With the preseason halfway over, NFL fans have had the chance to see two of the better quarterback prospects in recent memory play it out on the field. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III both possess talent in different areas. This week, with the two playing each other for the first time, I want to examine both and predict who will have the better rookie season.
Luck is a true quarterback, and that's why I love him. I believe a quarterback's job is to pass the football first and run second. Luck has that focus and has been extremely successful with that mentality.
Griffin, on the other hand, strikes me as a quarterback who will look to run first at times. The guy ran for 10 touchdowns in his senior year at Baylor and averaged just about four yards per rush. Just to put that into perspective, the Giants averaged 3.2 yards per carry last year. Granted, they are an NFL team and Griffin has had no experience.
This is what makes me scared of quarterbacks who run in college and think they can do it in the NFL. Michael Vick is the only guy who's been moderately successful doing it for a long time. He's 6' and 215 pounds, and has played a full season once in his career. Griffin is two inches taller than Vick and is about the same weight. You don't play a full season with that style of game unless you're Cam Newton (6'5'', 245 pounds).
So this is my point about Griffin: He will not be a successful runner in this league for 16 games.
The word everyone uses when describing Andrew Luck is "intangibles." His maturity, his leadership and his chemistry with teammates makes him a stand-up guy who can have an impact in the locker room. This Colts team is one that was so used to having a guy under center who possessed all of those. To replace Peyton Manning with someone who is similar in that respect is something that you can't put a price on.
Griffin has intangibles as well. In late July, when he was asked about who the true face of the Redskins franchise was, he talked about his teammates. He basically said that there is no true face of the franchise and the guys in the locker room are hungry to go out there and show people what they're made of.
Now you're probably thinking that any one would say something like this when asked about the pressure of getting right into starting role as a rookie. The difference with Griffin is his swagger. The extra kick that makes his appeal to fans and teammates that much better.
Here's where Robert Griffin has a clear advantage over Andrew Luck: surroundings. The Washington Redskins aren't in rebuilding mode, but they're starting a rookie quarterback. Weird, right? To be honest, this team is a 5-6 win team with the quarterbacks they've had since Mike Shanahan took over in 2010. Donovan McNabb was beyond his years, Rex Grossman can't win without a bona fide offensive threat to throw to, and John Beck is, well, John Beck.
I'll take Griffin over those three. Getting back to the Redskins as a team. They only won five games last year, but in a few of those games, their defense came to play. Washington gave Eli Manning hell in both games last year, sacking him five times and picking him off four times.
On offense, there isn't an incredible amount of playmakers, but there is room for some success. The Redskins re-signed Santana Moss before last season for three years, and they add Pierre Garcon this year who is a great deep ball threat. Griffin is also given two running backs in Tim Hightower and Roy Helu. They don't scare opposing defenses, but in no way is this offense in rebuilding mode. With Griffin, I expect six to eight wins from the Skins this year.
Andrew Luck joins an Indianapolis squad that is a barren wasteland compared to previous years. Coming off its worst season in a long time, this team is the epitome of one in rebuilding mode. Young faces lead the offense, with Donald Brown in the backfield and Austin Collie running routes. Reggie Wayne is still a Colt, which I really like. All that work with Peyton Manning will help Wayne to work in sync with Luck. They also drafted Luck's tight end from Stanford, Coby Fleener.
Having Fleener is huge for Luck because not only is he used to throwing him the ball, but Luck now has someone who he will go through all the first year kinks with and someone who he is used to being around. This translates big time to the field.
In the end, I would seriously think about whether the Colts would have more wins than the Redskins this year. Indianapolis' defense is the big problem and will likely keep the team under six wins if that.
So these are just a few areas of comparison to use when looking at this year's top draft picks. I like them both, but because of where I stand regarding how a quarterback should play the game, I'm giving the edge to Luck every time.