NFL Draft Analysis: Six Reasons Robert Griffin III Will Be A Bust
by Robert Ferringo - 4/25/2012
Let me start out by saying that I like Robert Griffin III. I am not a hater and I don’t wish the man any ill will.
In fact, I bought in early on him leading Baylor and he singlehandedly made me plenty of money over the course of his career. More importantly, Griffin seems like a great dude. I don’t care about his funny socks or the Heisman. He was born in Japan, he came from a military family, he graduated high school early while also serving as class president, he is a decorated student and he’s working on his Masters Degree. I mean, from the outside the guy seems like the total package in the leadership and intangibles department.
Griffin is quite a talent and I will be pulling for him, personally. But as a professional NFL handicapper I absolutely have to be able to separate fact from fiction and to objectively break down players like Griffin. And let me say that I’m not gaga about Griffin’s pro prospects. Or, should I say, that I’m not as thrilled with his future in the NFL as the Washington Redskins and the mainstream media are leading into this weekend.
Griffin is all but assured of being the No. 2 overall pick this Thursday in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Redskins gave up a stunning three first round draft picks and a second round pick to move up just four slot and are all but guaranteed to take Griffin.
But Washington’s trade has the potential to go down as one of the worst in NFL draft history. I firmly believe that there have maybe been a half-dozen players in NFL history that would’ve been worth that many premium picks coming straight out of college. And there is absolutely no guarantee that Griffin will find his way onto that short list. In fact, the odds are pretty overwhelming that he will end up as a bust at worst or an underachiever at least. The trade was ridiculous and it has significantly raised the bar on what his expectation level will be as he enters the league.
There have been dozens of highly touted, can’t miss quarterback prospects that have fallen on their faces in the NFL. I’m not predicting, necessarily, that will happen to Griffin. But I’m also not bullish on him entering the league.
Here are six reasons why I think that Robert Griffin III could end up being a bust in the NFL:
1. Griffin is somewhat of a one-year wonder.
Heading into the 2011 college football season Robert Griffin was being projected as a wide receiver in the NFL. His athleticism was renowned in the Big 12. But he wasn’t on any NFL scouts’ radar and he wasn’t even considered much of a Heisman contender when the season started. Hey, scouts have been wrong before and Griffin wouldn’t be the first player to continue to develop through his four-year college career. But it would concern me that Griffin really came out of nowhere to become the consensus No. 2 overall pick.
2. Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks have been bums.
The jury is still out on Cam Newton. But the 2010 Heisman winner looks like a keeper and a potential franchise quarterback. He is a freak of nature, physically, however, and if he goes on to have an excellent NFL career he would be bucking a trend that goes back over quarter century. That history is working against Griffin.
Sam Bradford is not a bust yet. But Tim Tebow, Troy Smith, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer are the other Heisman quarterbacks from the last decade. Palmer has been the best of that feeble group but I don’t know how many people really envy his career. Going back further we’re looking at Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Charlie Ward, Gino Torretta, Ty Detmer, and Andre Ware as the other Heisman-winning quarterbacks to go to the NFL. That group has zero Pro Bowl appearances between the seven of them.
3. No one plays defense in the Big 12.
Griffin tore up the Big 12 this year. But the Big 12 was A) defensively challenged and B) way down compared to what we’ve seen the last few seasons. Texas was pathetic and Oklahoma had one of its worst defenses of the past decade. Overall, Baylor faced just one defense that finished the year in the Top 30 and just two in the Top 60. Defense is very much optional in college football these days – especially in the Big 12 – and I think that might have helped Griffin inflate his numbers a bit. With that in mind, do we really know how good this guy is since he didn’t have to face any top-tier college defenses?
4. He already has a knee surgery behind him.
Griffin is being drafted No. 2 overall because he is an explosive dual-threat athlete. However, he blew out his knee once already, tearing his ACL in 2009. Obviously injuries are nearly impossible to predict and it’s tough to call someone a “bust” if their career is derailed because they get hurt. However, given the nature of how he plays and the fact that he has already had a serious knee injury I think that the odds of Griffin’s career being sabotaged by injury are higher than a “normal” quarterback coming out.
5. He’s going to be expected to start right away.
The odds overwhelmingly favor rookie quarterbacks sitting on the bench and learning in their first season behind a veteran signal caller. The best quarterbacks in football – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, etc. – all either sat the bench completely or started for less than half a season their rookie seasons. Sure, there are outliers like Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. But for everyone one of those guys there are a bunch of Alex Smith’s, David Carr’s, Kyle Boller’s and Blaine Gabbert’s.
I firmly believe that a rookie quarterback should be on the bench just trying to figure out which end is up. They need to learn the system, mature physically and emotionally, and learn to process the strategic elements of the NFL. History favors quarterbacks who don’t make their 25th start until their third season. But I don’t think that Griffin will be given the option and if he develops bad habits early they could haunt him his entire career.
6. Kyle Shanahan and Daniel Snyder.
My feelings about Shanahan – that he’s an incompetent – are well documented. I feel like he is one of the worst in-game offensive coordinators in football and his work with Max Hall, Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman over the last two season isn’t exactly a highlight on his resume. I have zero confidence that he will be able to properly develop Griffin over the next several years.
Everyone’s feelings about Snyder – that he is one of the biggest douchebags not just in sports, but also on the planet – are well documented as well. Snyder doesn’t care about fielding a winning football team. At all. He just cares about his profit margins. So I am certain that he is going to be pulling Griffin in 1,000 different directions in order to maximize his earning potential for the franchise.
Washington has already been down this road before with a highly touted rookie quarterback that they paid a king’s ransom to acquire (they also gave up three picks to get Jason Campbell in 2005). So if these two idiots are the main “handlers” for Griffin and the two most responsible for guiding his future then I weep for what he has in store. And we’ll see him in Oakland in about five years.
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