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Robert Griffin III
Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan of both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and there’s no doubt in mind that they’ll be the first two players to come off the board on draft night.
Even though I expect Luck to likely be the No. 1 overall pick when all is said and done, I just personally think the ceiling for Griffin is a little bit higher, given the giant leap he took this past season after fully recovering from a torn ACL that cut his 2009 season short.
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 a highly respected TCU defense by throwing for 359 yards and 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 at the time was that performance was just the beginning of what turned out to be an eye-opening campaign for the 2011 Heisman winner.
This year, Griffin completed a whopping 72 percent of his passes, threw for over 4,300 yards and 37 touchdown strikes, finished with the second-highest passer rating in the country (189) and added 699 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground—a campaign that was certainly one of the most impressive individual seasons we’ve seen in recent college football history.
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 watch the Baylor game film.
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 over these next few months.
Right now, Andrew Luck is the consensus favorite to go to the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 1 overall pick, 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. 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 come out of the college ranks in years, maybe even decades, but RG3’s just as explosive as Luck is efficient, and in a league that’s trending toward a culture 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.
The question is, will he actually be able to give Luck a true run for his money?
Maybe, maybe not.
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 other 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 of becoming a bona fide superstar 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 dangerous difference-maker 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, possesses a rocket for an arm and, oh yeah, he’s also got a little charisma and personality too (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. 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 during the 2010 season, and seeing how far he's come since then has been truly remarkable.
After watching him step up and become the savior that the Baylor program so desperately needed, now it's time to see what he can do at the next level.
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, and who knows, maybe RG3 is simply another member of the new wave of quarterbacks we’re seeing enter the NFL.
With the growing popularity of spread offense at the high school and college levels, get ready to see a lot more dynamic athletes who can chuck it and run it with equal effectiveness coming up through the ranks in the next few years. Guys like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III might just be ushering in a new era of quarterbacking in the NFL.