Robert Griffin [ 6’2 / 220 / b. 02/1990 ] — Quarterback / Baylor / Junior (RS)
A majority of the talk surrounding the 2012 Quarterback Class is based on names like Luck, Jones and Barkley. But not far behind is Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Through six games this season, Griffin is making national headlines and positioning himself for a nice run at the Heisman Trophy. At one time considered an atheltic short-project in the NFL, Griffin is proving that he is worth more than a second- or third-round selection and his chances of being an NFL quarterback are very realistic.
Accuracy — Numerous scouts have criticized Griffin’s accuracy, saying that anything other than his deep ball is questionable. I’m not one of those guys. Griffin is an accurate passer ( 66.3% in college ) and seems to be even more accurate on his deep passes. Griffin shows very good judgement in hitting receivers in stride and his accuracy on the run would make bootleg-loving coaches drool.
Athleticism — While in high school, Griffin lettered in football, basketball and track. He started two seasons at quarterback and broke multiple state records in track, even earning the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award. Griffin’s athleticism translates very nicely to the football field and his ability becomes extremely versatile. When you watch Griffin run, his strides appear perfect, his feet are quick, he has tremendous leaping ability and his hands are pretty sure for a guy that rarely catches passes. This young man is a Mr. Everything.
Arm Strength — Arguably one of my favorite aspects of Griffin’s game is his powerful arm. In Baylor’s opening game against TCU this year, Griffin’s arm was on full display when he was tossing 50-yard bombs down the sideline. When Griffin is on the run, his throws appear to become even more powerful.
Mobility — Considering his track background, Griffin’s mobility and speed isn’t a surprise. However, at the quarterback position, Griffin’s combination of speed, vision and elusiveness make him very hard to contain. Running the spread offense at Baylor, Griffin is accustomed to running the football, a la Vince Young at Texas. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Griffin is a run-first quarterback, but some of the plays within the scheme call for it. In tuck-and-run scenarios, opposing defenses know that Griffin past the second-level is likely a break-away to the endzone and very few have a chance at catching him.
Intelligence — Before enrolling at Baylor, Griffin graduated No. 7 in his senior class at Copperas Cove High School in Texas. Currently, Griffin is working on acquiring his Masters Degree at Baylor after earning his Bachelors in Political Science in just three years. According to his collegiate biography, Griffin also has aspirations of attending law school. With a first-round draft selection likely in his future, Griffin may have to hold off on that application. Although examples such as Alex Smith don’t necessarily support the argument that smarter is better, I would be much higher on a young man with a brain than a young man without one.
Leadership — Both of Griffin’s parents, according to online sources, are retired United States Army Sergeants. Obviously I’m not 100 percent certain that it comes from his upbringing, but Griffin’s leadership on the football field doesn’t go unnoticed. As a true freshman in 2008, Baylor finished the season with just a 4-8 record. In 2009, before his injury, Baylor was 2-1 and ended the season with another 4-8 record. The following season gave Baylor their first winning season under Griffin, when in 2010 the Bears finished 7-6. Through six games this season, Griffin has the Bears sitting at 4-2 and considered much more dangerous than their record indicates. It should also be noted that over Griffin’s entire career at Baylor, the Bears defense has never ranked higher than 77th-overall. Griffin has that ability to put a team on his back.
Precision — One could argue that Griffin’s precision belongs under the ‘accuracy’ category, but it’s really a characteristic in itself when you watch game tape. As mentioned before, the deep-ball is arguably Griffin’s most precise pass. His out-routes are generally made with ease and his throws on hitch and deep-in routes are generally consistent and on the numbers.
Pocket Presence — Thinking of presence in separation of poise, Griffin’s pocket presence shouldn’t go unnoticed. Perhaps it’s the benefit of the offense or the fact that he has over 400 rushing attempts in four years, but Griffin can feel the heat and escape at will ( sometimes untouched ). There’s the obvious situations in which the offensive line doesn’t really give him the chance, but in scenarios where a window opens and only for a short while, Griffin typically makes the right call.
