Robert Griffin III: The Biggest Key to RGIII's Success in His Rookie Year

Tom NataliCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Robert Griffin III (R) from Baylor holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Griffin was selected #2 overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

From 2002 to 2011, 30 quarterbacks were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Thirteen were selected within the first five picks and five former Heisman Trophy winners were taken as well.

Out of those 30 quarterbacks, only seven of them could be considered “hits”: Carson Palmer (arguable), Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan (arguable), Matt Stafford (arguable).

Of the 30 quarterbacks, five of them remain in question: Alex Smith, Jay Cutler Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman.

Six of them still need a larger resume in order to be given a label: Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton (I know, he had an unbelievable rookie season, but one year isn’t enough), Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert (I know he was awful last season, but once again, give him more than a year) and Christian Ponder.

The reason why I’m providing all of this information is to show you that there are no guarantees in the NFL, especially for quarterbacks.

As much as we can rave about Robert Griffin III, which I am guilty of as well, we still don’t know. To me, that is absolutely terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s not to like about RGIII? He has everything that you look for in a franchise player; however, he hasn’t even completed a pass yet.

So what’s going to separate Griffin from the likes of David Carr, Vince Young, Matt Leinart or JaMarcus Russell? What will be the key to his hopeful success?

Is it the coaching staff that will groom him correctly? Will his teammates help provide a winning culture? Will his body hold up? Will Robert take control of the situation and manage his and the Redskins' destiny?

Fact is, I really don’t know. I certainly hope so. I think he’s going to be great, however, that’s not enough, not yet. I will say that if Robert Griffin continues to do what he’s been doing his whole life and that’s to be himself, then I have no doubts that he can eventually reverse the Redskins' 20-year curse.

If RGIII continues to be himself, then we all know that he’ll be fully committed. We know he’ll remain humble while being a team-first guy. We know that he will earn the respect of his teammates and for the game itself.

He will rely on his athleticism and make big plays, something the Redskins offense has lacked for years. He will cooperate with the media and always say the right things. (I feel like I’m describing necessary criteria for the guy who wants to date my little sister.)

Of course this is all easier said than done, and we will not reach a definitive answer for at least his contract length.

While being comfortable in his own skin, Griffin has shown that he has that “it” factor; that intangible aspect that franchises look for in their star quarterback.

By all accounts, Robert has “it” and proved to the Redskins organization that he can transfer that quality to the professional level. To me, that’s his most important quality. Not his arm strength or Olympic-style speed, but his personality traits.

I’m just thinking out loud, but has there been a Washington athlete under this much pressure? And is that pressure fair?

First of all, I’m really trying to think of another local athlete in comparison to RGIII and I can’t. The pressure put on the young quarterback is definitely not fair. However, this is what it’s like for the Washington Redskins.

Sure some could argue that Alex Ovechkin has been pressured over the years. The same goes with Gilbert Arenas during the Wizards' playoff runs, but this is the Redskins.

They are the most popular team in the area in the nation’s most popular sport. The organization and their fans are so desperate for a winner that a player of Griffin’s caliber makes us the kid in the candy store but multiple that by a million—no, that’s not an exaggeration.

As we are at the night before Robert Griffin making his professional debut, (or RGIII Eve as my friend called it) the renewed optimism has engulfed the fanbase or could be downright obnoxious for non-Redskins fans.

So we’ll go ahead and watch the cheesy introduction to tomorrow’s night broadcast with highlights of Sammy Baugh, John Riggins’ stiff-arm and Joe Gibbs being carried off the field and segue our way into the new face of the franchise.

Again, I will start to believe, but this time I don’t have to convince myself over Rex Grossman, Patrick Ramsey or Mark Brunell and many more.

This time I get to cheer on the Heisman Trophy winner who took the country by storm and I can’t wait. I would also like to point out that my streak of Graham Gano bashing has ended. You're welcome.