Yeah, you can look at any time it was third-down and 5-plus. Pull it up and you'll see he did a very good job in pass protection."
Check the film: Malzahn has watched Robinson perform against tough competition on a weekly basis in the SEC, although Robinson never got a chance to contend with South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The coach, however, couldn't single out one particular game as Robinson's best as the Tigers made it all the way to last season's BCS Championship game before losing to Florida State.
"To be honest with you, I'd say you'd pick any of them,"Malzahn said. "He had that type of the year. He was manhandling really good players."
Fine tuning: If Malzahn had to sit down with Robinson today and advise him on what he needed to improve, the message would be simple.
"He really just needs more experience," Malzahn said. "You're talking about a guy who has really only played in two seasons. He's going to get nothing but better, technically. He's already as strong as it gets and as athletic as it gets and as competitive as it gets. It's just matter of the technical side, he'll get nothing but better because he wants to be good. He has that passion."
Friday: Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan