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The Shutdown Corner Interview: Robert Griffin III

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(Getty Images)

In two days, Robert Griffin III will hear his name called as the second-overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, and the Washington Redskins' next franchise quarterback. No conjecture or surprise there. Where it gets interesting, of course, is when RGIII finally hits the field in an NFL game, and we see how all of his attributes -- the mobility, the game intelligence, the freakish deep accuracy -- transfer to the pros. In the meantime, Mr. Griffin has been a pretty busy guy -- Tuesday was his "media car wash" day, and we were fortunate enough to get him first on the schedule.

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(H/T: @dcsportsbog)

When we talked to RGIII about a number of things, he was in a car on the way to the Subway restaurant on Fifth Avenue in New York City, where a Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich replica in his likeness will be unveiled Tuesday. Subway has done this before with Ndamukong Suh and others, and now, it's Griffin's turn. it's not quite the same as a bronze bust in Canton, but it's a pretty good start. The "food statue" was made by artist James Victor of Conshohocken, Pa., and contains more than 300 pieces of Subway chicken. It's to promote the new Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich, and that's where we started.

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Shutdown Corner: Is it getting a little crazy for you at this point?

Robert Griffin III: Most definitely, but it's a once in a lifetime experience, so you've got to enjoy it.

SC: Have you seen the Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich replica of yourself that Subway put together for you yet?

RGIII: I have not seen it yet, but I'm excited to -- hopefully, it looks nothing like me (laughs)! Nah, it'll be cool.

SC: Now, will this Smokehouse Chicken RGIII replica have a selfish streak?

RGIII: I don't know -- there might be some selfish people trying to eat it. I just found out about the replica yesterday when I got to Subway. But that's something I've always done -- my dad got on me [about nutrition] at an early age. It's helped me during football season. It's a quick meal, and it's also filling. I've loved it, and I continue to love it, even through all of this [pre-draft craziness].

SC: Moving to your throwing style -- I've obviously watched a lot of your tape, and returned to it this week when I was writing up [receiver] Kendall Wright for the Shutdown 50. The thing that always stands out about you is your deep accuracy. What's the process of getting that down consistently? Obviously, you had the velocity, but when it comes to having those seam and sideline patterns down so well, what has the development been like? How often do you work on those?

RGIII: It's all about timing when it comes to those passes. Kendall's a really fast guy, so it's kinda hard to overthrow him, but the thing was -- two years ago, we might have hit one or two out of every five of the deep balls we threw, and this last season, we would hit four out of five. So, we were really consistent on those types of throws. We've always been good at the deep ball -- two out of five isn't bad in anybody's book if you're throwing touchdowns, but to hit four out of five every time we threw it just made our season a lot more special. It showed off the talents and abilities we had.

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SC: Two things that really stood out to me, especially on your 2011 tape -- you're far more comfortable under center than people might assume, and you're pretty practices in the pocket. You'll get lateral in the pocket, move up to throw, and all that. You're not automatically a bailout thrower who defaults to run. How have you seen that process show up on the field?

RGIII: It's what you just said -- it's a process. My freshman year, I was looked at more as a running quarterback, probably because I ran the ball 20 times per game. But coach [Art] Briles trusted me with the ball more in my last two full seasons, and it showed up on tape. It showed up in my development -- not necessarily to change my entire game, but add pieces to it, along with the fact that I can run a little bit. It's been a good experience, and it's shown that I've grown every year -- I haven't stayed stagnant.

SC: At the combine, you mentioned that it wouldn't be a problem for you to pick up the kind of terminology you'd use in a West Coast offense. With the Redskins trading up and pretty obviously taking you second overall. I saw the segment on the NFL Network with Steve Mariucci, where he asked you to recall a play back to him, and you rolled off the protection without being asked as well. Have you been working with [Redskins offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan at Baylor, and if so, how is that going? And are you getting more well-versed in that terminology?

RGIII: Yeah. You have to start at the base, but working with the Shanahans at Waco and in Washington was just an evaluation period to see if I could get it down -- spit it back to them, and those types of things. I was able to do that, but ... you can memorize all of it, but you don't really know it until you apply it on the field. I'm looking forward to getting into camp and having to do those types of things -- to apply what I know, instead of just putting it on a piece of paper. Everybody can do that -- it's the ones who can apply it at a high level that end up being great.

SC: You ran some pretty common spread concepts at Baylor -- a lot of trips/bunch; really wide formations at times. When you see a West Coast offense in a playbook or on tape, what are some of the things you identify as common characteristics?

RGIII: One common thing is a lot of formations -- they're going to move guys around and do a lot of motion. The zone running scheme, of course, but aside from that, it's all different. The hashmarks are closer, the defensive players are All-Big Ten, All-Big-12 guys ... it'll be a faster game, but that's why they put better people around you, and I'm just excited to go out and play the game. That's the only way you can get your learning curve, so I'm excited to go play.

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SC: When it comes to your refinement, what have you been working on?

RGIII: The same stuff I was working on for my Pro Day -- connecting my drops to the kinds of throws I'm going to have to make, making sure I'm in rhythm, and staying focused. Hard work pays off -- hard work beats talent any day, but if you're talented and work hard, it's hard to be beat. I keep that motivation, and I keep going out and working hard.

SC: After football, what's the ultimate plan with the law degree?

RGIII: I don't know what the ultimate plan is, but the plan is to get the law degree. If that doesn't happen, get my masters in digital media. But I don't focus on those things right now -- the focus is on football.

SC: You've talked about what your parents have done for you as far as discipline and living the right way. There's obviously a lot of steps to take on this current path, but how much pride is there in your family that you've made it this far? What is that feeling like?

RGIII: You feel really good because you're able to reward your parents. They can see that you've "made it." Of course, from this point on, it's up to me to decide what I do from here. They're looking forward to me being a professional athlete, represent our family, and put our family somewhere it's never been before. It's always great to be able to make people feel good, and all my family is extremely proud.

SC: Finally, I have to ask -- what are the socks today?

RGIII: I have some special gift socks from Subway. I'm wearing some Subway socks, and they feel pretty good.

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