2012 NFL Draft: Is Baylor's Robert Griffin III a Franchise Caliber Quarterback?
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We saw a lot of great individual performances this weekend from some of college football’s top stars like Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Boise State’s Kellen Moore, but without a doubt, the most eye-opening performance of opening weekend belonged to Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.
Griffin helped lead the Bears to a wild 50-48 upset of No. 14 TCU in Waco on Friday night, in what turned out to be the most exciting game of the season so far.
RG3 torched the Horned Frogs secondary, completing 21 of his 27 attempts for 359 yards and five touchdowns, proving that he’s much more than just your typical dual-threat quarterback.
The 6’2’’, 220-pound junior’s superior arm strength was put on display on a few perfectly thrown 40-plus-yard deep passes that resulted in momentum-changing touchdowns.
Griffin finished the game with an astounding 250 passer rating, something that seemed unheard of against a Gary Patterson-coached defense.
His sensational showing skyrocketed him into the Heisman discussion, and it’s even had some people wondering if Baylor is a legitimate threat in the Big 12 conference this year.
While the Bears defense will have to improve dramatically if they actually want to compete with the top teams in the conference like Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State this year, there’s no doubt that if Griffin can put together a string of games like the one we saw against TCU, he should have his name right up there with the rest of the top Heisman candidates throughout the season.
You also have to wonder if Griffin manages to put together a big campaign this year, would he think about entering the 2012 NFL draft?
Yes, it's way too early to even be thinking about that, but as it stands right now, this year’s quarterback class is Stanford’s Andrew Luck and then everybody else, and there’s not a clear cut No. 2 guy behind Luck just yet.
Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, USC’s Matt Barkley (both juniors) and Arizona’s Nick Foles and San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley, two of the top seniors, could all be in the mix to be taken right after Luck, but what about Griffin?
Where does he rank among the top eligible quarterback prospects?
Coming into the season, many had typecast Griffin as just another dangerous dual-threat quarterback who would have a tough time transitioning to a pro-style offense, but if you actually dig deeper, you see that Griffin might just be right up there with the other top names behind Luck.
No other quarterback, and maybe no other player in the entire country, can match Griffin’s God-given athleticism, and it’s a characteristic that sets him apart from the rest of the crowd.
He doesn’t just fit into that ‘great athlete playing quarterback’ mold either, a la Michigan’s Denard Robinson.
As we saw on Friday night, Griffin can sling it with the best of them, and the touch and accuracy he showed on some of his deep throws was quite a treat to watch.
Not only does the junior signal-caller have the arm strength, he’s also got the accuracy you look for in a pro quarterback
Griffin completed 67 percent of his passes in 2010 and he finished the year with a 22-8 TD to INT ratio.
You also have to take into account the fact that he was still recovering from a serious knee injury last season and now that he’s back to full health, he has a chance to be even better in 2011.
Last year, we watched Griffin basically single-handedly revive the Baylor football program, as he guided the Bears to their first bowl game in 16 years, so the fact that he might only be getting started sounds pretty scary.
The only true concern that you can really say you have about RG3 is his size.
At just 6-foot-2, Griffin doesn’t possess the prototypical size you look for in a pro-style drop back passer, but then again, Barkley is the same height and nobody seems to downgrade him for it.
Is Griffin still a little raw and rough around the edges?
Sure, but remember, he’s only played two seasons and change in college. He’s still got a ton of room to grow and develop.
Griffin truly has all the traits you look for—the mobility, the accuracy, the arm strength and the mental makeup—to become a starting quarterback in the NFL some day.
Even though he didn’t enter the season in the conversation with some of the other big-name quarterback prospects, RG3 has showed the type of intriguing skills that make him a must-watch player this season.
Remember, going into last season, Cam Newton wasn’t on the radar either, and he turned out to be the No. 1 pick.
I don’t know if Griffin is capable of making that kind of huge leap, especially with Luck in the picture, but personally, right now, I’d only put him behind the four big quarterback names: Luck, Jones, Barkley and Foles, and it’s certainly not a distant fifth.
Griffin will have a great opportunity to shine this season, throwing to a speedy receiver corps, led by Kendall Wright, who also has a shot to be a pretty high draft pick.
After his performance on Friday night, Robert Griffin III has surely caught the attention of not just fans, but pro scouts as well, and it should be interesting to see if he can keep this momentum going throughout the entire season.
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