The Jacksonville Jaguars took a chance on former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in 2013.
It was general manager Dave Caldwell's first NFL Draft, and after picking Luke Joeckel, Jonathan Cyprien, and Dwayne Gratz with his first three selections, he started to take chances. After taking wide receiver Ace Sanders out of South Carolina, he took Denard and moved him from quarterback to running back, a transition that was difficult for several reasons.
"I had to put on weight for sure and grow as a player," Robinson said. "Mentally, it meant learning little things like taking a handoff or big things like pass protection, getting in front and blocking guys, and protecting the quarterback."
But lingering elbow and hand injuries, as well as related nerve damage, made it difficult his rookie season.
"Actually, it's still a little weak. I’m working on it, still doing stress tests, but it’s a process, and there's definitely still some weakness there."
But after a rookie year filled with battling nerve damage and learning a new position, he was primed for a breakout sophomore season. He started slowly, getting just 28 carries through the first six weeks. But when Toby Gerhart went down, he thrived, averaging 98 yards and one touchdown per game over Weeks 7-10.
"I think part of [the success] was keeping defenses off balance. I love the Wildcat. I love doing stuff that gets the defense scared and wondering if we’re gonna throw it or run it. It helped for sure."
"My foot feels great. I’ve been doing a lot of rehab and I feel like I’m 100 percent. We have some of the best trainers and I’m just glad I’ll be back and 100 percent for next season."
Now it's his third offseason and the Jaguars are likely to use their first round pick on defense for the first time since 2010, an assumption echoed by Denard.
"I don't know who they'll pick or who I'd pick, to be honest. But I know they were talking to [Dante Fowler] from Florida and interested in him. Other than that, I haven't heard anything."
What if they pick a guy like Boise State running back Jay Ajayi at the top of the second round?
"I can’t control that. I don’t look at other guys. Sure, if one comes in, I can help him out and show him some things. But I’ve got to worry about me, and that means making myself the best running back I possibly can. I can’t worry about anyone else."
Leading up to this month's 2015 NFL Draft, Denard has teamed up with Publix to show how P&G products such as Tide, Downy and Charmin are the solution for all home needs. For the Jags on-field needs, he is polling fans to see what position should be addressed at the 2015 NFL Draft. Fans can voice their opinions and enter the P&G Tackle Everything Sweepstakes for a chance to announce a pick at the Draft.
And, yes, we asked Denard's favorite Publix sub:
"Chicken Tenders sub. Hands down. Got one yesterday. I go there all the time."
Learn more about Denard's partnership with Publix and P&G here, and enter for your chance to announce a Jaguars draft pick.