The DLP Writing Staff Takes A Look At The Lions’ New Offensive Line Addition Greg Robinson
With Taylor Decker going down and looking at an extended absence from the team, the Lions had to look elsewhere for offensive line help. Bob Quinn made a trade with the L.A. Rams to acquire former second overall draft pick Greg Robinson. While I don’t think anyone is expecting him to fill Taylor Decker’s shoes, he looks to be one of the players that will be competing to play his position in his absence. The DLP writing staff takes a look at what they think Greg Robinson can offer the team now and in the future.
The Lions needed to make a move with Taylor Decker out for at least six games, possibly longer and they did just that. Trading away a sixth round pick for a former number two overall pick? Now on paper that screams like a good trade, and in reality, it sounds like a bad trade. If a team is giving away a former first round pick for cheap, something must be up. Character issues, poor performance, something has to be up with a player when things like that happen.
Well for Greg Robinson it was poor performance issues. He wasn’t the left tackle of the future the Rams thought he would be, but luckily for Detroit, he fits their scheme better and could help the team out when they need it. I think Robinson will compete for the left tackle position with Cyrus Kouandjio, with Joe Dahl not coming close to starting at tackle. Greg Robinson and Kouanjio are both coming to Detroit for one year, as Robinson is finishing his rookie contract and Kouanjio was a free agent.
Now Greg Robinson won’t come into Detroit and suddenly we don’t have to worry about the left tackle position for a few games. He gets a lot of holding calls and has struggled in the past, but he didn’t fit what LA had, and he fits what Detroit does, which means he might be better than he was with the Rams. Also with the tackle market almost gone as free agency has been happening for months now, this was a good addition to the team.
Overall I see Robinson doing well, not great, not horrible, just well and good enough that the Lions offensive line can still be an improvement. Stafford can still have time in the pocket and the running game could come alive. After this year, don’t expect the Lions to re-sign Robinson as if he does well enough this year he is going to want to start somewhere else, not sit as a backup behind Taylor Decker. Either way, I am confident in Greg Robinson in the few games he will start for Detroit.
By acquiring Greg Robinson from the Rams for a sixth-round pick, Bob Quinn accomplished a lot. First and foremost, he brought in a talented, albeit unrefined and inconsistent stopgap for Taylor Decker. Secondly, he bought what is essentially an extended tryout for such a player. Robinson, the former 2nd overall pick in 2014, has already been labelled as a bust. Former Detroit lineman Geoff Schwartz outlined why he’s sure Robinson will be reborn in Detroit, but this is still a reclamation project. Luckily for Greg Robinson, he finds himself in a position to secure a second NFL contract after his rookie deal expires this coming offseason.
Center Travis Swanson, who’s returning from a concussion, is also in the final year of his rookie deal. Depending on whether or not he’s retained, Graham Glasgow, who played a lot of left guard last season, could become the team’s full-time center. That would leave a vacancy at left guard, a position at which Robinson has some experience. If Greg Robinson makes good on some of the promise that made him the second overall selection in 2014, he’s definitely in the running to win that job moving forward. His sole competition would be Joe Dahl and the embattled Laken Tomlinson.
Caldwell says the plan is to use Robinson at left tackle, but it’s unlikely that Rick Wagner or a healthy Taylor Decker will relinquish their starting gigs. It would make no sense to cut a good lineman if there’s a place for him on the roster. If Robinson has a bounceback in Detroit, he could fit nicely into the team’s plans, whether it be as a starting guard or a quality swing piece. If not, the team is not obligated to retain him.
Bob Quinn has already shown he places relatively little value on sixth-round picks. He’s already cut one of his sixth-round selections, long-snapper Jimmy Landes, and there are whispers that 2016 sixth-round pick Brad Kaaya is by no means a lock to make the roster. Greg Robinson can parlay this into either a starting role at guard or a backup role as a swing lineman. Ultimately, his play will determine his future.
Greg Robinson is a shot in the dark that could pay off huge for Bob Quinn and company. While many people don’t see a lot coming out of the move, and rightfully so considering what Robinson has done in the league to date, there are plenty of reasons one could use to get excited. Most notably
Geoff Schwartz did a fantastic breakdown of the move and illustrated how moving Robinson to the Lions more simplified blocking scheme could finally give him the opportunity to unlock that massive potential teams saw in him when he was made the number two overall pick. I will defer to Geoff for the details there as he is clearly the expert in this area, however the long and short is that Greg Robinson has always possessed immense athletic gifts but could never develop the technique and recognition skills to be successful. If the scheme however is simplified to a point where he can just focus on bullying people on the football field there’s a chance he could actually be something really special.
What I expect to happen is that he does an OK job in filling in for Taylor Decker at left tackle in the short term, and then based on his performance potentially slides inside to left guard for the home stretch once Decker makes it back on the field. Long term while I think he could maybe reach that long awaited potential (especially in a contract year) I want to see some actual development on the field first before I start truly believing in those claims.