What makes Baylor’s Robert Griffin III a great NFL draft prospect? Let’s get inside the game of the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback to see what traits he brings to the next level and what areas need improvement.
As part of the pre-draft process, all draft-eligible players are scouted a minimum of three games and graded on seven traits. The traits for a quarterback are shown below, with Griffin’s grade for each and his overall score—an average of the seven traits.
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 220lbs 40 Time: 4.49 (projected)
Film Study: Throwing accurately on the run is a skill few quarterbacks have. Griffin has it. Few quarterbacks have the balance, flexibility or strength to make this throw the way Griffin does. Watch the ball to see how he keeps it at throwing-level while running. When RG3 throws, the ball doesn’t arc, but travels on a line to the target, who is able to catch the ball without extending. This is perfection.
Overall: While Griffin’s accuracy is very good, especially for a mobile quarterback, I would like to see him more consistent on both out routes and up the seam. You will see Griffin slightly overthrow players if you spend time watching his film, something that can be helped in the NFL by faster receivers, but more patience in his throwing motion and more consistency in his drop steps and follow through will help Griffin become more accurate.
What I like to see is accuracy to all levels, and RG3 has that. His throw to beat Oklahoma showed the deep accuracy to attack defenses, and his throw here shows the intermediate accuracy and timing to pick apart a zone or press bail coverage while in the pocket or on the move.
Arm Strength: 10
Film Study: An underrated characteristic of RG3 is his arm strength. Too many look at the Baylor offense and assume Griffin is throwing check downs and bubble screens. Not so. On this play, which is now infamous, Griffin delivers a strike across the field, under pressure, and does so accurately to a receiver with two defenders in the area.
Two things to note on this play, just on the throw alone. The ball traveled 42 yards in the air and did so on a line. The football wasn’t thrown up for the receiver to jump and catch, this was a straight throw to the end zone. That’s impressive. Second, the accuracy with which this ball is delivered is unreal. Watch this play over and over again if you need proof that RG3 can succeed in the NFL.
Overall: Among Griffin’s best traits is his ability to throw the football to all levels of the field with velocity. Griffin has a live arm and can attack deep coverage. He has an easy, smooth throwing motion that shows little effort, but the ball jumps out of his hands with surprising speed and tight spirals. Much like Cam Newton’s rookie season, Griffin could be an immediate impact if asked to stretch the field and exploit deep coverage.
Film Study: This play is a great example of how Griffin’s mobility translates to the NFL. Too often we see college quarterbacks simply outrun the defense, which isn’t always valid once they are facing faster defenders in the NFL. What I look for is the presence of mind to feel the rush, the vision to find the opening and then the speed to pick up available yards. That’s what RG3 does here.
Overall: A former track star, Griffin is an electric and dangerous runner. He has the speed and agility to jump out of the pocket and pick up yards, or can be used on designed runs. Throws well on the move and has the strength to throw across his body. Is able to start-and-stop on the move to set up for deep throws, but also has the arm strength to throw deep routes on the move without setting up.
Decision Making: 7
Film Study: The film shows a rare mistake by Griffin, who gets frustrated with the lack of protection and starts to work away from the line of scrimmage instead of throwing the ball away. As RG3 moves to the next level he will have to learn when to throw the ball away, and also to never work away from the line of scrimmage to avoid a pass rush.
Overall: Does a fair amount of pre-snap recognition based on Baylor game film study. Griffin, unlike many college quarterbacks, does not take direction from the sideline and is tasked with reading the defense.
Field Vision: 9
Film Study: Two plays to look at here. The first play shows Baylor with two wide receivers at the bottom of the screen. What’s important to note here is how quickly Griffin recognizes the coverage and that he makes the right read in getting the football to Kendall Wright, who sat down against the off coverage from Rice. This is the same read Tom Brady makes when deciding if he should hit Wes Welker or Rob Gronkowski.
The second play gives RG3 a run/pass option, and again he makes the right decision by pulling two defenders toward him (being a run threat will do this in the NFL too) and then throwing the ball behind the defenders who pursued him. This is easy pitch-and-catch, but shows the threat that RG3 will be against defenses.
Overall: Most mobile quarterbacks struggle to maintain field vision as they lock in on defenders coming at them instead of keeping their eyes up-field and toward the coverage. Griffin does a great job keeping his eyes up, and continuing to read the defense even as he moves around and out of the pocket. Griffin doesn’t have the experience of Andrew Luck at reading a defense and making checks at the line, but he does have a very high IQ and a high football IQ, two things that will quickly enable him to learn and adapt at the NFL level.
Film Study: Here we see a rear-view shot of Griffin throwing under pressure. Note that while his release point drops to below his shoulder, the ball comes out with good velocity and with good arc. The key here is that Griffin’s foot work is solid. He sees the pressure coming, but sets his feet and doesn’t throw off his back foot, which would be what most young quarterbacks do in this situation as they shy away from the big hit.
Overall: Griffin has a quick delivery and does not waste time or motion in delivering the ball. While his motion can change, generally seen as a negative, there is no change in accuracy or velocity from various release points. Does not have classic over-the-top motion, but the end result is the same.
Has played both under center and in shotgun sets and has the feet to quickly transition if asked to move to a system that requires him to come under center. Will need coached up to time his drop steps.
Pocket Presence: 9
Film Study: On this play we see a breakdown by the Baylor offensive line, but RG3 stands tall in the pocket and delivers the football without backing down, and without making the mistake of backing into his end-zone to evade the pass rush coming off both edges and up the middle of the field. This is a trait that is very hard to teach, and can be the difference between Cam Newton-like success and Blaine Gabbert-like failure.
Overall: Griffin does need work to become more consistent in his pocket presence. At the college level he has the speed to quickly jump outside the pocket and pick up yards, or out-run the defenders to gain a passing window. That will not be the case in the NFL. If RG3 is to make a successful transition to the next level, learning to be a pocket passer first and runner second will be his biggest hurdle.
Robert Griffin has made a fast climb up my pre-draft rankings, starting the season as No. 33 overall and ending the regular season as the No. 2 overall player in the country. Griffin answered doubts about his deep accuracy, his mechanics and his ability to lead.
No player in college football or in the 2012 NFL draft class has the ability to take over a game like Griffin. His threat as a run/pass option and his exceptional arm strength and deep accuracy make him as exciting a prospect as I can remember scouting.