Greg Robinson expected to go early in draft

Greg Robinson’s blocks are a beautiful thing to watch.

Just ask former Auburn running back Tre Mason, who was the main beneficiary of Robinson’s path-clearing moves last season.

“He demolished people,” Mason said. “He just straight manhandled (defenders). As soon as the ball was hiked, he was five yards down the field with a guy in his hands.”

Because of that mauling style, Robinson, just a third-year sophomore, likely will be a first-round selection, and probably the first or second offensive lineman taken, in the NFL draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday.

Robinson, who left school early to help his financially stressed family, has a rare blend of speed and power.

At the NFL scouting combine he measured 6-f00t-5 and 332 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.92 seconds, which was the second-fastest time among linemen at the combine. Robinson also lifted 225 pounds 32 times and said he thought he could reach 40 on his best day.

“Greg Robinson has incredible upside,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “He’s a dominant factor when you ask him to move people off the line of scrimmage. He needs to work on his pass-protection techniques. He was still sloppy in pass protection.”

The Falcons interviewed Robinson early in the pre-draft process and sent two scouts to his Pro Day and a band of about 10 front-office members to Auburn for a private workout April 17.

Robinson’s not projected to be available when the Falcons are scheduled to pick at No. 6. The team likely would have to move up to select him.

“I have him scripted out at (second overall) to St. Louis or five to Oakland,” Kiper said. “Those would be the teams who make the most sense.”

While running behind a lot of Robinson’s blocks, Mason had a breakout season as they helped the Tigers reach the BCS championship game. Mason became the first non-quarterback to lead Auburn in total offense since Bo Jackson in 1985. Mason rushed for 1,816 yards and had 163 yards receiving and 395 yards on kickoff returns. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

“It was a lot of fun (running behind Robinson’s blocks),” Mason said. “Since freshman year, I knew Greg was going to be something special. He was around that size freshman year coming in. He just tightened it up a little bit.”

Robinson is considered to rank in the top group of tackles in the draft, along with Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.

Robinson believes that he can transform into a better pass blocker in the NFL.

“I understand about the run blocking because I worked on it a lot,” Robinson said. “I’ve also worked on the pass (blocking). It was limited. I feel I’m decent enough, and I will prove myself … if there’s anybody doubting that I can’t pass block.”

Robinson is only 20 and knows that he’s not a finished product. He started 11 games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman and all 14 games last season.

“I’m not at full potential right now,” Robinson said. “I still have a lot to go.”

Robinson could have stayed at Auburn. But when his draft projection came back from the NFL advisory committee, he elected to leave early.

“I talked a lot with my family,” Robinson said. “It’s basically the financial situation back home, I didn’t come from much. It’s something I considered, and I talked a lot with them. And I just told my mom (Rhonda) I was going to go back and get my degree.”

Robinson is the fifth of seven kids. His mother, a nursing assistant, has struggled since the death of his father, Greg Blackledge, last year.

“It would be a blessing if I could help my mom put them through college,” Robinson said. “That would just be something in my heart that I would love to do.

“As far as my older brothers and sisters, I’m going to help them as much as I can because they have kids. I learned a lot from them, but I don’t feel that’s my responsibility. But I’m going to help my family as much as I can.”