This year’s draft features two of the best quarterback prospects the NFL has seen in years. I watched some game tape–not highlight reels set to rap music–actual tape of every play over a couple of games, and here’s what I saw.
Robert Griffin III
Pros: He sells the play-fake extremely well. Even knowing this tape was all of RGIII’s plays, I still thought he handed the ball off several times. He’s deadly accurate on deep throws down the field, and he has elite arm strength to rifle the ball into tight spaces on intermediate routes. He’s got great instincts throwing the ball, and he looks comfortable moving around in the pocket and reacting to pressure. His footwork maybe isn’t ideal, but he’s so quick, and he’s so accurate anyway, I don’t think it will be a problem.
Cons: He’s fast, but he doesn’t have a running back’s instincts to find space to run to. He takes more hits than you want to see a QB taking; he’s too quick to rush up the middle right into big defensive linemen. His college offense was designed to give him easier reads than he’ll be making in the NFL, and he was helped out quite a bit by a couple of very good wide receivers.
What does he have to learn? The subtlties of being an NFL passer, such as looking off defenders, and learning to make deeper reads. At Baylor it seemed like he never had to look past his 2nd option. In the NFL he’ll need to progress through 3 or 4 or even 5 options at times.
Overall, I think RGIII has everything it takes to be a star NFL passer. His pros are mostly in his passing game, and his cons mostly in his running game; a promising mix. He has the natural tools, he seems like he has the ability to learn, and Mike Shanahan is a great coach to have teaching him. I think he will be a good pro right from the start, and he can easily develop into the most exciting player in the league. It would have been nice if the Redskins lost a few more games last year and didn’t have to trade two first-round draft picks to get him, but great quarterbacks are hard to find, and he’ll be worth the price they paid.
Pros: He already looks like an NFL quarterback. He plays smart football in a pro-style offense that requires him to make complex reads, some plays looking for his 3rd or 4th option. He has all the arm strength you need. He’ll never throw as hard as some QBs, but he doesn’t need to. He’s got ideal footwork in the pocket. He’s accurate throwing on the run. Most of his mistakes seem to be from a lack of experience. He’s young, and will only get better.
Cons: He needs to get better. He put up almost identical statistics his last two years at Stanford; it’s hard to find something to complain about in back-to-back seasons completing 70% of his passes, but despite his high completion percentage, he could be more accurate. He looks flustered under pressure sometimes, and doesn’t have the raw instinct that RGIII has. He doesn’t dominate games the way RGIII does.
What does he have to learn? He’s great at reading coverage, but he needs experience reading where pressure is coming from, and how to deal with it. He needs to learn his limits, because he doesn’t have the elite arm strength to rifle the ball into tight coverages yet.
Overall, he’s the best prospect since Phillip Rivers or Peyton Manning himself. Common wisdom says he’s virtually a lock to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL sooner rather than later. The Colts “Luck”ed out when they stumbled into the opportunity to replace Manning with him. Then again, there’s another first-round QB who put up identical stats his last two years in college: Matt Leinart. Are these two games misleading, or am I the only person who thinks the Redskins got the best player in this draft?