It’s official. Today, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III made the announcement that everyone has been expecting for months: The 2011 Heisman winner will forgo his senior season with the Bears and enter the 2012 NFL draft.
After taking over the college football world and becoming the biggest breakout star of the 2011 season, the electric and explosive signal-caller sure looks ready for the pro game. He’ll set off on his journey to the NFL ranks after putting together one of the most impressive individual seasons in college football history.
Griffin entered his junior year known simply as an “intriguing athletic quarterback,” but it only took one game for him to show the college football world that he was so much more than just your average dual-threat signal-caller.
The super speedster surprised onlookers by using his arm, instead of his legs, to torch the highly respected TCU defense, throwing for 359 yards and hitting five touchdown strikes in a wild and shocking 50-48 upset of the Horned Frogs in Baylor's season-opener.
What we didn’t realize then was that performance was just the beginning of what turned out to be an eye-opening campaign for the now-former Baylor quarterback.
This year, Griffin completed a whopping 72 percent of his passes, threw for over 4,300 yards, hit 37 touchdown strikes, finished with the second-highest passer rating in the country (189), and added 699 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
His stats don’t truly tell the whole story, though, as RG3 gave us so many “wow” moments and made so many clutch throws that you couldn't see by simply reading through a box score.
The 34-yard game-winning touchdown pass that beat Oklahoma is probably Griffin’s most famous and memorable highlight from this past season, but it was just one of the many money balls that Griffin put exactly where it needed to be this year.
Long bombs and big plays became the norm in Waco in 2011, as Griffin developed a habit of hitting deep 50-yard go-routes with what seemed to be a simple flick of the wrist.
The type of arm strength that Griffin displayed this year and the kind of accuracy he showed on deep passes is certainly going to make more than a few pro scouts rewind the tape with disbelief when they throw in the Baylor game film.
Personally, I haven’t seen a college quarterback throw the ball with that kind of zip and velocity since Matt Stafford left Georgia after the 2008 season.
That’s why I'm hoping the media doesn’t typecast Griffin as just another dual-threat quarterback who’s more athlete than passer, because that’s certainly not the case.
This season, RG3 displayed the type of pocket presence and awareness that you look for in a future franchise NFL signal-caller, and he’s got all the skills and tools to develop into an upper-echelon passer in the pros.
Accuracy, arm strength, vision, intangibles, athleticism, brains, leadership ability—Griffin’s got it all. He’s the absolute total package.
And that’s why I have a feeling that the RG3 bandwagon is only going to get more and more crowded in the months leading up to the NFL draft, which will take place in late April.
Right now, Andrew Luck is the consensus favorite to go to the Indianapolis Colts, who hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, but don't be surprised if Robert Griffin starts to invade Luck's territory soon.
Everyone seems to want to put Luck in the hall of fame before he even takes an NFL snap, and don’t get me wrong, I think he’s an elite prospect and deserving of all of the hype he received this past year, but if you look at him and Griffin, at least in my opinion, I think there’s definitely a debate to be had about who’s the better prospect, and who really has the most NFL potential.
Luck’s the most efficient quarterback we’ve seen emerge from the college ranks in years, there’s no doubt about it, but RG3’s just as explosive as Luck is efficient, and in a league that’s trending towards a place where you want to collect as many explosive game-breakers on your roster as you possibly can, it wouldn’t hurt to have a dangerous weapon like Robert Griffin leading your offense.
Sure, Luck fits the prototype of how you would build a perfect pro-style drop back passer from scratch, and he’s got everything you’re looking for in a franchise quarterback, but judging from what we saw from Griffin these past two seasons, he at least belongs in the conversation with the golden boy of the 2012 draft.
Back in November, I said that RG3 was the No. 1 prospect in college football and that he deserved to be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft, however, the question is, will he actually be able to give Luck a true run for his money?
I think he can.
I’d say right around late February is when we’ll see the RG3 fever really start to spread.
For those of you who aren’t avid draft followers, that’s when the annual NFL combine takes place.
If Griffin chooses to work out at the combine, and Luck opts to wait for his own private workout to show scouts his stuff, you could see Griffin really start to build some big-time momentum if he performs like he’s capable in the workouts and throwing drills at the combine.
This was the chance that Luck took by returning to school for his junior season. He ran the risk of someone stealing his thunder, and Griffin did just that, as he rose up and took center stage and snatched away the Heisman from Luck, who entered the season as the heavy favorite to win the award.
Now, we’ll see if RG3 can actually steal away the No. 1 pick from his cover boy counterpart as well.
Even if Griffin can’t catch Luck, and has to settle for going to a place like Cleveland, Washington, or whichever team decides to trade up to the No. 2 pick to nab him, that doesn’t mean that he’ll have any less of a chance at making his presence felt in the NFL.
I’ve been following college football and the NFL draft intently since 2004, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a player that’s as intriguing as Robert Griffin is.
Is he a perfect prospect?
No, nobody is, but with his skill-set, he’s got the chance to be a special player in the NFL, and the type of impact player that can change the complexion of an entire franchise.
The way I see it, he’s Cam Newton in Aaron Rodgers’ body.
Griffin’s a world class athlete, he possesses a rocket for an arm, and oh yeah, he’s also got a little charisma and personality (I can’t wait for the first time Roger Goodell fines him for wearing SpongeBob SquarePants socks during a game).
No matter how it all ends up on draft night, one thing’s for sure, it’s been a ton of fun watching Robert Griffin’s rise to prominence this season, and the next few months leading up to draft promise to be very interesting.
I can remember back when I wrote my first article about RG3 back in the 2010 season, and seeing how far he's come since then has been truly remarkable.
Now it's time to see what he can do at the next level.
NFL, get ready.
And Andrew Luck, start looking over your shoulder now, because Robert Griffin III is coming for the No. 1 spot.