The Indianapolis Colts have the top pick in the Draft. Could they be making a Ryan Leaf - Peyton…
10 Reasons Why RG3 Is Not The Top Dog
From last May until December, there was little debate who the top quarterback prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft was. Andrew Luck was the apple of every team's eye, and chants/twitter hash-tags/street signs gladly displayed "Suck for Luck" in hopes of their team getting that first pick.
But now, since Griffin has become a mixture of a Cam Newton hyped athlete with a media darling, it has become a debate as to which path the Colts should take. To me, the answer is easy: pick Andrew Luck. Here's why.
1. Coaching Around Him
I'll first say that Art Briles of Baylor is a heck of a coach, and his offense combined with he and his staff's development of Robert Griffin has been remarkable. But Andrew Luck has had the pleasure and rare benefit of having a former NFL offensive coach in Greg Roman and former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Jim Harbaugh showing him the ropes as a quarterback. His knowledge of the game based purely on the experience in working with those two now very successful NFL coaches gives him a leg up on most quarterbacks coming out of college ever.
2. Pro Style-Scheme
Coming out of college, they're are obvious benefits to hailing from a Pro Style offense. For one, it gives the quarterback that instant confidence of consistently utilizing both the drop back and the shotgun formations to his advantage. Also, it gives a better understanding to how each position on the field is used, where as the spread based offense, in which Griffin mostly played in, is more about match-ups and limiting responsibilities.
3. Better NFL Built Body Type
This may seem like a small aspect to evaluating a quarterback, but being able to take a hit without a consistent risk of injury has become a valuable asset for a team looking at quarterbacks. We've seen how Sam Bradford and Christian Ponder being "injury-prone" in college has translated to consistent NFL injuries. While neither Luck nor Griffin are considered "injury-prone", Griffin is a bit more fragilely built, and based on his style of play, he'll be taking a lot more hits as a scramble-heavy quarterback, especially early on.
4. Mental Preparedness
Based on all I've heard from Griffin and people around the program, I have no question about his work ethic, devotion to the film room, and he wanting to improve himself. It's one thing to want to develop based on the film room and understanding scheme. But Andrew Luck has a much better understanding of now only how to improve himself, but how defenses are planning on attacking him based on his experience and football IQ. It's rare to see a prospect like Luck who as soon as he gets into the league, he has "coach on the field" capability.
5. Pre-Snap Ability
One of Griffin's biggest progressions this year was his ability to initially come off the snap and realize where he should go with the ball on a fairly consistent basis. While it's an important skill set, it's not nearly as impressive as Andrew Luck. Luck had the responsibility to go to the line of scrimmage with three plays in one formation, and pick the play that best fit the defensive alignment. I'd wager that some current NFL quarterbacks would struggle with that. That's a skill set and a defensive recognition ability that Robert Griffin likely will never be able to attain at the level Luck has, and is crucial for being able to consistently pick apart defenses from the pocket.
6. Consistent Mechanics/Footwork
It's obvious that Robert Griffin will need fine tuning in his game-action mechanics and footwork. His arm slot in his release isn't consistent on all throws, his feet in the pocket get too wide and unbalanced, and he struggles to reset his feet properly under pressure. Luck isn't perfect mechanically and does have a tendency to sling the ball without proper mechanics if he anticipates his second read too quickly, and he doesn't always use his legs to drive the ball down the field. With Luck, however, his mechanics are consistent and easily coachable, while Griffin's at times are a bit erratic and will take a near overhaul in his footwork for him to develop sound in-pocket ability as well as downfield passing outside the pocket without running.
7. Read Progression Confidence
Along with his pre-snap ability, Griffin developed more second and even third read concepts into his game, which has turned him into more than just an athlete, high velocity passer into a quarterback who can make some NFL reads. However, my main concern with Griffin is that he doesn't have the confidence to consistently release the ball on his second reads, and tends to either be delayed or hesitates long enough for the opening to be gone. That hesitation is an issue with many quarterbacks that have struggled early in the NFL. As for Luck, he has a great feel for how the play is developing, shifts his eyes very well across the field to the second and third reads, and anticipates the routes very well with consistently well timed balls.
8. Decisiveness as a Passer
Again, going back to that second read release, Griffin's hesitation and his lack of decisiveness will continue to be an issue in the NFL. In the pocket, he struggles to trust that not only the second read receiver's route will be where he envisions, but also seems to not have a great grasp for how the defense is reacting to the routes after that initial read. Outside the pocket, he does sling the ball well, but often it's not the correct read when he does deliver downfield. As for Luck, he has complete faith in his pre-snap reads and anticipates routes so well. Generally, his interceptions or poorly timed passes were due to poor routes by the receiver, unexpected/right-place-right-time reactions by defenders, or just poorly released balls, all of which are hard to correct and not a major issue as a passer.
9. Poise, Confidence in the Pocket
As many respected evaluators outside of the NFL as well as NFL team personnel will agree, being a successful quarterback starts from the pocket. In short, Griffin struggles to pick teams apart in the pocket, and after the initial read, Griffin looks consistently flustered and either uses poor footwork and mechanics, or tries to escape the pocket and make a play with his feet. While that brings excitement and maybe some big plays, it's not a consistent way to win the NFL. Luck stands tall in the pocket, keeping fundamental mechanics and footwork, and doesn't rely on escaping the pocket, though he is able to with his under-rated athleticism.
10. Touch Between Levels
This may be the most indicative characteristic of initial and, without developmental time, long term success of an NFL quarterback, especially in long term, playoff hopes. Quarterbacks in the NFL need to not only be able to read the levels of a defense (first level is the defensive line, second is the linebackers and short-zoning corners, third is the safeties or deep-zoning corners) but also be able to place the ball in this areas. Griffin, like many young, developing quarterbacks, try to rely on arm strength or anticipation of openings too much, something more athletic linebackers and more creative defensive coordinators will take advantage of in the NFL (see Mark Sanchez's abilities). Luck has displayed an elite combination of anticipation of the defense and arm strength control in between these levels, and can both throw around and above man coverage as well as between and overtop-underneath these levels consistently.
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at Scout.com.
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director of Scouting of Optimum Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He has been scouting college football for eight years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last four years. Eric is also a member of the FWAA.
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