JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Denard Robinson left Michigan, he was a quarterback.
When he got to Jacksonville, he was an offensive weapon.
Then a receiver.
And, finally, a running back.
It’s that last part that’s probably the most important thing for Robinson as he enters his first full offseason as a member of the Jaguars. Knowing where he belongs is a relief and it also allows him to concentrate on getting better this offseason instead of trying to learn yet another position.
"Before it was up in the air what position I would be playing. Now it’s more comfortable," Robinson said. "I know what I’m doing now and I can just take on the role and try to do what it takes to get better."
Robinson rarely saw the field in 2013, carrying the ball just 20 times for 66 yards and misfiring on his only pass attempt. His most infamous play highlighted his biggest weakness: He fumbled at the goal line and the ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback against Buffalo.
Robinson’s hands were a problem from the moment he got to Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ fifth-round draft pick, which is why his role was significantly smaller than fans anticipated. He had trouble throwing the ball, too, which is why the staff moved him to receiver and, eventually, running back.
To his credit, Robinson knows he has to work on his hands and says he will in the offseason.
"I just didn’t do the little things I think I’m capable of doing," he said. "I feel like I did learn. I did get better. So I’m going to take that in stride and just keep getting better.
"Just little things like catching the ball, getting in and out of my breaks all the time when I’m running the ball, little things like that; trusting the process and just being patience with my runs and stuff like that."
Robinson is probably a better fit at receiver than at running back. Though he left Michigan as the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback (4,495). Robinson has no pass blocking experience and that’s a valuable part of a running back’s game. He’s a dynamic open-field runner and has a better chance of being in that kind of situation as a receiver.
Coach Gus Bradley admitted late in the year that Robinson’s development was hurt by not having a defined role and said the team will have a better plan for him in 2014. He also said Robinson kept trying to improve, which is sometimes hard to do during the season because each week is filled with game-planning and there isn’t much time for much else.
"I think this year has been really good for him," Bradley said. "He asked me during the season, ‘How do I need to get better? What do I need to do? How can I take the next step,’” Bradley said. “And part of it is just he needs experience. He needs to be more consistent in how he handles the ball, more consistent in his protections. My hope is that this has been a good process for him and he makes big strides.
"How big? I don’t know. I think he’s such a competitor I know he’s going after it. He had a little bit of a taste of it and had a little bit of success on three or four carries but hopefully it’s enough it gets him going in the offseason."