BU's Griffin ready to convert new group of doubters

02/19/2012 10:58 PM

05/25/2014 3:46 PM

Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor quarterback, spent his college career determined to silence recruiters who suggested he would be better served trying to catch passes -- either as a receiver or a defensive back -- than throwing them as an NCAA competitor.

Griffin's collection of 54 Baylor school records suggests otherwise.

So does his status as tonight's honoree at the 2011 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award ceremony at the Fort Worth Club.

Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, led the Bears to a 10-3 record in his final college season by ranking second among FBS players in passing efficiency (189.5 rating) while throwing for 4,293 yards with 37 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. His 72.4 completion rate served as an emphatic reminder to schools that projected him as a defensive back (Texas) or receiver (LSU) coming out of Copperas Cove High School that Griffin has the work ethic to change first impressions.

Now, it is time for Griffin to do likewise with NFL scouts and executives.

If the can turn heads at the NFL Combine, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis, Griffin could trigger a spirited bidding war at April's NFL Draft between teams seeking to trade into the No. 2 spot -- held by the St. Louis Rams, who already have promising young quarterback Sam Bradford -- to position themselves to select Griffin.

Although Griffin has made it clear that he holds out hope of being the top pick in the draft, multiple analysts believe the Indianapolis Colts are set on using that selection on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. That has triggered debate about the skills Griffin (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) will need to show quarterback-starved teams to enhance his stock at the combine. Or whether a team such as Cleveland (fourth pick) or Washington (sixth pick) should pay the premium necessary to trade up and take him with the second overall pick.

"I think he's every bit worth the pick. I think he's special," said Todd McShay, director of college scouting for ESPN Scouts Inc. "If not for Andrew Luck, he'd be in the mix to be the No. 1 pick. I've got him as my No. 3 prospect overall. I think Cleveland, if they really want him, needs to move up to get him. I think the No. 2 pick is up for public auction by the Rams and whoever pays the price is going to get a heck of a player."

Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network, is less convinced. Although he called Griffin "the most exciting player in this year's draft," Mayock conceded he has reservations.

"Is there a downside to Robert Griffin? There is," Mayock said. "He might be really special. He might not be... The question is what I don't see on tape. He doesn't throw with anticipation because he doesn't have to in Baylor's spread offense. He doesn't have all that much footwork because he hasn't needed that, either."

A key for Griffin in Indianapolis, Mayock said, will be his ability to break down videotapes and diagram plays in private sessions with teams.

"I don't know how he'll do in that setting," Mayock said.

McShay, on the other hand, said: "I'd be surprised if he doesn't floor teams with his intelligence."

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. suggested the most important test Griffin faces in Indianapolis will come when he is measured. Because he lacks Luck's dimensions (6-4, 235) and NFL bloodlines (son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck), Griffin's height could become a sticking point to general managers if he is not 6-2 or taller.

"Is he really 6-2? I think that's a big question," Kiper said. "If he's 6-1, there won't be as much buzz. That's just the way it is. You're transitioning from college to pro. All things factor in."

In a recent interview, Griffin said he was prepared for any and all nitpicks, including concerns about his height.

"There's that ideal image of what the quarterback is supposed to look like and I'm on the borderline," Griffin said. "I measured myself when I got to Baylor and I was 6-2. I haven't shrunk ... I'm not worried about it. Height is not an issue."

Neither is arm strength. Scouts rank Griffin high in that department, along with mobility and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash). But Kiper said Griffin, an Olympic-caliber hurdler who focused on football in his final three years in college, may not be as elusive in the NFL as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick because Griffin's track training makes him a "straight-line guy" as a runner.

"He's not as explosive in and out of cuts as Michael Vick," Kiper said. "He's not as elusive, going side-to-side, as Michael Vick. But RG3 is a better passer than Michael Vick. His mobility is excellent, but he's a straight-line guy."

Griffin also is a mobile quarterback with a pass-first mentality, similar to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young. That is the trait McShay said he likes best about Griffin.

"He keeps his eyes downfield," McShay said. "He can throw from a lot of different release points. And I love his mental make-up... I saw major improvement this year with his accuracy, his anticipation for throws and his touch. He can still improve, of course. Sometimes, he needs to take a little off his fastball. And his accuracy will grow."

In April, Griffin will learn how high his NFL draft stock really is. For tonight, he'll simply revel in being the 2011 O'Brien Award winner.

Griffin's career stats

Passing

Year

Games

Comp.-Att.-Yds.

TD-INT

2008

12

160-267-2,091

15-3

2009

3

45-69-481

4-0

2010

13

304-454-3,501

22-8

2011

13

291-402-4,293

37-6

Totals

41

800-1,192-10,366

78-17

Rushing

Year

Games

Att.-Yds.

Avg.

TD

2008

12

173-843

4.9

13

2009

3

27-77

2.9

2

2010

13

149-635

4.3

8

2011

13

179-699

3.9

10

Totals

41

528-2,254

4.3

33

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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