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Is Denard Robinson a Promising Running Back Prospect?


As I noted in an earlier post, Eric Stoner has argued convincingly that Denard Robinson is probably best suited to being a running back in the NFL.  Robinson accumulated RB level carries in his career at Michigan and he’s about the same size as some successful RBs in the NFL.  I decided that it might be useful to run some comparables for Robinson.  I think it’s difficult enough to forecast college to pros when you’re not dealing with a position change, so in Robinson’s case I think it requires even more uncertainty to be priced in.  So I’ve left the comparable group extremely wide in order to illustrate a range of potential outcomes.  I will say that one of the most challenging things about finding good comps for Robinson is trying to find smallish running backs that also didn’t catch the ball very much in college.  To illustrate this point, consider that Robinson is similar in size to Gio Bernard, but Bernard is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield while Robinson isn’t used to catching the ball (you might say that this is even more reason that he should be an RB and not a WR).

There are a lot of names to like in the table below, and then there are some disappointments as well.  I also left in the names of two current year running backs just for the hell of it.

So to get back to the question posed in the title of this post, is Denard a promising running back prospect?  Using a simple RB model that I have, Denard would be about middle of the pack in this group.  He would be a less promising prospect than Charles as Charles is faster and averaged more yards/game in his last year of college, but Denard would be a more promising prospect than Ellington or Isaiah Pead, who both averaged fewer yards per game and are also slower.  Did I mention how simple my RB model is?  For dynasty purposes, I think this is 100% a question of usage and that’s the thing you should be paying attention to in your rookie drafts.

Denard Robinson Michigan 199.00 4.43 2012 11.00 16.09 115.09 0.64 7.15 2.82 48.00 4,498.00 6.23
Kendall Hunter Oklahoma State 199.00 4.46 2010 13.00 20.85 119.08 1.23 5.71 7.77 46.00 4,181.00 5.91
Joe McKnight Southern California 198.00 4.40 2009 12.00 13.67 84.50 0.67 6.18 12.17 35.00 2,213.00 6.38
David Wilson Virginia Tech 206.00 4.49 2011 14.00 20.71 122.07 0.64 5.89 9.21 36.00 2,662.00 5.76
Johnathan Franklin UCLA 205.00 4.49 2012 14.00 20.14 123.86 0.93 6.15 23.07 53.00 4,403.00 5.59
Andre Ellington Clemson 199.00 4.52 2012 13.00 16.31 83.15 0.62 5.10 17.85 48.00 3,436.00 5.53
Quentin Griffin Oklahoma 195.00 4.48 2002 14.00 20.50 134.57 1.07 6.56 18.86 38.00 3,471.00 5.28
Jamaal Charles Texas 200.00 4.38 2007 13.00 19.85 124.54 1.38 6.28 15.31 38.00 3,328.00 6.24
LaMichael James Oregon 194.00 4.45 2011 12.00 20.58 150.42 1.50 7.31 17.50 37.00 5,082.00 6.59
Felix Jones Arkansas 207.00 4.44 2007 12.00 11.08 96.83 0.92 8.74 14.67 37.00 2,956.00 7.66
Isaiah Pead Cincinnati 197.00 4.47 2011 13.00 18.23 96.85 0.92 5.31 24.54 41.00 3,288.00 6.03
Darren Sproles Kansas State 187.00 4.47 2004 11.00 22.18 119.82 1.00 5.40 20.27 45.00 4,979.00 6.11

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