INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s Allen Robinson was one of the most productive wide receivers in the Big Ten last season and earned first-team all-conference honors. When Robinson decided to leave Penn State after his junior season to enter the NFL draft, it seemed like a logical decision.
Pitt receiver Devin Street also seemed to make a logical decision last year when he chose to return to the Panthers for his senior season instead of leaving early for the NFL. Street wanted to improve his draft stock in hopes of being selected higher.
Robinson and Street will be taken in the NFL draft in May, but likely not as high as they expected. This is one of the deepest classes of receivers in years, and Robinson and Street could get pushed down because of the number of talented underclassmen that declared.
“I still felt confident in my decision,” said Robinson, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, who caught 97 passes for 1,432 yards as a junior for the Lions. “I felt it was the best decision for me at the time. With losing my coach [Bill O’Brien] at Penn State, I think that was a big decision for me. But I feel comfortable with the decision I made. The receiver class … I don’t try to focus on that too much. I just try to focus on improving myself.”
Many receivers rocketed up draft boards at the NFL Scouting Combine, but Robinson was not one of them. He was projected as a late first- or early second-round pick, but ran a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash, one of the slowest times among the 48 receivers at the combine.
Robinson will have another opportunity to run in April at Penn State’s pro day. He likely is still a second-round pick, but the first round no longer seems like a possibility.
Street, who is 6-3, 198, was projected as a mid- or late-round pick before the combine. He ran the 40 in 4.55 seconds, which was 31st among the 48 receivers. Street’s speed and questions about durability are two of his biggest obstacles.
“I’ve been battling that since I was a kid,” Street said of his speed. “It looks deceptive on tape. I don’t look as fast. But I do run past defenders and I can go long and catch deep balls. It’s OK. That’s my style of running. I am trying change that up a little bit just so it looks a little more efficient. At the same time, it’s different on the field than watching it on TV or on the field.”
Street finished his career at Pitt with the most receptions in school history with 202. He caught 51 passes for 854 yards and seven touchdowns last season but missed three games due to injuries.
“I am a versatile player,” Street said. “I’m quick enough to play on the outside and quick enough to play on the inside. I think I’ve just scratched the surface as a wide receiver and I think there’s a lot more left out there. The best years are yet to come in my game.”
Street said he is not intimidated by the strong group of receivers he is competing against over the next few months for draft positioning.
“Actually, it’s good,” Street said. “All competition is good. It’s all about what you do in camp. I’m confident in myself and my ability. I’m confident in my route running, my hands, and also my speed, too.”
Street does not have much time to relax. Pitt’s pro day is Monday when, in addition to questions about his speed, he will try to dispel the notion that he is not effective running after the catch.
“I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old,” Street said. “The goal was always to play in the NFL. I can remember watching it as 15-year-old kid and telling my parents, ‘I’m going to be in the NFL,’ and I said it with conviction, too. That’s how I’ve been. Whenever I say I’m going to do something, I do it. That’s how it’s always been. I’m a competitor and I like that type of atmosphere.”
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rayfitt1.