Andrew Luck is presumed to be the No. 1 overall pick after being hailed by scouts across the league as the most pro-ready prospect to enter the NFL draft since Peyton Manning. However, the prospect generating the most buzz heading into the NFL Scouting Combine is Baylor's Robert Griffin III.
The Heisman Trophy winner emerged as one of the top players in college football after leading the Bears to a 10-3 record and an Alamo Bowl victory in spectacular fashion. Griffin posted gaudy numbers (4,293 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions) while directing an explosive spread offense that maximized his talents as a dual-threat playmaker. His combination of speed and quickness is unrivaled at the position in this draft, but he is much more than a run-first quarterback.
Griffin displays the arm strength to be an effective passer in a conventional system, and his impressive football IQ is reflected in his poise and calm demeanor within the pocket. He never appears flustered or rattled by pressure, and his ability to keep his eyes down the field while eluding the rush suggests his first instinct is to defeat the defense with his arm.
In looking at his flaws, I would point out his unrefined mechanics and footwork. He routinely launches passes while falling away from the throw, and his failure to fully incorporate his lower body into his throwing affects accuracy. Although his natural arm strength allows him to get away with the sloppiness at times, he will have a tough time stringing together pinpoint throws with outstanding velocity without better footwork at the next level.
When making comparisons for Griffin, it is easy to point to Michael Vick as the closest projection, but RG3 is a more advanced passer at this stage of his career, and his understanding of the game places him above the former No. 1 pick in my mind.
Here are five franchises that could seriously consider Griffin with their first pick:
As a former defensive coordinator, new Colts coach Chuck Pagano certainly understands the difficulties of defending a dual-threat quarterback adept at beating opponents with his feet or arm. The improvisational work outside the pocket routinely results in game-changing plays, extending drives or producing points. New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians successfully tutored one the game's best improvisational playmakers in Ben Roethlisberger during his time in Pittsburgh, and he certainly could mold RG3 into a deadly weapon as a pro.
Pat Shurmur found out how difficult it is to win games consistently without a franchise quarterback during his first season in Cleveland. He would welcome the opportunity to groom an athletic talent like RG3 in a West Coast system that places a premium on accuracy and athleticism from the quarterback. His ability to extend plays with his feet would put defenders in a quandary when covering all of the options in the route, leading to more explosive plays from a Browns offense that struggled generating points in 2011.
The Redskins have been searching for a legitimate franchise quarterback for the past 20 years. Griffin has all of the tools to blossom into a star in Mike Shanahan's movement-based system, which routinely puts quarterbacks on the edge with a run-pass option on bootlegs. In addition, RG3 has the big arm to push the ball deep on vertical throws executed off run-action fakes in the pocket. If the Redskins are hoping to compete in an NFC East that features three franchise quarterbacks (Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Vick), they must find a way to select RG3 in the draft.
Joe Philbin takes over a Dolphins offense that has desperately searched for a quarterback since Dan Marino hung up his cleats. While much of the conversation in Miami has focused on the pursuit of free agent Matt Flynn, the prospect of getting a young, athletic passer with immense potential is an intriguing possibility for the franchise. With Reggie Bush finally discovering his game as a runner and Brandon Marshall continuing to thrive as a No. 1 receiver, the addition of RG3 could be enough to push the Dolphins over the top.
Pete Carroll has the Seahawks on the verge of turning the corner, but he needs a dynamic playmaker at quarterback to maximize his young team's potential. RG3 would represent a significant upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson, and give Seattle a passer with the big arm to take advantage of the untapped offensive firepower at the skill positions. The NFC West is shaping up to be one of the league's most competitive divisions, so acquiring a big-time quarterback has to be at the top of Seattle's list of priorities.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.