April's NFL Draft was one for the ages. One of the most hyped quarterback prospects ever, Stanford's Andrew Luck was selected No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts. Baylor's Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was taken second by the Washington Redskins. It was only the fifth time since 1967 that quarterbacks were taken with the first two picks of the draft.
Expectations are high for both Luck and RGIII coming into 2012, with both already given the starting role well before training camp and deemed the franchise savior. When it comes to the race for Rookie of the Year though, there are a few reasons why Griffin III has a definitive advantage over Luck and will blow the competition away.
Being the first pick in the draft, Luck went to the league's worst team in Indianapolis. The Colts began last season 0-13 before winning two of their final three games to finish at a still abysmal 2-14. On the offensive side of the ball, Luck has Austin Collie and a 33-year-old Reggie Wayne as his primary targets.
RGIII has a better surrounding cast in Washington. He gets to throw to a rising star in Pierre Garcon, formerly of the Colts, and tight end Fred Davis. Davis finished eighth among tight ends in receiving yards despite being suspended for the final four games of the season in 2011.
The speed of Robert Griffin III gives him another way of attack in the Redskins offense. He ran for 2,254 yards and scored 33 touchdowns on the ground in his career at Baylor, and his dual-threat ability makes him an exciting offensive player at the NFL level. Cam Newton had resounding success in his rookie season as a runner and a passer, and Robert Griffin III will look to achieve the same success in 2012.
Young quarterbacks with good speed, such as former Atlanta Falcon Mike Vick, think of running as soon as any pressure arises. Griffin III has already shown that he's committed to the pass and will only utilize his speed when he has to. He talked about a moment in last week's preseason opener that reflected his early growth and maturity as an NFL quarterback.
The thought never crossed my mind to run...I went through my first three reads really confidently, knowing the protection was going to hold up, that at some point, one guy is going to be open, because on a lot of plays, one guy is wide open and the rest are blanketed.
His confession about a simple second down play where he went through his progressions and hit his fourth receiver is what separates Griffin III from most mobile passers. He's going to stay in the pocket and not run himself into trouble if there are other options. Such poise and maturity as a 22-year-old means a breakout season for the Heisman Trophy winner. Expect him to add another piece of hardware as the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.