The report that Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson got back from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee was not the kind of news he was expecting to hear. They told him he wouldn’t be drafted in the first three rounds this spring.
“That gave me motivation,” Robinson said. “That made me want to prove that I could be drafted higher than that and do better than what some people believe I can.”
Robinson responded with a scintillating performance at the NFL Combine Robinson sent scouts scrambling back to film rooms to re-examine his game tape. He posted the fastest 40 time in Indianapolis clocking a 4.33. Robinson also finished third amongst defensive backs with a broad jump of 11’1” and a three-cone drill time of 6.55 and was third in the vertical leap with a 38.5-inch effort.
More important than his athletic ability running around in shorts is what he’s put on tape. With legitimate NFL cover skills, a smooth backpedal and production to match with 10 interceptions and 36 pass breakups Robinson could be a second-round draft choice.
Robinson, who was recruited by bigger schools like Auburn, Clemson and Michigan chose Central Florida instead in Conference USA.
“I loved the campus and the culture and the staff and Coach (George) O’Leary promised me one thing that a lot of schools didn’t do,” said Robinson. “He promised that I’d get my degree. A lot of coaches really fill your head up, but that was something that I liked. And I don’t have my degree yet, but I will because he gave me that degree, and I’m going to keep my side of the deal.”
Twenty credits short of a degree in criminal justice, Robinson admitted that choosing to forgo his senior season was a difficult decision. In the end however, he kept coming back to his strong belief that he was ready for the challenge of the NFL game.
“I felt I was ready,” he said. “I told Coach O’Leary from the first time I met with him about the decision. I asked him his opinion and then I let him k now I felt I was ready and that I could compete at the next level at a high level and not just be a walk on or a free agent. I felt I could actually play and start. That was the main thing, I felt I was ready.”
What likely convinced him was the game at the end of his sophomore season when he squared off against Georgia’s A.J. Green at the end of the 2010 campaign. Robinson gave up eight catches to Green, but for just a total of 77 yards. Green averaged a season low 9.6 yards per reception. Central Florida won the game 9-6.
“For me it gave me a lot of confidence, especially seeing a guy like A.J. do so well this past year in the NFL,” Robinson said. “And having the ability to play against him, I was blessed because he’s a great receiver. After studying film on him for weeks he was one of the best and I knew he would be from the get-go. I’m thankful just to have that opportunity.”
Robinson gave up just two touchdowns in his three-year college career, including one to LSU’s Rueben Randle who is also a member of this year’s draft class and a likely second-round pick.
“Both of them were fade routes and I knew both were coming so I was heated,” he said. “That killed me. Both were fade routes from five yards out.”
For the so called draft experts Robinson’s game tape isn’t overly convincing. Many feel he should’ve turned more of his plays on the ball into INTs. But his athletic ability is going to boost his draft stock.
“Josh Robinson I gave a late third round grade off tape and then he went and ran a 4.33,” said ESPN’s Todd McShay. “I moved him up a little bit, but he’s probably going to be drafted higher than where I have him rated. I put him in the second round because that’s where he’s probably going to go.”
That would certainly make Robinson happy. It’d be just another time he’d prove the doubters wrong. With just a few weeks before the draft however, Robinson is just thankful to be living out his dream.
“It’s hard to even put that in words,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine for many years. I feel blessed to just get this opportunity. If it all went wrong, just to say that I actually did these things, I would be happy. Ultimately I don’t want that to happen, but I have been happy with the way things have gone so far.”