The pre-draft season is the NFL's best time for hyperbole, overstatement and misinformation, but what George Whitfield told Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star is a doozy even in these strange times. Whitfield, the longtime quarterback performance coach who tutored Cam Newton last year and now works with Andrew Luck, was asked about the possibility that the Indianapolis Colts might take Robert Griffin III with the first overall pick instead of Luck, who's been the expected #1 pick for months.
"If they over-think this, they're going to make a mistake they'll regret for years," Whitfield told Kravitz. He then elaborated on the (perhaps very accurate) perception that while Luck is seen as the safer pick, RGIII has more upside from an athletic and arm talent standpoint.
"(Luck is) constantly being categorized as being safe, the sure thing, almost to the point where it's a negative like there's a ceiling, no apparent way for him to get better, like they're describing a girl you've never seen as smart, witty, funny, consistent, without saying anything about her physically. It almost feels like they're looking at him as the guy with the least amount of negatives.
"Let me tell you: He's far from a finished product. He's very far along, but there are still things he's working on mechanically and there are lots of things he'll get better at by being in the NFL. People are now seeing him throw those intermediate and perimeter passes, and those are throws he's been dying to make. You don't think David Shaw (Luck's coach at Stanford) didn't want to make more of those perimeter throws or go downtown more during the season? But look at Stanford's skill position guys. You can only spend within the budget you have.
"But he's athletic. He's cat quick. He's strong. People are saying he's a prototypical pocket passer, like they're putting him in this category. But there's a lot more he can do.''
Personally, I think Whitfield is getting a tad over-sensitive about something that really isn't an issue. Common perception at this point seems to be that Luck is the most legitimately pro-ready college quarterback prospect since either Peyton Manning or John Elway, depending on who you're asking. There's certainly no shame in that. I would agree that certain aspects of Luck's game are undersold -- specifically his ability to throw deep and make virtually any throw on the run -- but to debit a target like tight end Coby Fleener makes Whitfield look a little goofy.
From the quarterback point of view, neither the Colts nor the Washington Redskins, who have the second overall pick after trading up to get it, can lose in this bargain. If the Colts take Luck, I think they'll have a guy who could become a Steve Young-level talent, and since Young is my second-favorite quarterback of all time behind John Elway, that's a pretty high compliment. Griffin, however, has his own special skills -- he's got amazing football intelligence, unparalleled athleticism, a better handle on pro-style offenses than people think, and the kind of deep accuracy that could rival Tom Brady's or Aaron Rodgers' over time.
Having attended Luck's Pro Day on the Stanford campus, I can say without hesitation that it was the most impressive private workout I've ever seen a quarterback go through. But I'll also say this -- I almost didn't bother watching Griffin's Pro Day footage, because what I see on tape of him is so preposterously good. To say that the Colts would regret taking Griffin for years is beyond ridiculous, and makes Whitfield look more like an agent than a performance coach.
"This is probably the closest thing to a pre-arranged marriage since LeBron (James) went to the Cavs,'' Whitfield told Kravitz. "So why would Andrew go above and beyond what most scouts told me was the toughest workout they've ever seen?''
Yep -- that's agent-speak. Best to get back to the QB drills, Coach...
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