NFL DRAFT: INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE

Former Oklahoma Guard Duke Robinson could be the first interior offensive lineman selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to be held April 25-26 at Radio City Music Hall. The Colts selected three interior offensive linemen in last April's NFL Draft.

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Former Oklahoma Guard Duke Robinson Could be First Interior OL Selected
INDIANAPOLIS – His name is famous, but as Duke Robinson sees it, that's not his story.

Yes, his great uncle is legendary Motown artist "Smokey Robinson."

But he's quick to temper any excitement over the connection.

"I've seen him," Robinson, a player widely expected to be among the first interior offensive linemen selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, said recently. "I met him when I was a little kid. That was it. That was on my daddy's side of the family.

"My dad told me when I was a child so it kind of just stuck with me when I was growing up."

Here's what's a lot more pertinent about Robinson this month:

He's among a short list of interior linemen draft analysts and observers believe could be selected on the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Robinson. Center Alex Mack of California. Center Jonathan Luigs of Arkansas.

Center Max Unger of Oregon.

None are generally projected to be selected in the first round, which isn't unusual for offensive linemen or guards on draft day, but all have been projected to be selected sometime in Round 2.

That list includes Robinson, a 6-feet-5, 330-pound guard who is generally expected to be selected sometime in the second round and who many analysts said has solid balance and agility for the position.

"At any position on the o-line, you need to be able to have agility, foot quickness and technique," Robinson said. "Foot quickness is a strength at the guard position because you've got a guy lined right up on you. You don't have time to kick back. It's usually only one step.

"That's probably why (in some respects) that a guard would have more agility than a tackle because he doesn't kick back as far or kick back as wide because the guy is right there on you already."

Robinson played on an Oklahoma offensive line many believed one of the best in college football this past season and included offensive tackle Phil Loadholt, also projected as a first-day selection.

"When you have a guy that you know and you've played with for a long time, it's just a great feeling," Robinson said. "You always know you've got a guy playing next to you, no matter if it's left, right, center or whatever, you're going hard and you know he's going hard, too.

"So it makes it that much easier to be motivated and be more intense in your play."

Of the Oklahoma line, he added, "First of all, it's just coming from dedication and believing in the system and having the great coaches we had set up in place to get us where we wanted to go, and just us being able to bite down, take coaching and just do what we needed to do. As far as the scheme, we love running the ball, we had a great quarterback.

"I think we just had a bunch of great guys and great coaches who really loved to play and coach football."

Robinson, an Outland Trophy finalist and a two-time All-America selection, is considered an elite-level run-blocker by many analysts. He said while he prefers to play left guard, he can play either side of the offensive line, and also has experience on the outside. He added that versatility is not only one of his strengths, but that it will be key at the professional level.

"I played left tackle and left guard," he said. "Just being a versatile guy, especially with offensive tackle being a big-money position, being on the offensive line is paying a lot of money in the NFL for guys who are versatile. If you're a guy who can play [multiple] positions on the field, you can make a lot of money.

"I feel I'm an aggressive and physical player. I like knocking guys on the ground. Coming into the NFL, I know there are going to be guys that are stronger and faster. So there's going to be a lot of things I'm going to work on to get me into that top position, that top level where I need to be so I can handle the job."

Versatility was a theme among the top interior offensive lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Many NFL teams, including the Colts, expect most of their linemen to play more than one position, something Mack – a center from California who some analysts have mentioned could possibly go late in the first round – said he had in mind when he played guard at the Senior Bowl.

"I want to show that I'm versatile and that I can handle a new position and also, I want to play football." Mack said. "I want to play football wherever they take me. If they want to plug me at fullback, I'll play fullback – I'm easy. At the guard position, I think I can really do well and giving me that chance at the Senior Bowl was a great opunity so I took that with open arms.

