Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Robinson finds right fit with Rams
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Every so often in his time at Auburn, offensive tackle Greg Robinson would find himself in search of some solitude, the chance to steal a little peace and quiet or perhaps even a nap from the day-to-day grind.
That search would take Robinson to his locker stall, the one piece of real estate to which every player is entitled. One problem, though, Robinson couldn't fit his massive 6-foot-5, 332-pound frame into the locker far enough to achieve the desired effect.
"I tried once in college when I just got tired after practice and just tried to just push in the locker a little bit," Robinson said. "I couldn't fit."
If his new locker stall is any indication, Greg Robinson has found a good fit with the Rams.
Upon his arrival Monday evening in St. Louis, Robinson wasted no time taking in his new surroundings. Although he'd been to St. Louis on a pre-draft visit, Robinson was now arriving at his new home rather than just the next stop on a nation-wide tour of various team facilities.
When Robinson entered the locker room, he quickly spotted the locker with his name and the No. 79 adorned above it.
If it hadn't previously sunk in when the Rams called his name as the No. 2 overall pick last Thursday night, it really hit Robinson when he got that first look at his locker.
"It was a dream come true," Robinson said. "It's just like reality hit me as I walked through the doors. I've been here on a visit with the Top 30 and just coming in and, like he said, seeing your name in that locker. Actually, it was a crazy thought I had, in college I couldn't fit in my locker, so I sat back in my locker and it's just a crazy feeling."
The crazy feelings and time for reflection were fine Tuesday as Robinson and his fellow rookies were introduced to a large media contingent at a rookie news conference. With the glare of the spotlight now gone, Robinson and the rookies will now turn their attention to business.
For Robinson, that probably means getting acclimated to the position he's likely to play as a rookie: left guard. Robinson was one of the dominant left tackles in the college game in 2013, particularly in the run game. The Rams coveted him with the second pick because of his size, athleticism, aggressive approach and, of course, his immense upside.
But the Rams are expecting starting left tackle Jake Long back in time for the season opener and are content with Joe Barksdale on the right side. That means Robinson will probably have a chance to follow in the footsteps of all-time great tackles such as Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, who both started their careers inside before moving out to tackle.
That would seem to be a natural move for Robinson, who by all accounts is ready to be a devastating run blocker from day 1 but still needs polish as a pass protector.
"We'll plug him in where we feel he's got the best chance to be successful right now," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said "We don't know exactly where that is, but he may start out inside before we move him back outside. You talk about an athlete. Powerful, quick, great quickness and strength. He's got a chance to be a dominant player inside initially."
Robinson's long-term future remains on the outside, however. Long is coming off a torn ACL and MCL suffered Dec. 22 against Tampa Bay. He's expected to return and the Rams remain optimistic it will be in time for the opener against Minnesota but Long's surgery didn't take place until late January and even if he makes it back, it's fair to wonder if he can be as productive as he was for most of the 2013 season.
Barksdale was a pleasant surprise at right tackle last year and will likely get another chance to prove himself as a starter in 2014 but even if he plays well, he's scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the season.
So while Robinson will likely start out inside, he'll also probably get his share of reps working at tackle. He clearly has the athleticism to be a strong pass protector at some point but simply didn't get many opportunities in Auburn's spread attack.
One area that will require some work, for example, is understanding angles when a pass play calls for deeper quarterback drops of five or seven steps. Those are details he'll have to refine to maximize his upside and eschew his floor.
"I control that ceiling," Robinson said. "So, it's just how much I want to learn. It's just as far as going into it with a positive attitude and trusting the coaches. I believe [offensive line] coach Paul Boudreau has a great plan for the O-Line. I've met with a few guys. Today, they were doing a few drills and they were interacting and trying to help me understand it a little better."
When Robinson does get a few minutes away from the learning, he'll now have a place to go to clear his mind if only for a moment.
"Yes," Robinson said grinning. "I can fit in my locker."
It's just one of the many ways in which Robinson fits in St. Louis.