Toughness — Suffering an isolated tear in his ACL after just three games of his sophomore season, Griffin hasn’t missed a beat since returning to the field. Injuries are never something you want to hear about when scouting a prospect, but the recovery could very well be just as important as the injury itself. How did the player respond; was the player responsible during the recovery; what did the player do while he was kept out of live game action, etc. Griffin’s toughness during game situations is also commendable. Whether it’s taking a sack, being tackled after a long run or being crunched between two defenders while receiving a pass (see: TCU), Griffin grits it out and bounces back up, prepared to take the next play.
Quick Release — It seems like somewhat of a forgotten trait for quarterbacks to have a quick release. In my opinion, the quick release can literally make or break a quarterback and his career. For Griffin, although he has been accused of using somewhat of a wind-up motion, his release ( to me ) comes as a natural reflex. Add in the fact that Griffin remains accurate with such a quick release and it’s easy to see how RG3 can torch defenses with his arm.
Size — Although having your quarterback standing at around 6’4 or 6’5 is ideal, Griffin’s 6’2, 220-pound frame is nothing to look down on. With his athletic build and thickness, Griffin is proportioned as an athlete and sizeable enough to shed tackles, absorb hits and push for the extra yard.
Weaknesses / Improvement Areas
Mechanics — Griffin has been blamed for sometimes using a wind-up motion in the pocket. For those unfamiliar with the “wind-up”, think Tim Tebow and how much coaches, analysts, critics and everyone else hated it. To be honest, the wind-up can lead to tough roads ahead for a young quarterback, but Griffin’s isn’t on that level. To be honest, I enjoy Griffin’s quick release so much that the wind-up is either minimal or non-existent. Regardless, NFL coaches will be able to fix Griffin’s throwing motion ( if they even see a problem with it ) by the middle of his rookie season.
Play-Calling — Given the offense ran at Baylor, Griffin has little to no experience actually calling plays himself. For four seasons, Griffin has grown accustomed to scanning the sidelines before every snap in search of the play. And while NFL teams do employ coordinators to call plays, Griffin will also be forced to use some improvisation and audibles from time to time. In my opinion, this comes with experience.
Offensive Scheme — Many are skeptical of taking a quarterback that comes from a program that runs the Spread offense. But for every Vince Young, there’s a Sam Bradford. For every Tim Tebow, there’s a Cam Newton (yet to be determined, but you get the idea). The point is, it’s not necessarily the scheme that forces scouts to rethink the quarterback’s ability to play at the next level. It’s the fact that the quarterback spends very little time under center. In the Spread offense, quarterbacks are lined up in a shotgun formation and asked to make zone-reads. In the NFL, quarterbacks are under center much more often than in the shotgun formation. So this basically comes down to familiarity. Can the Spread quarterback be effective when lining up under center?
Poise — Referring back to my separation of pocket presence and poise, I could understand someone that argued against Griffin’s poise in the pocket. However, one must remember that the Spread offense often calls for the quarterback to possess a run-first mentality. If someone wants to argue and say that Griffin leaves the pocket too early, it’s certainly a valid argument. But in a different scheme, I don’t think this is much of a concern. For now, it’s fair to argue. But please don’t allow me to confuse you with thinking that Griffin doesn’t have self-compsure in the pocket. It’s just that he may leave the pocket a little early once in a while.
Footwork — Like a majority of college quarterback prospects, Griffin can sometimes catch a case of “happy feet” that ultimately affects what he does in terms of tucking the ball or making an accurate throw. Although NFL coaches will work on this, it’s certainly an area of improvement for Griffin at this point in his career.
Durability — Although I have zero questions regarding Griffin’s durability or toughness, it has to show up on this list. Griffin’s sophomore year in 2009 was cut short due to an isolated tear in his ACL. Since the injury, Griffin has bounced back very well. But whenever ACL, MCL or ligaments are mentioned, it’s cause for at least slight concern.
2008 — 12 games / 59.9% / 2,091 yards / 15 TD / 3 INT / 98.7 RTG / 173 rushes / 843 yards / 13 TD
2009 — 3 games / 65.2% / 481 yards / 4 TD / 0 INT / 104.8 RTG / 27 rushes / 77 yards / 2 TD
2010 — 13 games / 67.0% / 3,501 yards / 22 TD / 8 INT / 98.8 RTG / 149 rushes / 462 yards / 8 TD
2011 — 6 games (pr) / 78.0% / 1,950 yards / 22 TD / 2 INT / 146.3 RTG / 72 rushes / 202 yards / 2 TD