Auburn's Greg Robinson taken by St. Louis with second overall pick

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMay 8, 2014 

Former Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson was taken with the second overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in this year's draft.

LAUREN BARNARD — Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala.Greg Robinson can pack his bags for St. Louis.

Auburn's starting left tackle last season was selected by the Rams with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's NFL draft. A third-year sophomore, Robinson elected to forgo his final two seasons on the Plains to pursue an NFL career. He protected quarterback Nick Marshall's blindside last year, starting all 14 games at left tackle as the Tigers won the SEC championship and came within 13 seconds of the BCS title.

Robinson won't be expected to do the same for the Rams — at least not initially. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, St. Louis plans to play Robinson at left guard at the beginning of his career. At some point in the future, the Rams will shift him back to left tackle.

After his name was announced, Robinson emerged from the green room at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and strode across the stage to greet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. At first, the 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson was fine with shaking hands with the commissioner before he decided to embrace Goodell with a hug.

Moments later, Robinson had his first interview as a professional, speaking with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who now works for the NFL Network.

When asked what was going through his mind, Robinson said he was "speechless" before offering a bit more insight.

"It's a blessing to be here," he said, shaking his head the whole time. "Thanks (to) St. Louis for giving me this opportunity. I won't let y'all down."

After years of hard work, Robinson never doubted his time would come.

"I've always been confident," he said. "I'm confident in my game and that won't change."

Robinson's selection ends a two-year drought for the Tigers in the first round. The last time an Auburn player went off the board among the first 32 picks was 2011. That year, the Tigers had two players selected: quarterback Cam Newton, taken with the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers; and defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who went to the Detroit Lions with the 13th overall pick.

A native of Thibodaux, La., Robinson's pick marked the highest an Auburn lineman has ever been selected in the NFL, bettering Ken Rice, who was taken with the eighth overall pick by the Cardinals — ironically, still located in St. Louis before the franchise moved to Arizona — in 1961. Though he may not have been the first player off the board — that went to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, taken by the Houston Texans — Robinson won the three-way battle to be the first offensive tackle drafted.

His two main competitors — Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan — didn't have to wait much longer to hear their names called, however. Matthews went to the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 6 pick and Lewan was taken by the Tennessee Titans at No. 11.

At least one NFL draft analyst believed the Rams made the right choice.

"Everything that you need to have in terms of (skill set), he has,” ESPN's Todd McShay said during a teleconference last month. “I’ve seen him re-direct as quickly as you’re going to see an offensive tackle his size. I’ve seen the awareness and just the natural instincts in picking up the late twists, X-stunts and different things that are hard to pick up. I’ve seen him do it. There are flashes of Greg Robinson doing everything that you need to do. … You just don’t find many guys like this. That’s the whole deal for me. It’s one of those (things) where you turn to your offensive line coach and say, ‘Figure it out.’”

Robinson assured the Rams they won't regret the decision.

"My all," he responded when asked what people should expect from him. "110 percent of Greg Robinson. Nothing less, I promise you."

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