February 24, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- It really doesn't matter whether Robert Griffin III throws at the scouting combine during the weekend's quarterback drills (he won't, as he confirmed on Friday). There's enough on tape for anyone to see -- the ridiculous deep arm that can seemingly fling the ball 50 yards downfield with a little flick of the wrist, the pocket presence people aren't going to think he has because he came from a spread offense, and the football sense that allowed him to complete 72.4 percent of his passes in 2011 with a 10.7 yards per pass average that led the nation.
No, what people needed to see from Robert Griffin was the general intelligence and composure that can fill a room. And during his Friday media session, Griffin hit it out of the park like few draft prospects ever have. Andrew Luck's presser, which came shortly after Griffin's, was the personification of his passing style -- expert, in the pocket, efficient, and always professional. Griffin's was the manifestation of a playing style that can feature just about anything -- from goofy humor to serious dissertations about just what spread quarterbacks are capable of these days.
The first question posed to Griffin was, "what kind of socks do you have on today?" They weren't the Superman socks we wore when he won the Heisman Trophy; apparently, he felt a bit more stealth this time out.
"I've got Ninja Turtles on today," he said, and pulled his left pants leg up to show the appreciative media.
Asked about more serious subjects, starting with the football acumen that people appear to assume no quarterbacks a few shades darker than the "average" could ever possess, Griffin got into the differences between the one-read spread that Tim Tebow (yes, Tim Tebow!) ran at Florida, and the style of offense played at Baylor.
"I think it's just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback," Griffin said of that he does. "You're run-first, throw second. I think I've proven I'm throw first, then run if I need to.
"I'd like to sit down with them [the analysts] and show 'em how simple it is. It's not a simple offense. It's a good offense. It's a really great offense and it's a quarterback-friendly offense. Simple would not be the word to describe it."
For one thing, the Baylor offense Griffin commanded was far from a two-digit "grip and rip it" style; there were multiple options per play, and not just on the ground after the quarterback decided to bail out. And when it comes time to run an NFL offense -- any NFL offense -- Griffin has no doubt that the switch to more base plays and a more complex verbiage will be a challenge he can overcome.
"Different concepts, people understand them differently," he said of the opportunity to draw up plays and memorize concepts with NFL teams looking on. "In the NFL they're run a little bit different. We ran a numbers-based and a concept system in college. I like getting on that board or showing them or watching the film with them so they can kind of understand what we're going through as an offense."
I asked Griffin if he would like his future NFL coaching staff, whoever it may contain, to do what the Carolina Panthers did with Cam Newton -- to take certain spread plays from their franchise quarterback's days and add those plays to a more standard NFL playbook.
"I think those elements that they brought out show how good of coaches that they are. If you go back and you work to a player's strengths, it can be great. But I'm not going to be the one that walks in the door with five plays with Baylor and like, 'Hey, we've got to run these.' If they want to do that, I'm more than happy to go with that. If they want to know some concepts from Baylor, I'd be happy to bring coach Briles up there. My job is to learn their offense and to be respectful for them that way."
It's hard to imagine that he couldn't take that on, but already, there are some of the same issues that Newton got a year earlier for one simple (and stupid) reason. When asked about Griffin's ability to show NFL teams that he can get up on the whiteboard and draw up what he's asked, based on what he's learned to far, esteemed draft expert Mike Mayock put it simply: "I don't know how he'll do in that setting."
Griffin has heard that stuff before -- he knows that some people will put him in a box based on nothing to do with his own intelligence and character. All he can do is to put it behind him, and to anyone who watched his media session in Indianapolis, those questions will surely be put to rest.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the rush of NFL teams scrambling to trade with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick might be one of the few things Griffin can't outrun.
And that's only because he'd rather let the NFL catch up to him.
Posted Jul 2 2012
Posted Jul 3 2012
Posted Jun 21 2012