Did general manager Bob Quinn and the Detroit Lions’ front office hit a home run when they traded for former first round bust Greg Robinson?
This offseason, the Detroit Lions had a clear focus in free agency. That was to improve their play in the trenches. Specifically, along their offensive line.
Detroit general manager Bob Quinn did just that by signing former Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang to a three-year, $28.5 million contract and former Baltimore Ravens’ standout Ricky Wagner to a five-year, $47.5 million deal at offensive tackle.
By acquiring both Lang and Wagner, Quinn upgraded the entire right side of the Lions’ offensive line. With 2016 first round selection, Taylor Decker, at left tackle and a growing Travis Swanson at center, Detroit’s O-line figured to be much improved this season.
But a shoulder injury in late May suddenly sidelined Decker for what looks to be the majority of the season. In response, Quinn traded the Los Angeles Rams a 2018 sixth-round pick for former first round bust Greg Robinson. And the move was initially meet with much skepticism.
Robinson was the second overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, out of Auburn. Despite having 42 NFL starts under his belt, the 24-year old was widely consider one of the worst tackles in the NFL the past two seasons. A regime change in Los Angeles combined with the fact Robinson is in the final year of his rookie deal made him expendable.
Although the Lions also signed former Buffalo Bills second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio, many believed the job replacing Decker at left tackle in Detroit was Robinson’s to lose due to his $3.3 million salary. And according to one NFL insider, the former first round bust is making the most out of his new opportunity.
"“The Greg Robinson audition went as expected last week, and generally well with Matthew Stafford in the game,” wrote Conor Orr on the league’s official website, NFL.com. “The Lions tested Robinson early with some deep drops for Stafford, and will continue to work their prospective left tackle throughout the preseason. Despite his ‘bust’ status, I firmly believe there is a great offensive linemen in there. Can Detroit find it?”"
Although Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell described Robinson’s play against the Colts as “solid”, I think he may be underselling it a bit. I think Quinn and this Lions’ front office may have hit a home run with that trade.
How rare is it to find a capable left tackle in the NFL in June? I think it’s pretty rare, considering the free agent market is totally depleted and it being nearly two months after the draft. The Robinson trade could be yet another feather in the cap of one of the brightest young executives in the league.
Let’s not forget, Robinson was considered one of the worst players at his position. He’s a former high first round pick the Rams were willing to let go for next to nothing. To go from that to being a solid contributor in his first outing for the Lions is a fairly big step up.
Obviously, it was just one outing. But if Greg Robinson can build on his performance from the Detroit Lions’ first preseason contest, he can start to prove his critics wrong as we’ve seen other such talents thrive in new environments. And who knows? Maybe Robinson can become something more than just a temporary stand-in when Taylor Decker returns.