Brent St. Germain / Houma Courier
Many young boys share the dream of becoming an NFL player.
Starting Thursday, that dream will become a reality for many college football stars as the NFL holds its annual three-day draft. Included in that number is Greg Robinson, a former Thibodaux High School standout.
Robinson, 21, will not have to wait long to hear his name called. In fact, the former Auburn University offensive lineman is expected to be selected in the Top 5 of the draft.
Many NFL draft experts predict Robinson (6-foot-5, 332 pounds) will be selected second overall by the St. Louis Rams.
He and his mother, Rhonda Robinson, will spend draft day with other top prospects at Radio City Music Hall in New York waiting for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to call his name.
For Robinson, the entire draft process has been a journey, becoming more intense since the Pro Football Combine, a series of drills and tryouts, Feb. 22 in Indianapolis.
“It’s been pretty interesting ever since the combine, just going through all the process, taking all the visits, doing the individual workouts,” he said. “It’s been fun, you know, so I’ve just been trying to enjoy it as it goes, even though some of the things may be a little overwhelming.”
Robinson declared for the NFL draft Jan. 7, one day after Auburn lost to Florida State in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Since that day, he had made a steady climb up many team’s draft boards.
In the weeks leading to draft, Robinson said he has learned to handle the hectic pace of being one of the NFL’s top draft prospects.
“Just with all the traveling, you can’t sleep right,” he said. “It’s like boom, boom, (so) it can get overwhelming. But you’ve just got to stay up on your sleep with the time changes and all of that.”
After being redshirted in 2011, Robinson burst onto the scene starting 25 games and being named to the 2013 All-SEC first team.
That success is one of reasons Robinson opted to forgo his final two seasons of college football and declare for the NFL draft.
“Greg played a big part in our success this season, and I appreciate everything he did as an Auburn Tiger during his career,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement. “He has a bright future ahead of him at the next level, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Raceland-based NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier said Robinson’s solid work ethic and strong play on the field are among of the reasons he had become one of the draft’s top prospects.
“Greg really blossomed the last half of the season,” Detillier said. “In the last six games, he really played well. He is a dominate run blocker, and he is just so athletic for a big man. Auburn running back Tre Mason was making so much yardage behind him, but (Robinson) is something special.”
Detillier has Robinson rated as the top offensive tackle and the No. 3 player overall available in the draft behind University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and University of Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
A LEARNING PROCESS
Despite all of the success, Robinson said it was not easy becoming one of the draft’s top prospects. He arrived at Auburn following the team’s 2010 national championship and had endured two rough seasons, which included a losing season in 2012 and the firing of head coach Gene Chizik.
Robinson said he tried to learn as much as he could from both Auburn coaching staffs and from current NFL players, such as New Orleans Saints offensive guard Ben Grubbs, a former Auburn standout, and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith.
“It’s been interesting actually with the coaching changes and all of that,” Robinson said. “So I’ve been learning a lot from a lot of different people and a few NFL guys have reached out to me. There’s a lot of things I have to work on, but I’ve been learning slowly from a lot of different people.”
Robinson has a chance to make history at Thursday’s draft. If he is selected in the Top 7, he will become the highest draft pick from the Houma-Thibodaux area, surpassing former Grambling State University wide receiver Frank Lewis of Houma, who was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1971 draft.
Detillier said becoming the highest drafted player from the area may be just the beginninhg of a bright pro career for Robinson.
“There is no doubt that he will be the highest pick ever from the area,” Detillier said. “He is definitely a Top 5 pick and could go as high as No. 2. What’s even more impressive is that he could be the highest offensive linemen drafted ever from this state. I went back, and I can’t find anybody in that range.”
Former Thibodaux High coach Dennis Lorio said becoming one of the top draft prospects is quite an accomplishment for someone who thought their future was in basketball. Robinson played along the defensive line as a sophomore and made the switch to the offensive line at the start of spring drills prior to his junior season.
“When he started that spring, he was a blank canvas because he did not know how to play along the offensive line,” Lorio said. “It took a little while, but by the next year when he started playing, you could see that he took to it naturally.”
From the practice field at Thibodaux High to Radio City Music Hall, Robinson has made quite a journey and is one step away from joining the elite NFL fraternity.
“I’ve never been to New York, and I look forward to it,” he said. “Actually, my mom’s never flown before, so that’s going to be something new for her too. I got her a dress, and I’ve been working on getting my grandma (one) because she just got out of the hospital. We’re trying to get her together so she can make it also.”
Lorio said Robinson’s journey has been exciting, and it will be one Thibodaux High fans will not soon forget.
“When a kid like Greg comes from off the radar to a good sold college recruit to a top draft choice in the NFL, that’s just mind-boggling,” Lorio said. “It’s exciting and thrilling, and I know that all of the people in the Thibodaux area and anyone who has worked with him are thrilled.”