I’m intrigued by Robert Griffin and I’m starting to think he could sneak into the 1st round should he enter the draft this year.
Griffin is an elite athlete who compares favorably to Michael Vick in terms of his ability to run with the football. But to evaluate him, you have to take those plays out of the mix. His ability to run is nice, but without the ability to stand in the pocket and throw he can’t be considered an elite prospect.
At first glance all you notice about Griffin is the athleticism, but a closer look turns up some more traditional skills.
I went back and looked at his game against TCU – arguably the best defense he’s faced this season – to see how he performed in NFL-style plays. Basically what I was looking for was how he handled pressure and how he looked when standing in the pocket.
Griffin attempted 27 passes (excluding those called back by penalties) and, much to my surprise, only five came from outside the pocket. This can be viewed one of two ways.
The positive spin is that he actually operates in a system closer to an NFL-style offense than it appears.
The negative spin is that once the play breaks down, he typically tucks the ball and runs. There were only three or four plays where he kept his eyes downfield after being flushed out of the pocket, and on one of those plays he actually threw the ball after having already crossed the line of scrimmage.
However, it was clear that Art Briles and his staff are trying to prepare Griffin for the NFL by giving him experience in the pocket. By my count he was 9-10 on passes in the pocket and thrown at least 10 yards downfield.
Baylor’s offense isn’t complicated and he was rarely forced to throw into tight coverage in this game, but he clearly demonstrated an ability to stand in the pocket and play the roll of the traditional quarterback. He isn’t polished, but the ground work is in place which will allow him to further develop at the next level.
Take into consideration his potential as a pocket passer, his athleticism and his intangibles, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t come off the board in the 1st round – possibly as high as the top 10.