Entering this season, I had trouble giving Robert Griffin III a 4th round grade. His lack of fluidity and feel inside the pocket, coupled with inconsistent ball placement on the deep fade, inability to progress from target to target in his reads, lack of confidence in his previously torn ACL from the season before, and his throwing mechanics as a whole, scared me to death as a talent evaluator. Griffin’s athletic prowess, impressive character and leadership made him a must draft player nonetheless, but I still had my doubts in his ability under center.
Now that the season is officially come to a close, many doubts of mine have been put to rest. It truly is rare to see a player of this athletic ability and success, to devote himself in such a way as to completely alter his draft grade and develop into an elite passer.
Graduated high school early, in order to begin school at Baylor, awarded an athletic scholarship as a 17 year old in both football and track. 3-sport athlete in high school (football, basketball, and track), Griffin was the 110 and 400 meter hurdles champion on the AAU track and field circuit. The Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year and number one rated 110 and 400 meter hurdler in the country, Robert Griffin III went on to finish first in the 400 meter hurdles at the Big 12 championship and NCAA Midwest region championship. He participated in the Olympic trials and lasted until the semi-finals.
Earning his undergraduate degree in Political science in just 3 years, Robert Griffin III is currently enrolled in and set to graduate from Baylor's Communication graduate program in May of 2012. Became the nation's youngest starting quarterback at age 18 as a true freshman, and has started all but one game played. Showed tremendous growth from year to year, improving his mechanics, feel, accuracy, and football acumen. Team captain who earned the trust of his teammates and coaching staff. Robert Griffin III epitomizes student-athlete excellence.
Based on his multi-sport skill set and impressive success as a track hurdler, there is no questioning Robert Griffin III's athletic ability. Griffin has the ideal hurdler body, long arms, long legs, and lean muscle tone. Possesses elite foot speed and acceleration to top speed, ability to really run away from defenders when breaking the pocket.
He has great hips and flexibility to bend and avoid defenders, also running with nice, low pad level and forward lean. Has thin waistline and small base to work off of, and as noted earlier, is leanly built. Quick twitch athlete that has impressive burst and explosion as a runner. Fairly developed strength-wise in the hamstrings, thighs, and glute area and has not struggled with any pulled muscles as a result.
He lacks bulk, particularly in the midsection; takes too many big hits as a runner, and is still learning how to protect himself. Can create 2nd lives as a passer, consistently buying extra time as a passer and keeping plays alive with his feet. Shows impressive balance and coordination as a passer with bodies around him, altering his throwing arm slot, feet, and shoulders in order to take advantage of open passing windows. Inhibits elite NFL athleticism but currently lacks ideal build for the position.
Passing - Ability
Griffin maintains exceptional arm talent, and has shown dramatic improvements in his passing skills, specifically the deep ball. The emergence of Griffin's deep ball throwing skills, has come about through his improved mechanics, a rapid and consistent delivery, and sound footwork.
He has incredible chemistry and timing with his receivers, along with precise touch and loft on deep throws. Able to flick his wrist and drop in bucket throws with relative ease. Places the football perfectly on smash-deep fade route concepts, leading his receiver away from the defender, towards the sideline, and in stride. Displays loft and touch not only on the outside, but also over the deep third of the field; able to place passes underneath the safeties and over the top of the 2nd level.
Griffin has shown the ability to keep a tight spiral on short throws and utilize soft touch on drags/cross patterns. When pressured, Griffin throws harder and with more velocity, leading to inconsistent placement on short crossing patterns. Griffin keeps his eyes downfield, locating targets after breaking the pocket. Confident and balanced when rolling to either side, Griffin wastes no movement in his throw motion.
Passing - Technique
Mechanically, Griffin’s throwing motion is quick, rapid, yet elongated and upright. Normally throws with an over the top delivery, but will alter throwing arm slot based upon available throwing windows. When scanning the field for secondary targets, Griffin has the tendency to only secure the ball with his throwing hand.
He has improved in ability to locate secondary receivers, but must learn when to throw the ball away. Resets his hips, shoulders, and feet very quickly to make catch and throw passes outside the numbers. The most noticeable area of improvement in Griffin's game, is his footwork and lower half mechanics. In previous years, Griffin would sit in the pocket flat-footed, was unable to avoid pressure and reset his feet properly within the pocket.
This season, he is light on his toes, quickly progresses from his primary to secondary options while staying balanced, and shows the ability to buy time within the pocket. Lacks experience from under center, but has been asked to carry out 5 step play-action pass drops from under center; although fluidity and comfort level are not evident, Griffin's natural length and suddenness as a player allow him to get good depth to his drop steps.
Passing - Instincts
Very mature and intellectual person who excels in the film room, in addition to the classroom. Has consistently made strides in his mental approach to the game, looking more and more like a pure pocket passer. While injured with a torn ACL as a sophomore, Griffin devoted himself to becoming the best quarterback he could be. Griffin continually improved his decision-making, pre snap and coverage reads, as well as his overall feel for the game.
He shows much more confidence and composure within the pocket, sliding side to side to avoid pressure, keep eyes downfield to target, and reset his feet and hips to the throw. Much more poised this season than in previous years, Griffin willingly stands in under pressure, will "look down the barrel" and take big hits. Mechanics no longer break down under pressure, and he has displayed improved situational awareness; knowing when to scramble, and when to buy time as a passer.
He's active with his eyes, reacting decisively to pressure and sticking with the route development. Rarely, if ever, will he throw blindly across his body; smart decision maker with the football who held a 5:1 TD:INT ratio during his 4-yr career at Baylor.
Summary of Report
Griffin has taken huge strides forward in his ability to progress thru multiple pass options, slide in and out of the pocket, and stay light on his toes throughout his pass drop. Picture perfect ball placement, touch, and loft on the deep ball can be attributed to his relentless work ethic, commitment to success, and exceptional arm talent. Griffin no longer stands flat-footed in the pocket, but is up on his toes and very active with his progression. Quick, decisive, and cautious decision maker who rarely throws the ball up for grabs. Has improved upon his completion percentage every season at Baylor, and maintained a 67% completion percentage on 1,159 pass attempts.
Successfully transformed himself from an athlete at the quarterback position, into a quarterback that happens to be extremely athletic. It must be noted that a majority of Griffin's big passing plays came off of an inverted veer, play action that gave a zone-read feel; Griffin played exclusively out of shotgun and pistol formations, rarely taking snaps from under center.
The instances which Griffin took the snap from center usually involved 3rd and short, goal-line, or red-zone situations; I have not seen a straight 5 step pass drop from Griffin when under center. Throws made from under center included quick hitting bubble patterns or a quick tight end dump pass in the red zone; I have seen multiple snaps where Griffin carried out a play action fake and was asked to take a 5 step pass drop. Though he needs time and reps from under center, Griffin's work ethic, character, athletic ability, and arm talent make him one of the most unique, dynamic, and exciting prospects in recent NFL draft memory.