2012 NFL Draft: Jerry Jones Refuses to Pick Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIOctober 4, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor meet during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The fact that Jerry Jones should have to address the quarterback concerns of Dallas Cowboys fans relating to the first round of the draft is ridiculous. Further, the fact that some Cowboys fans have the notion that the Cowboys should draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III is even more ridiculous. Anyway, Jones took time to do just that.

Jones stood by Tony Romo as his starting quarterback while stating that the Cowboys have no plan to draft Luck or Griffin. Asked if he would trade Tony Romo for the right to draft Luck or Griffin, Jones retorted, "No, I would not. Can you imagine trading out of a hell of a player right now just so you can get two to three outstanding draft picks so you can be in this draft?"

Jones hit the nail on the head with that answer. The Cowboys would be trading away Romo, easily a top-10—if not a top-six—quarterback, for someone who might turn into a good quarterback in Luck or Griffin. Also, Jones points out—although he seems to be misspeaking into this point—that the Cowboys would diminish the rest of the draft to take Luck or Griffin.


Drafting Griffin Would Force Cowboys to Reshape Their Offense

He seems to imply that the Cowboys would have to give away a couple more picks to get the rights to the pick. Also, Jones points out that such a pick reshapes the draft. The Cowboys might be forced to make different picks to help that new quarterback. To help Griffin, the Cowboys would have to draft a new, athletic lineman.

That lineman would be required to help block when Griffin rolls out and scrambles.

Don't expect that drafting RGIII means he'll fit into the Cowboys system immediately. At least in Griffin's rookie season, the Cowboys would have to adapt their attack around him, rather than adapting Griffin to their system. The Cowboys would have to allow Griffin to run sometimes, which would alter the offense in two different ways.

First, it would diminish the Cowboys' predominant pass-first philosophy. The Cowboys passed on 60 percent of plays last season. Also, in the vast majority of games, the Cowboys passed the ball more than they ran it. That's because, as mobile as Romo is, he doesn't have a scrambling inclination like Michael Vick or Tim Tebow.

Second, Griffin's running tendency would force the offensive linemen outside of their comfort zone. If the Cowboys offensive line looks about the same as it does now, then the Cowboys would be pushing the line to do something they aren't accustomed to doing. They're used to pass blocking most of the time and blocking off tackle for rushing sometimes.

Concerning pass blocking, the Cowboys are used to blocking between the hash marks because Romo is a pocket passer. Griffin is more accurate outside the pocket, and would prefer to throw outside the hash marks. Thus, Jones would have to ensure the Cowboys have pass blockers who are athletic enough to block outside the hash marks.

Also, the Cowboys have suffered too many injuries on the offensive line to have to adjust around a new style of quarterback like Griffin.

Speaking of his different style, Griffin lacks the mechanics Romo has. Romo has great instincts for stepping up in the pocket and moving laterally in the backfield, which Griffin lacks. Also, Romo has a sure over the top release point, for which the Cowboys line is designed to provide passing lanes.

Griffin throws at a three-quarter release point, much different from Romo's release point. The Cowboys would have to design new passing lanes for Griffin, designed around his release point and preference for passing outside the pocket.

Another issue is that Griffin doesn't have much experience taking snaps under center, something Tebow struggles with because he, like Griffin, was used to playing in the spread shotgun.

That's one more thing the Cowboys would have to work with Griffin to develop if they drafted him, which they don't with Romo.

Thus, drafting Griffin would be ludicrous, and Jones knows it. As for drafting Luck, the Indianapolis Colts won't give up the No. 1 spot because they surely know that's the pick they want to make. Cowboys fans pining for Griffin—or Luck, for that matter—are assuming that football happens in a vacuum, and that Griffin can instantly be better than Romo.


Romo Is Too Good to Replace Now

To think that RGIII is automatically better than Romo is patently wrong. Romo has improved over his six years as a starter. Romo has posted his best interception rates and adjusted yards per pass averages in his last two full seasons. In 2011, Romo established himself as someone who can win games in the clutch.

Indeed, Romo did blow games early in the season against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions.

Still, he had four comeback wins. That includes comeback wins in Weeks 2 and 3 with a broken rib and puncture lung. Those wins are marks of true heroics. His 77-yard pass to Jesse Holley in overtime in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers was simply amazing.

Further, Romo became an accurate, steady quarterback in 2011. He had just 10 interceptions, a 1.9 percent interception rate (fourth in the NFL), 66.3 percent pass completion rate (third) and 102.5 quarterback rating (fourth).

By the way, Romo is one of the most proficient touchdown passers. His 31 touchdown passes in 2011 placed fifth. Also, his 5.7 percent touchdown rate is second among active quarterbacks.

Jones knows that Romo is a very good quarterback. He recognizes how foolish it would be to throw away one of the top five or 10 quarterbacks for one who only has the potential—not the certainty—to be that good.

Stephen Jones, Jerry's son and the Cowboys' vice president of player personnel, spoke for his father in telling the Star-Telegram, "We are going to take care of Tony. Tony is going to be a Cowboy."

Consider that case closed.


Conclusion: Don't Believe Any Talk or Suggestion of the Cowboys Drafting RGIII

Sports Illustrated's Peter King threw out the hypothetical scenario of the Cowboys slinging Romo to the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Griffin, which he acknowledged flies in the face of Stephen Jones' remarks.

For King to do that is pure pandering to the unaware fans who claim that Romo will blow any game he possibly can.

Any suggestion that the Cowboys try to trade up for Griffin, let alone deal Romo to do so, is patently wrong. Romo is better than Griffin right now, and will be as such for at least two years. Romo gives the Cowboys a chance to compete right now. He carries the Cowboys to victory and generally avoids mistakes.

Meanwhile, Griffin isn't a sure thing. He might not transition well into the NFL. His throwing style may not work for the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys might not be able to adapt to his playing style.

Jerry Jones and the Cowboys know what they have in Romo, and they know to stick with it. Don't expect that to change.