Luck, Griffin III ooze charisma in combine press conferences

INDIANAPOLIS -- The first question was an easy one, and yet even in its simplicity, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III managed to eventually provide a masterful response.

"What kind of socks are you wearing?" asked a reporter, referencing a sock collection that became nationally exposed when Griffin rocked a pair of Superman socks at December's Heisman Trophy presentation.

"I've got Ninja Turtles on today," he said, lifting his pant leg to reveal the awesomeness.

When pressed on his sock hobby in front of a packed room Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Griffin went on: "It started my sophomore year in high school. I wasn't one that really matched all that well. That's why the socks usually never match anything I'm wearing.

"It's to show I'm comfortable with who I am, I'm comfortable in my own skin. The socks are just a representation of that."

By the time both Griffin and Andrew Luck had concluded their eagerly anticipated press conferences on Friday, they'd delivered doses of the personalities that we've all come to expect from two highly touted prospects. Each, in their own special way, showed why two NFL cities will easily embrace their charm as much as their football skills.

"Robert's a great quarterback, a great competitor, a great guy," Luck said. "I don't get motivation by competing against him for something. I don't think it's one player versus another by any means.

"It's important to be No. 1. Absolutely. But not at the expense of another person."

If the most disappointing aspect of each was their admissions that they've decided not to throw at the combine (they'll partake in all other testing), then both scored an A+ in terms of their overall ability to handle a high-pressure situation. At one point, longtime veteran reporters were debating if there'd ever been a more impressive press conference in this era of combine scrutiny than the one delivered by Griffin III. He was charming. He was funny. He was respectful.

A few key points from each press conference:

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» Griffin joked about chatter that he wasn't actually 6-foot-2, as listed on Baylor's roster. Some wondered whether he was instead closer to an even 6-foot. On Friday, he measured in at 6-2 3/8. Griffin said with a smile: "We didn't lie about my height."

"In high school I was 6-4, 200 pounds," he said. "So when I got to college, I shrunk an inch and gained weight. I was 6-2, 220. I guess they thought I just shrunk some more. I was 6-foot and 190 now. But it's official: I'm 6-2 3/8 and 223."

» Luck said he has had very friendly but limited interaction with Peyton Manning over the last year: "I did talk to him after I made my decision to come back to school last year for advice because obviously he went through a very similar situation. I've got a couple of texts through the season, but other than that, not much."

» Griffin said he'd be honored to play for the Cleveland Browns, who have been discussed as a possible suitor with the fourth pick: "(The Browns) just need that motivation, they need that inspiration. They've got the coaches in place to be successful."

» Luck still has a little work left before finishing his degree: "I have two classes left in the spring that I'll go back starting April 1st and finish up and graduate in June."

» On the biggest misconception about him, Griffin said: "It's just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback. You're run-first, throw-second. I think I've proven I'm throw-first, then run if I need to."

» Luck, who was clean shaven Friday, was slightly disappointed by the day's last question: " 'Is my beard making a comeback?' That's the last question?! Who knows?"

» Griffin also got a chuckle when a reporter asked very simply, "Who are you?"

"That sounds like a paper from my English class," Griffin replied.

It might sound petty that a press conference can actually be an important factor as these two players go under the microscope of every NFL general manager and coach at this week's combine. But both players are sure to become the face of a franchise -- and both players proved to organizations that they are more than capable of handling the show. And oh, by the way, they're also pretty good quarterbacks.

While it remains a very good possibility that Luck will become the Indianapolis Colts' No. 1 overall pick -- leaving the St. Louis Rams with plenty of leverage at No. 2 to trade their pick to a QB-hungry team -- it isn't yet a certainty. As a result, both players were asked Friday about how they'd feel backing up Manning in Indianapolis if the Colts decided to keep Manning. And both players made it clear they wouldn't create any issues if it went down that way.

"If I had the opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course you're going to take advantage of it," Luck said. "Absolutely."

Griffin said he'd "hold the clipboard with pride" if that were the case.

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Luck's acceptance of that potential scenario seems to be the most important. Given his stature in this draft, it's possible he could pull a power play (see: Eli Manning) if he didn't like the landscape in Indianapolis. At least based on his message Friday, it doesn't appear at this point that will be the case.

"Peyton was my hero growing up," Luck said. "He was my football hero. That's who I modeled myself after in high school, middle school, whatever it was. You never truly replace a guy like that. And who knows what happens? So many different things can happen. I'm not thinking about it too much right now."

Surely, in the coming months, we will gain more clarity on the futures of Manning, Luck and Griffin. Wherever the latter two wind up, at least based on the charisma they displayed Friday, both players seem perfectly prepared to handle the situation with grace.

Griffin will even alter his sock choice, if a team so desires.

"I've worn Hello Kitty a couple times, but I'm not wearing them right now," Griffin said. "If they don't want me to wear Hello Kitty, I won't do it."

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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