Penn State's Robinson leads Pittsburgh-region picks in second day of NFL draft



The hardest part for Penn State fans, when it came to talking about wide receiver Allen Robinson, would be discussing their favorite highlight.

The past two years he had so many. He caught long balls, ran yard after yard after the catch and made the plays late in important games (Michigan certainly comes to mind).

That receiver, who dominated the Big Ten, was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars late in the second round with the 61st overall pick Friday night.

Robinson was one of three local players to hear his name called. West Virginia running back Charles Sims went in the third round, just a few picks later, No. 69 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His former teammate, Mountaineers defensive end Will Clarke, went No. 88 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m extremely excited,” Robinson said in a phone interview. “I just can’t wait to get acclimated and get ready to go to work.”

His landing spot in the late second round was a little later than he wanted. Last month, even after relatively disappointing 4.6 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, he remained optimistic about being a high pick.

“I would say it’s everybody’s dream to go in the first round, but I can’t, like I said, I can’t control that,” Robinson said then. “So wherever I end up going God has blessed me with being picked.”

That spot ended up being Jacksonville, where Robinson will join three former Penn State players in Nate Stupar, Matt Stankiewitch and Paul Posluszny. He left Penn State with a year of eligibility remaining after setting school single-season records with 97 receptions for 1,432 yards. For his career, he finished with 177 receptions for 2,474 yards.

Robinson entered one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory. He was the ninth receiver selected in the draft. Jacksonville also drafted receiver Marqise Lee earlier in the second round before Robinson.

As he prepared for the draft, Robinson got to know several of those other top receivers. He said he spent time working out with or getting to know at the combine Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and Sammy Watkins.

Thursday night, the Jaguars selected the man who could be throwing to Robinson next fall when they took Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick.

These last few months, Robinson felt that he improved football-wise, getting more efficient at his breaks to the ball and concentrating more on getting the catch first before making his next move.

“I think I made the right decision,” Robinson said. “Honestly I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself as a player. … I made the best decision I could have made, and I’m comfortable with that.”

It didn’t take long after Robinson was selected for the second area player to find his new NFL home.

Sims, taken eight picks later, was the fourth running back taken in the draft Friday night. Clarke went 19 picks later, at No. 88 overall, to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sims played only one season with the Mountaineers, rushing for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. He had transferred to West Virginia from Houston, where he rushed for 2,370 yards and 29 touchdowns over three seasons.

He’ll likely provide some depth for Tampa Bay behind running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,454 yards in 2012, but was limited to six games by a season-ending injury last year.

It took a while for any running back to go, as none were selected until Washington’s Bishop Sankey went 54th overall to the Titans.

Clarke, an Allderdice graduate, will get to return to Pittsburgh once a year for a game against the Steelers as a member of the Bengals.

He played in all 12 games for the Mountaineers in 2013, racking up 49 tackles, including a team-high 17 tackles for loss. He’ll join a Cincinnati defense that ranked 10th in the NFL with 43 team sacks, but no individual player had more than Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap with 7.5 apiece.

One player who was expected to go Friday night, Pitt quarterback Tom Savage, was not selected. He, along with former Panther receiver Devin Street, will have to wait until the draft’s final rounds today to hear their names called.

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com and Twitter @mdent05. Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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