If things remain as-is, the Carolina Panthers are nearly done with the 2009 NFL Draft. With their fifth-round pick, number 163 overall, they select Duke Robinson, OT, Oklahoma.
The great nephew of singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson, Duke is a versatile athlete who has experience at offensive guard and tackle. Regarded as one of the premier blockers in the collegiate game, he was the unquestioned leader of the Sooners’ front wall that cleared rush lanes and protected the pocket for one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the game.
Oklahoma shattered NCAA season records for scoring, as its total of 716 points topped the previous record of 656 points, set by Hawaii in 2006. Robinson delivered 14 touchdown-resulting blocks as a senior, helping the offense total 96 touchdowns, which bettered the NCAA season record of 89 touchdowns by Nebraska in 1983. The Sooners also had a string of five consecutive games with at least 60 points.
At Washington High School, Robinson was rated the 13th-best prep offensive lineman in the country by ESPN and 15th by Rivals.com (also ranked 51st overall by Rivals). The three-year starter at offensive tackle was named the Atlanta Touchdown Club Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2004. He also garnered Prep Star All-American, All-City and All-State first-team recognition.
In 2004, Robinson recorded 87 pancake blocks and graded 91 percent for blocking consistency. He also played nose guard on short yardage defensive plays. Named to the Super 11 squad by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2004, the youngster also spent his prep summers working as a hawker selling programs and peanuts at Atlanta Braves games.
Robinson enrolled at Oklahoma in 2005. He was the line’s “sixth man” as a true freshman, appearing in 10 games as a reserve offensive guard, but also saw action at left offensive tackle earlier in that season. Weight issues (played at 360 pounds, but was as much as 380) were the reason keeping him on the bench that year, but an intense 2006 offseason training program saw him arrive for fall camp 30 pounds lighter.
That earned Robinson a starting job at left offensive guard. He went on to produce 108 knockdowns with eight touchdown-resulting blocks while participating in 809 offensive plays. He earned All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention, helping the team average 368.7 yards per game in total offense.
As a junior, Robinson was a consensus All-American and unanimous All-Big 12 Conference first-team choice. The starting left guard delivered 102 knockdowns while grading 84.64 percent for blocking consistency, appearing in 13 games. He logged action in 663 plays, coming up with a team-high 15 touchdown-resulting blocks.
Robinson, with a baby on the way, seriously considered entering the 2008 NFL Draft. But, hoping to capture a national title, he returned to the Sooners, where he improved upon his impressive junior campaign with a stellar final season. The senior guard led the team with 117 knockdowns and registered 14 touchdown-resulting blocks.
If not for eight costly penalties, Robinson’s blocking consistency grade would have been even more impressive than his 85.62 percent mark (minus penalties, his grade would have projected to 87.46 percent). He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy and again earned All-American and All-Big 12 Conference first-team honors, but the season was not without some drama. He was benched for the season opener vs. Chattanooga and suspended for the first half of the Texas Christian game due to team rules violations.