"I'm a hard-working guy who will work hard and become a good player. I'll be in the NFL and not 'kind' of be there, but I'll be there to succeed, to work hard and be one of the best players around. I think I'm known for being an aggressive offensive lineman. I think I bring a lot to the table as far as finishing plays, playing to the whistle. In my play, I have a lot of offer as far as attitude on the offensive line."

BREAKING DOWN THE 2009 NFL DRAFT'S TOP OFFENSIVE GUARDS

Offensive guard isn't often a position loaded with first-round prospects, and this year is no different. Duke Robinson of Oklahoma is considered the elite prospect of an average class, with Herman Johnson of LSU and Kraig Urbik also possible first-day selections. Robinson is widely projected to go early in the second round, and few mock drafts believe he will go in the first round.

OGs ON THE COLTS' ROSTER

Mike Pollak, second season, Arizona State; Ryan Lilja, sixth season, Kansas State; Jamey Richard, second season, Buffalo.

THE LAST FIVE OFFENSIVE GUARDS

The last five offensive guards drafted by the Colts . . .

2008: Jamey Richard, seventh round, Buffalo.

2008: Mike Pollak, second round, Arizona State.

2005: Rob Hunt (G/C), fifth round, North Dakota State.

2005: Dylan Gandy (G/C), fourth round, Texas Tech.

2003: Steve Sciullo, fourth round, Marshall.

THIS YEAR'S OG DRAFT

An alphabetical list of 20 offensive guards expected to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft . . .

Roger Allen, Missouri Western, 6-3, 325

Travis Bright, BYU, 6-4, 320

Trevor Canfield, Cincinnati, 6-4, 305

Tyronne Green, Auburn, 6-2, 310

Pauliasi Fanaika, Arizona St., 6-5, 325

Ray Feinga, BYU, 6-4, 335

Greg Isdaner, West Virginia, 6-3, 325

Herman Johnson, LSU, 6-7, 365

Andy Kemp, Wisconsin, 6-5, 315

Thomas Lang (T), Eastern Michigan, 6-4, 310

Andrew Levitre, Oregon State, 6-3, 305

Rich Ohrnberger, Penn St., 6-2, 290

Seth Olsen, Iowa, 6-5, 305

Anthony Parker, Tennessee, 6-2, 295

Duke Robinson, Oklahoma, 6-5, 330

Matt Slauson, Nebraska, 6-5, 315

Jaimie Thomas, Maryland, 6-4, 325

Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin, 6-5, 330

Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech, 6-5, 335

Brandon Walker, Oklahoma, 6-3, 305

BREAKING DOWN THE 2009 NFL DRAFT'S TOP CENTERS

As is the case with guard, first-round centers are comparatively rare and that's even true in what is considered a very good center class this season. Alex Mack of California is considered by many analysts one of the better center prospects in recent years, and Max Unger of Oregon also is an elite-level prospect. Each is expected to be a second-round selection, as is Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs.

Cs ON THE COLTS' ROSTER

Jeff Saturday, 11th season, North Carolina; Steve Justice, second season, Wake Forest.

THE LAST FIVE CENTERS

The last five centers drafted by the Colts . . .

2008: Steve Justice, sixth round, Wake Forest.

2005: Rob Hunt (G/C), fifth round, North Dakota State.

2005: Dylan Gandy (G/C), fourth round, Texas Tech.

1991: Rob Luedeke, 12th round, Penn State

1986: Pete Anderson, 10th round, Georgia.

THIS YEAR'S C DRAFT

An alphabetical list of 10 centers expected to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft . . .

Antoine Caldwell, Alabama, 6-3, 310

Alex Fletcher, Stanford, 6-2, 300

Jon Cooper, Oklahoma, 6-2, 290

Charles Helms, LSU, 6-2, 285

Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas, 6-4, 300

Alex Mack, California, 6-4, 310

A.Q. Shipley, Penn State, 6-1, 305

Max Unger, Oregon, 6-5, 310

Edwin Williams, Maryland, 6-2, 310

Eric Wood, Louisville, 6-4, 310

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