“Getting down in a [three-point] stance isn’t natural.”

So what makes for a seemingly can’t miss, second pick in the NFL draft offensive tackle’s failure to stick with the team that drafted him only three years ago?  How about playing for Gus Malzahn?

… It’s been sort of mystifying; he’s a top-tier athlete, a guy that consistently bullied defensive linemen in the run game in college, and yet he can’t seem to beat anyone at the pro level. What happened?

He was essentially playing a different game at Auburn. The Tigers’ offense was a spread-out, space-based option system, a modern derivative of the Wing-T, and it required completely different things of Robinson than what the Rams’ old-school, I-formation-style scheme would. Robinson, like many college linemen transitioning to the NFL of late, had little experience with the types of blocks he needed to be able to execute at the next level. In former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz’s informative piece on SB Nation breaking down the difficulties of transitioning to the professional game, he notes that “Robinson played in [a college offense] that barely resembled anything that exists in the NFL. I could hardly find any clips to make comparisons [for what he’s done with the Rams].”  [Emphasis added.]

The lack of overlap in technique from the college game to the pros is becoming an increasingly common issue for scouts and evaluators, making a position that’s traditionally been considered a relatively safe bet much trickier to hit on in the draft. “Sometimes you go through 80 plays [on a college tape] and only eight of them are truly gradable, where they’re at the point of contact and they’re actually doing something you’re going to ask them to do,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said at the combine in February.

“A lot of the [spread offense] offensive linemen, they’re not necessarily asked to run off the ball, and [set] a guy up, and try to move [a big defensive end] three yards down the field,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in 2016. “They’re kind of asked to just ‘zone and occupy,’ and let the backs cut off the blocks. So you really have to dig through those plays where you can really see him unroll his hips, and dig his cleats in, and really get moving.”

It appears it’s not just the Nick Marshalls of the world who have trouble transitioning from Auburn’s offense to the pros.  I hope Kirby and Sam Pittman are printing off copies of this article to pass around to as many high school lineman recruits as they possibly can.




Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

18 responses to ““Getting down in a [three-point] stance isn’t natural.”

  1. JG Shellnutt

    I guess these high school kids will just have to choose between getting paid now or getting paid later.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The spread makes sense for those programs that need a gimmick to compete with upper-tier teams with inferior talent. Honestly, Auburn isn’t one of those programs. They should be able to play the same style of ball that Bama, Georgia, Florida and LSU play.


  3. dawgfan

    Robinson received a $13.8 million signing bonus and over $2 million per season for the last three seasons. He got paid.


    • Macallanlover

      True, but JG’s comment was still funny. Interesting subject though, HS offenses have led to changes in college offenses which now led to some pro teams having to alter their offenses. Because the funnel gets smaller at the pro level they haven’t had to adapt as much but may be a reason NFL teams need to consider a development league to specifically train talent for the next level. It isn’t just the OL guys, many offensive and defensive positions are impacted (WRs, QBs, RBs DEs, CBs all have different techniques and reads.)

      UGA has benefited by attracting talent because they remained a pro style offense because, with few exceptions, the Big 12 and the PAC 12 have all but abandoned the pro style offensive schemes. Other conferences have a mixed bag of offenses which make it tough on DCs in what body type to recruit. Seems a hybrid might win out eventually, but many players are caught in the middle


      • JG Shellnutt

        And I didn’t mean to insinuate that Greg Robinson didn’t get paid. But, I think it’s OK to say to a high school recruit that you might go to Auburn and be the next “NFL Draft Bust” as is the headline of the linked article, or you might choose a pro-style offense for your college career and have a longer (higher-paying) NFL career thereafter.


        • tbia

          AND…gonna be harder to keep fooling NFL teams if this keep happening.


        • dawgfan

          I agreed with your post. I’m just saying the guy got got $20 million for 3 years of work. He probably still has his health and won’t have to worry about concussions and being able to walk at age 50. I agree with your post concerning Auburn’s offense not preparing players for the professional football. However, it looks like it worked out nicely for Robinson. $10-$12 million after tax by age 25, hopefully he has good advisors around him.


  4. AusDawg85

    Shorter NFL: Our free player development league is not producing the type of talent we want. What to do, what to do…


  5. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    Based on the offensive line class that Pittman signed last year, I’d say he’s already on the mother. Based on the line class he’ll likely sign this year, I’d say he’s on the mother.

    and if Cheney somehow pulls off one of these 5 Star QBs suddenly interested in UGA, I’ll go ahead and rescind by previous classification of recruiting prowess of UGA coaches. Previously, I had Kirby, McGee, Pittman, Tray Scott, and WR coach(can’t EVER remember his name) as closers.

    Man, I would love to be wrong about this.


    • Macallanlover

      I don’t see how that really works for UGA. I can see how Corral could work with our offense because he is more a pocket passer with some mobility (similar to Murray, and sort of a reverse Shockly). Not sure why he would want to be the third 5 star QB in three consecutive years on our sideline, he is a high demand recruit. As for Fields, he will not be coming unless UGA converts its entire offensive scheme. Great kid, but what do you do with the talent you have, or currently recruiting? He is definitely not a fit without a total overall, and with Chaney? I see him ending up at FSU, or at least a school that is successfully utilizing a DT quarterback.


  6. TomReagan

    The problems that quarterbacks coming out of the spread are already well known, and it’s good to see that the word is getting out on other positions. This is an area that can be a big time recruiting tool for the Dawgs.


  7. 69Dawg

    Wow could this be the reason that we were unable to just throw those 300+ freshmen into the battle (sarcasm). We are taking HS OL guys that have zero pro technique and having to teaching them like they were just walking on a football field for the first time. I wouldn’t hold my breath that this years crop of freshmen OLmen will just walk in and start. This article also explains how we got as many of our marginally talented small OL players on NFL teams in the past. They knew what the heck they were doing. Ben Jones and David Andrews knew what a pro centers job was and even though they were small they got the job done.


  8. Southernlawyer11

    I wonder how this translates to the Wide Receiver position, from the recruiting pipeline to NFL readiness, and our inability of late to secure top talent and depth. My worry is that Pro vs. Spread doesn’t matter as much at that position and that, maybe, the recruit / NFL hopeful is sold on having more opportunities to simply touch the ball in open space in a spread scheme.

    Is a WR more attracted to a wide open scheme rather than a power run-play action scheme because of seemingly more touches, despite usually having an NFL tracked QB throwing him the ball in the latter ?