Robert Griffin The Third, #1 Dynasty Rookie Pick
May 20, 2012 | Chet
I am currently picking #1 in a dynasty rookie draft so I’ve gone back and forth on who to pick first way too many times. Trent Richardson is who I really want for this season. The chances of RG III having close to the same value as Richardson in year one are slim. T Rich will be the starting, every down running back on a team that may rely on him throughout the season. Quality, every-down backs are hard to come by when you need to start 2-3 RBs a game compared to starting just one quarterback a game. I actually need T-Rich fairly badly if I want to have any shot this year, but I am going to take a longer view to this question.
So in light of looking toward the future, Griffin is my guy. He has the ability to surpass both Richardson and Luck in the long run. And not just surpass this draft class, but everyone. His upside has more ups than anyone’s side than I believe there has ever been. Let’s look at a few reasons.
First of all, he’s a quarterback. It’s cliché to say this is a passing league, but some clichés, like this one, are true. Do you really believe the 10 quarterbacks who threw for 4,000 yards and the 14 who threw for 20+ touchdowns are that much better than quarterbacks from the 80’s who, um, didn’t do that? No, the game has changed through rule changes that help wide receivers get open and quarterbacks from having their heads forcibly removed from their bodies. These tweaks to the rules have been giving coaches the ability to no longer rely on running backs to get short yardage or keep defenses honest. Now with the right quarterback, offenses sometimes only need to run the ball to give themselves a breather. So that explains the Tom Bradys and Drew Breesuses of the world, but now we also see a different kind of quarterback emerging. What we used to see as the college option quarterback, or the run-first/pass second quarterback, who many in the NFL looked down on as being unable to run a pro-style offense. It’s true that NFL defenses made/make it difficult for a run first quarterback, but the hybrid quarterback we are starting to see now is one who doesn’t tip his hand anymore. I would put players like Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger somewhere on the spectrum slide scale of the new NFL hybrid QB.
One of the most important abilities these hybrid QBs have is being able to throw on the run or at least being able to escape the rush and then set themselves for a strong accurate throw. Of course many quarterbacks have had this skill in the past, but the rules that have allowed passing games to flourish have allowed QBs with this skill-set to truly gain the upper hand. With late hits drawing huge penalties and fines and defensive backs unable to manhandle receivers like in the past, the amount of time a team has to get to the quarterback is not long. If you have a quarterback with the ability to escape the rush and then either hit his man down field or run for a first down or even throw the ball away to save field position on a consistent basis, you have a gold mine.
The move toward a more hybrid quarterback has always been wrought with controversy. Often there was racial bias or just coaches and other decision makers living in the past. Either way, it wasn’t until Michael Vick truly broke out in 2010 that people saw what a hybrid QB could really do. He was unstoppable. I don’t have to rehash the season for you fake football players because it most likely helped you win or lose that year. His speed, arm strength, vision and a rededication to the game, all came together in Andy Reid‘s wide open offense. And like Reid, Shanahan is firmly entrenched in the West Coast Offense. The West Coast offense is built for adaptation which is why it has been able to stay strong. Of course at some point they might have to rename the thing but in 2010 Reid was able to use Vick’s ability and versatility to open up the whole offense, which includes opening up running lanes for LeSean McCoy and giving speedster Desean Jackson time to get open deep. Shanahan should be able to use Griffin in a similar way, but Griffin is ahead of where Vick was coming out of college in many ways, mostly in maturity and dedication, but also in vision and accuracy.
Shanahan has been able to work with mobile quarterbacks in the past, including Hall of Famers Steve Young and John Elway. Both were able to do amazing things in the west coast offense, but were still considered pass first pocket QBs who could do special things when the plays broke down. With players like Vick, Newton and now Griffin, a defense will have too much to contend with when these QBs are clicking on all cylinders. Offensive plays can be disguised much easier and defenses, if read correctly, will have little to retaliate with.
The NFL is of course a copy cat league and Vick and Newton have given teams permission to draft a player with Griffin’s extraordinary skill set without the sports world blowing up with indignation that his amazing “athletic ability” will not transfer into the NFL. But often the problem was, and is, that the NFL could not evolve to their abilities. Their offensive personnel and schemes were bogged down and around the pocket passer. That, thankfully is changing, and at just the right time for a player like RG III.
Robert Griffin The Third runs a 4.4 forty, can throw the ball to the moon and has what seems to be the right attitude to learn and succeed. He’s cocky no doubt, as I think any of us with his ability would be to a degree, but he also has the drive to be the best. Right now there is a ton of data to look at to show us just how good he was in college. His numbers are stellar to say the least as well as his tape. There is of course room for improvement and saying that Andrew Luck is more NFL ready is probably true, but the real question is, is the NFL ready for RG III?
Mike Shanahan who is about as animated as a stump is already gushing over Griffin, “The NFL is not used to a quarterback with his type of speed and his type of throwing ability. I think we can do some things that people haven’t done. He can make any throw on the field . . . He fits into our system perfectly because we like to run play-action, quarterback keeps, bootlegs. With his speed, he can get on the edge and do things most quarterbacks can’t do.”
So, all that is to say I’m taking him #1 in my dynasty rookie draft. His ceiling is too high to see right now. It’s much higher than Trent Richardson’s who is a running back coming into a league that doesn’t value running backs and unfortunately for good reason. They aren’t needed like they once were and their careers don’t last as long as quarterback’s due to wear and tear. The case against Luck is harder to make. He is set up to succeed with the Colts building their team around him just like they did for Manning. His floor is higher and his ceiling lower, which makes him the safer pick, but unfortunately he’s just not RG III!
I’m going for all the marbles with Griffin. It could bite me in the ass. He is going to need to take many steps forward to realize his potential. But unlike the past, the NFL looks like it is ready to let him take those steps. Will he be the fantasy juggernaut that Cam Newton was coming out of the gate? Most likely not, but I believe he can surpass even Cam in the long run. So if you are crazy farmer it’s time to put all your eggs into RG III’s basket!