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All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We’ve listed players, such as defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs’ Best Bets sections of Pewter Report’s annual Bucs Draft Preview.
As the 2008 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report’s resident draft expert, Scott Reynolds, has spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds is armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay’s schemes on offense and defense.
The casual football fan already has a good deal of knowledge on likely first-round draft prospects, such as LSU defensive tackle Glen Dorsey, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and Virginia defensive end Chris Long. The goal of these regular Pewter Insider features on PewterReport.com is to inform you about players that will likely go in rounds 2-7 that might help the Buccaneers.
Will one of these players wind up being the next Ruud, Stovall or Gradkowski? We’ll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
UTAH STATE RETURN SPECIALIST KEVIN ROBINSON VITAL STATS: Utah State wide receiver and return specialist Kevin Robinson is 6-foot and weighs 192 pounds. The Fresno native was overlooked by California schools such as Fresno State, California, USC and UCLA coming out of high school, but has gone on to become one of the most prolific return men in WAC history at Utah State. Robinson runs in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash.
CREDENTIALS Robinson leads the nation in punt returns with an 18.9-yard average on 20 punt returns with one of those returns going 70 yards for a touchdown (vs. Nevada). He is tenth in the nation in kickoff returns with a 29.3-yard average with three touchdowns (100 yards vs. Hawaii, 82 yards vs. New Mexico State, 82 yards vs. San Jose State). Robinson also caught 55 passes for 640 yards and five touchdowns during his senior campaign.
A four-year starter for the Aggies, Robinson started off his collegiate career catching 44 passes for 620 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2004. He also returned 17 punts for 382 yards (22.4 avg.) with two touchdowns (91 yards vs. Troy, 71 yards vs. North Texas) and returned 13 kickoffs for 326 yards (25 avg.) and one score (94 yards vs. Louisiana-Monroe).
As a sophomore, Robinson hauled in 43 passes for 661 yards and eight touchdowns and also returned 27 punts 270 yards (10 avg.) with an 87-yard touchdown vs. San Jose State, in addition to returning 23 kickoffs 498 yards (21.6 avg.).
In 2006 during his junior campaign, Robinson’s numbers dipped as he caught 36 passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns, returned 14 punts for 74 yards (5.3 avg.) and returned 31 kickoffs for 641 yards (20.6 avg.).
RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES Robinson was voted Utah State’s Offensive MVP and Special Teams MVP as both a freshman and a senior. In 2004, Robinson was voted first-team all-Sun Belt Conference return specialist and second-team all-Sun Belt Conference all-purpose. In 2007, he was a first-team All-WAC special teams player.
Also in 2007, Robinson became the NCAA career all-purpose yards per play record holder with a 16.16 average on 6,479 career yards on 401 career plays.
His 6,479 career all-purpose yards breaks the school record set by Emmett White (1998-2001), who had 5,872 yards.
Robinson has posted six 100-yard receiving games and has three more games in which he has at least 90 receiving yards or more.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES 10/6/07 at Hawaii 5 rec. 96 yds. 1 TD, 3 KR 156 yds. 1 TD 10/21/06 at La. Tech 6 rec. 141 yds. 2 TDs, 4 KR 96 yds. 10/8/05 vs. San Jose St. 3 rushes 46 yds., 5 rec. 91 yds. 2 TDs, 87-yd. PR TD 11/19/05 vs. Nevada 1 rush 11 yds., 7 rec. 116 yds. 1 TD, 3 PR 29 yds. 9/4/04 at Alabama 5 rec. 58 yds. 1 TD
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER Tampa Bay is in need of a return specialist after losing Mark Jones for the season with a torn patellar tendon. The trio of Ike Hilliard, Philip Buchanon and Joey Galloway has not produced ideal results on punt returns and the Bucs are down to Michael Clayton, who is neither fleet of foot nor elusive, on kick returns. It’s time the Buccaneers find a proven return man in the draft and Robinson has the size, speed, agility and resume` to get the job done.
When you think of Robinson’s game as a return man, think more along the lines of Karl Williams than Devin Hester. Williams was a nifty, methodical return man who possessed great vision and cutting ability during his stint in Tampa Bay from 1996-2003. He was adept at setting up blocks and maneuvering downfield, much like Robinson is.
Hester just uses his sub-4.3 speed to burn past oncoming tacklers. Robinson doesn't have that kind of speed.
The interesting aspect to Robinson’s game is that he is a full-fledged wide receiver – and a four-year starter to boot – not just a one-trick-pony return man. He has caught 178 passes for 2,485 yards and 21 touchdowns, along with 35 carries for 165 yards and one rushing touchdown in his Aggies career. He has decent speed and relatively good hands and has been a model of consistency throughout his career.
Robinson did not miss a game in his four eligible seasons at Utah State and enters the draft with no health or durability concerns.
TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY Robinson didn’t face the toughest competition and the best athletes in the WAC, although Boise State, Fresno State and Hawaii are tough, credible conference foes, and Utah State did play the likes of Oklahoma, Alabama and Arkansas during his tenure at the school. The caliber of athletes he will face at the NFL will be a steep upgrade from the opponents he faced each Saturday over the last four years.
Robinson is a good, but not great athlete and isn’t blessed with great speed. He is essentially a Paris Warren-type receiver with a little more elusiveness and return ability. The Bucs have a need for a young wide receiver to groom and eventually replace both Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard, but it’s doubtful that Robinson could be that guy. Instead, he would have to make his mark on special teams and win the return job to make the team and worry about developing as a receiver later in his pro career.
SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR Robinson was the Aggies special teams ace, serving as both the kick and punt returner and scoring a total of eight special teams touchdowns in his four-year collegiate career (four on punts, four on kickoffs). If he were to be drafted by the Buccaneers, he would certainly be in the mix for the return game, which needs to be upgraded and stabilized in 2008.
The big question regarding Robinson’s special teams play would be in his coverage ability. As a late-round draft pick, Robinson would be called upon to recover kicks and punts in order to make the team. Some wide receivers shy away from contact while others embrace the chance to dish out some hits after absorbing some on offense.
Because of Robinson’s value as a return specialist and a top wide receiver on offense, Utah State did not have him covering kicks and punts that often. Robinson would have to show his toughness in this area to NFL teams like Tampa Bay.
DRAFT PROJECTION Most NFL draft guides have Robinson as an undrafted free agent, but there is a chance that a team takes a flyer on him in the seventh round due to his prowess as a wide receiver and his return ability. Nothing will influence NFL scouts’ opinions of him any more than a solid 40-yard dash time. As a wide receiver billed with just decent speed, a 40-yard dash time as close to 4.5 flat would really help his draft stock and he could be a seventh-round selection. Should Robinson post a sub-4.5 time, which scouts aren’t necessarily expecting, he could see his stock boosted up into the sixth round. A time in the 4.6 range would likely cause him to go undrafted.
If Robinson plays well in any post-season all-star game appearance, that would also aid his cause, as it would any player that is on the borderline to possibly go undrafted.
If he goes undrafted, expect the Bucs to still be interested. They have one Robinson's former teammates playing for them right now. Left tackle Donald Penn was an undrafted left tackle out of Utah State in 2006 and he has panned out nicely.
THE QUOTE "Zero," Robinson said on the thought of him leaving Utah State during his college career despite the fact that the Aggies won no more than three games in a single season and compiled a record of 9-39 in his four years at USU. "I never thought of leaving. I'm one of the people wherever I go I stick it out to the end."
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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