The 2012 NFL Combine performance of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was a gem that will net the St. Louis Rams a gold mine for the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. It appears that Robert Griffin III will be in even more demand this spring than another highly coveted third: the iPad 3.
Griffin put to rest many of the potential questions NFL talent evaluators had regarding his height (measured 6'2 3/8"), his speed (officially ran a 4.41 40-yard dash) or his marketability (after wowing the media during his interview time at Indianapolis).
Perhaps the single-biggest reason is the new "team-friendly" rookie wage scale.
According to this from ESPN, the top picks are worth more than ever because of this change in the NFL's 2011 collective bargaining agreement.'
To put it all in perspective, the Rams Sam Bradford already has made more on his six-year, $78 million dollar rookie contract (No. 1 pick in 2010) than Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (No. 1 pick in 2011) will make over the entirety of his four-year, $22 million dollar rookie contract, according to this column from foxsports.com.
In the past, teams faced financial risk by moving into the top 10, and even more by moving into the top five.
Under the new CBA, that is no longer the case. Rookies are no longer walking into their first training camp as the highest-paid player on the team. They are no longer being paid higher than established All-Pro performers.
In the past, a busted No. 1 pick (like Ryan Leaf) could hamstring a franchise and its salary cap for many years.
JaMarcus Russell is another example of the financial risk involved in drafting a top pick under the old "player-friendly" rookie wage scale.
Russell, the top pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, was awarded more than $30 million in guaranteed money from the Oakland Raiders and was to eventually receive more than $42 million, even after being cut in 2010. His overall contract would have come to at least $61 million over six years, with a max of $68 million.
The Russell contract (and any No. picks of the last 10 years) will dwarf that of the top five picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In reference to the top of the NFL Draft, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said: "I think the top of the (first) round is much more ripe for the pickings than it was in the past because the contracts were such a burden to the top-of-the-draft clubs that no clubs wanted to get up there.''
It not only looks like "the top of the round is much more ripe for the pickings" this year, but that the harvest is ripe and getting riper for the Rams.
The bidding is likely to be enhanced because the value of the picks has significantly increased under the new CBA.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Rams already have been talking with teams about the No. 2 pick.
It will be interesting to see which teams ultimately pursue RGIII aggressively. But what is important is that it appears there will several organizations involved, something that gives the Rams leverage as they attempt to make the best possible deal.
You will not have to read much on RGIII (or fellow QB Andrew Luck, for that matter) before you come across the phrase, "high football IQ," as seen here, for example.
Griffin is known as a heady player who possesses a great deal of poise. In the NFL, you must remain calm under pressure if you are to consistently succeed.
At times, Rodgers looks as if he is going through a walk-through. He seems to remain calm under any pressure and in any situation.
All three of these All-Pro quarterbacks are able to progress through multiple reads, even when faced with heavy pressure. Each keep their head on straight when standing in the pocket and attempting to make a cat-quick decision on whether to throw to any of a number of downfield options, check down to an underneath route or tuck the football and run.
RGIII appears to have all the football IQ-related intangibles needed to succeed in the NFL.
General managers know this. That is another reason why RGIII will bring a healthy harvest to St. Louis.
Rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) and Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) found remarkable success in 2011.
Newton won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year Award after breaking the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback while throwing for 4,051 yards.
Dalton had a fine year himself, throwing for 3,398 yards and 20 touchdowns while leading the Bengals back to the playoffs.
RGIII has often been described as cross between Newton and Mike Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles. But Griffin is a more accurate passer than either Newton or Vick were entering the league.
RGIII is not as physical as Newton, however, his official 4.41 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine was much faster than Newton's 4.59 last year.
In short, the immediate success of Newton and Dalton only adds ammunition to the Rams in their quest to parlay the 2012 No. 2 pick into a multitude of premium draft picks.
In and of itself, a fast 40 time is not necessarily that important. There have been a vast number of NFL players who could fly but could not play.
That said, speed is a desirable attribute that is in high demand in the NFL, and the speed of RGIII (as proven by his previously discussed 40 time at the 2012 NFL Combine) has only elevated his stock.
According to this column by nydailynews.com, Griffin ran what appeared to be the fastest 40-yard dash by a quarterback since Mike Vick ran a 4.33 in 2001.
When considering how Newton ran all over NFL defenses with 4.59 speed, it is no wonder that scouts are drooling over Griffin and his 4.41 40-yard dash.
RGIII and this combination of passing accuracy (completed better than 72 percent of passes in 2011) and running ability could be a lethal combination at the next level, just as it has been at times for Newton and Vick.
The world-class speed of RGIII is yet another reason why St. Louis will see a supreme selection of draft picks thrown its way in an attempt to trade up for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor.
From many reports, including this one, RGIII dazzled the media at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Apparently, he has been the big winner there thus far, according to this account from nfl.com.
With a rifle arm, loads of charisma, a champion's character, the ability to run like former Nike superstar Mike Vick, a wonderful wittiness and a world-class smile, Griffin will be extraordinarily marketable as the face of someone's franchise.
RGIII is sure to land some major marketing deals, and the exposure and coverage he is sure to receive will elevate the coverage and exposure of the organization where he eventually lands. That equates to more paper in the pocket of that fortunate future owner, whoever that ultimately may be.
Would a team trade up to No. 2 just because he has a good smile or will likely land some top-shelf endorsement deals? Of course not.
However, it is yet another consideration, however small, that will cross the minds of NFL front-office members.
Landing a player with the skill and potential marketability of Griffin is a great combo for the NFL's money-loving owners.
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been known to make some questionable football-related decisions as owner of the Washington, D.C.-based franchise.
Many of those moves are detailed here. They include the obscene contract for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the hiring of Steve Spurrier, the firing of Marty Schottenheimer, his propensity to overpay NFL free agents and his not-so-successful acquisition of Donovan McNabb.
Snyder's involvement adds a true wild card into the picture. It is hard to say what he might do. But, as pointed out in a previous slide, reports indicate he is planning to go hard for RGIII.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out. If Snyder is involved in a bidding war for Griffin, the stakes could end up higher than any of us had foreseen.