Friday's pick: Cornerback Josh Robinson flexible, really fast

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 7:41 AM

Central Florida's Josh Robinson ran the fastest 40 at the combine, and the Vikings were happy to draft him 66th overall.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman expressed about a dozen reasons why he picked Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson with the Vikings lone pick on Day 2 of the NFL draft. But two words probably sum it up best:

"He's fast," Spielman said of the team's third-round pick and the draft's 66th overall selection.

Make that really fast.

Officially, Robinson ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in February. The listed time was 4.33, but some scouts reportedly clocked the 5-10, 199-pounder at 4.29.

"I can react quickly," Robinson said. "I can do whatever you want me to do, whether it's be a safety, guard the flat or whether it's man, zone, anything."

Spielman went into Day 2 of the draft looking for a cornerback in particular and possibly a receiver if one of the corners he wanted wasn't there. But he no longer had a second-round pick, having traded the 35th overall pick as part of the trade to move back into the first round and select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith on Thursday.

Through the 61st pick of the draft, only one corner -- Janoris Jenkins to the Rams at No. 39 -- and four receivers -- including Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, No. 43 to the Jets -- had been selected in the second round.

"You see the round was kind of boring," said Spielman, who had swung two deals the day before.

But things began to get interesting when the Packers traded up for the second time in the round to select Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward with the 62nd pick.

"I can't assume what [the Packers] were thinking," Spielman said. "I know teams knew we were going to be looking at those corners."

Spielman fielded calls from teams ahead of him asking if the Vikings wanted to trade up. But Spielman had three corners that he was interested in. Hayward and Robinson were two of them.

The other one -- Trumaine Johnson of Montana -- was picked by the Rams with the first pick of the third round. Spielman took Robinson with the next pick and wouldn't say which of the three corners he had ranked higher.

"When you see the board develop and you know you still have three or four options there, you're holding your breath," Spielman said. "I wanted to stay patient. I didn't want to lose the ammunition [nine picks] that we have [Saturday]."

The Colts allowed Spielman to breathe when they picked their second tight end of the day, Clemson's Dwayne Allen, with the 64th selection.

"When the tight end went, there were two corners left at that time," Spielman said. "We knew we were going to get one of them."

Spielman didn't sound disappointed that Rueben Randle, Louisiana State's highly rated receiver, went 63rd overall to the Giants.

"I think it's a deeper receiver class," Spielman said. "There's going to be some quality receivers coming up [Saturday]."

Spielman said he liked Robinson's vertical jump (38 1/2 inches), his character, his recovery speed, his physical style and his potential to return kicks. He could have mentioned his confidence as well.

Asked why he came out as a junior, Robinson said, "My primary motivation was that I could get it done, that I had the ability to be a shutdown corner, one of the best corners to play the game."

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  • Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson (20), right, intercepted a pass intended for SMU wide receiver Aldrick Robinson (24) during the Conference USA Championship game in 2010. Central Florida defeated SMU 17-7. Robinson was chosen by the Vikings Friday in the NFL draft.

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