Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor quarterback, does not like finishing second to anyone in any endeavor.
That is why Griffin, honored Monday as the winner of the 2011 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award during a ceremony at the Fort Worth Club, refuses to shut the door on the possibility that he will be taken with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft even though multiple draft analysts predict that honor will go to former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck when the Indianapolis Colts exercise the selection in April.
"I want to be the best. I want to be [taken] No. 1... But I also want to be wanted," Griffin said. "Whether I get drafted first or not, it's not going to change the way that I play or the confidence that I have in my own ability."
Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, said he views this week's NFL Combine, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis, as a "business trip" in which he can show teams that he has the skills worthy of being the first overall pick. NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. said last month that Griffin (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) has "no chance" of surpassing Luck (6-4, 235) in the estimation of Colts officials or in his draft rankings.
"That book is closed," Kiper said.
Griffin smiled when asked about Kiper's assessment and acknowledged it is something he can use for motivation between now and draft day.
"You never want to feel like everybody thinks you're a sure thing in life because it can rob you of your motivation to go out and get better," said Griffin, who is working with quarterback consultant Terry Shea in efforts to sharpen skills that will be tested at the combine. "You've got to work on what you can control. I can control how I perform and what I say. That's all I can do. When it comes to Mel and those guys,... they've done it for a long time. They've had a lot of hits and a few misses."
Ideally, Griffin wants to become one of Kiper's 2012 misses. To make that happen, Griffin said he plans to be measured and weighed at the combine, where he will run the 40-yard dash, interview with teams and take part in agility drills.
But he said he is "leaning towards" not throwing to unfamiliar receivers in Indianapolis. Instead, Griffin said he probably will wait to throw for scouts at his pro day workout in Waco -- which Griffin has moved up to March 21, one day before Luck's scheduled session at Stanford.
Griffin said his most important task at the combine will be to convince NFL executives that skills honed in Baylor's record-setting spread attack -- which did not even include a playbook until coach Art Briles put one together this season -- can translate to the next level.
"I'm excited to wow them in the interviews... just so they can understand it's not as simple as some people make our spread out to be," said Griffin, a noted collector of colorful socks who received a special pair Monday from O'Brien officials that were emblazoned with the trophy. "It's a different type of spread."
As for his relationship with Luck, who also has been outspoken about his desire to be the top pick, Griffin said: "We can't be best friends because of it, but we're not enemies, either. We're both competitors. Whether he goes first or I go first, I'll be excited."
Griffin put himself under consideration to be a top pick by throwing for 4,293 yards last season, with 37 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also rushed for 699 yards and 10 scores while leading Baylor to a 10-3 record that tied the school record for most victories in a season.
Jim Kelly, the 2011 O'Brien Legends Award winner who led the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls in his NFL career, said Griffin has "everything that you need" to succeed in professional football.
"When I look at a quarterback, I look at what he does when things break down," Kelly said. "He's got the escapability. He's got the arm... I like how he steps up in the pocket and makes his progressions."
One of Griffin's greatest gifts is his speed: 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. An Olympic-caliber hurdler who focused on football in his final three seasons in college, Griffin said his track career is "in waiting" but could be resumed at a later date.
"As long as I'm able to run at a high level into my 40s, track will always be an option," Griffin said. "Right now, I'm completely invested in football... I probably won't run in any meets during the off-season. But a track workout, here and there, can set you up great for football."
Griffin hopes his experience at this week's combine sets him up to become the Colts' top pick in April. If not, he's been following speculation that other teams may trade up to the No. 2 pick, owned by St. Louis, and spend it on him. What would it mean to see Cleveland [fourth], Washington [sixth] or another team pay a premium to take him?
"It would mean a lot," Griffin said. "It would mean they truly believe in the player that I am, the player that I can be for their franchise... It's a huge time of uncertainty right now. But I do think it's safe to say that, as long as everything goes as planned with no trades, I won't go lower than four. That's something I can look forward to."
But he'd rather go first. Griffin hasn't closed the book on the book on that possibility, even if Kiper has.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760