Add Jon Gruden to the already extensive list of analysts who believe Robert Griffin III would fit perfectly into Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan’s system if Washington picks the Baylor quarterback in the NFL draft.
Gruden has spent time breaking down tape with Griffin and watching him throw as part of the former NFL coach’s “Gruden’s QB Camp” series on ESPN. He says the Heisman Trophy winner’s athleticism and mobility position him for success similar to what John Elway and Steve Young enjoyed.
“I think it’s real exciting for the Redskins because of Mike Shanahan’s expertise with mobile quarterbacks,” Gruden said during a teleconference Wednesday. “Some of the best tape that I’ve ever studied was Mike Shanahan and John Elway in Denver, back-to-back Super Bowl win teams. They took advantage of Elway’s mobility. A lot of people forget how extraordinary Elway was handing the ball off to Terrell Davis, and those bootlegs, those naked bootlegs off of those stretch plays was devastating.
“And what Mike did as an offensive coordinator with San Francisco with Steve Young – another mobile quarterback – those are some of the best offensive tape I’ve ever seen. I think when you get Robert Griffin, one of the most explosive quarterbacks to ever play the position, in a Mike Shanahan-type system, the possibilities are very exciting, I think, with Mike Shanahan’s imagination.”
When it comes to Griffin’s skill-set, Gruden has no question that the quarterback’s game will translate to the NFL. But early on, Gruden says there are some obstacles that Griffin will have to overcome.
“They have run-and-shoot principles in their offense at Baylor, and they don’t get into the huddle often, and if they do, I haven’t seen it,” Gruden said. “So, just getting in the huddle, getting used to calling the plays; you’re calling plays in a different way than you’re used to. It’s just an adjustment, just like it was for Cam Newton, but it didn’t hurt him. And obviously, getting used to the speed of the game, and learning the concepts. That’ll be the challenge, I think for Griff, more than it will for [Stanford’s Andrew] Luck, just because of the way they’ve played in the last three-four years of their careers.”
Griffin also must prove that his success in the Big 12 isn’t a mirage, as it seems to have been for some of the most recent NFL quarterbacks that conference has produced.
“I think the big question RGIII has to answer is, ‘Why haven’t any of the Big 12 quarterback really hit the lottery big in the NFL?’” Gruden said. “Blaine Gabbert, we’ll wait and see. Vince Young, hasn’t really sustained himself. Sam Bradford’s got to prove it, going into year 4. Colt McCoy. There’s a lot of Big 12 quarterbacks that have to step on the gas this year.”
But Gruden says he fully expects Griffin to reverse that trend.
Luck is regarded as the more NFL-ready quarterback, and is expected to go first overall to the Indianapolis Colts. Gruden also spent time with Luck, but when asked what separates the two quarterbacks, he says other than the experience Luck has in a pro-style offense, there isn’t much difference in their potential.
“I don’t know why we have to pick one or the other. It’s like strawberry or vanilla. You like both kinds, I guess you just have to pick one or the other; strawberry or vanilla,” Gruden said. “These two kids sat on the podium together at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and we all knew it was going to be Luck or Griffin. That’s how close it was. ... It’s the same way in this draft. The Redskins and the Colts are just real lucky, if you ask me. They’re looking for quarterbacks, and it just so happens that in this draft, there are two great, proven commodities at that position.
“Both of these guys have carried their football teams,” Gruden added. “Andrew Luck, look at Stanford before and post-Luck. Look at Baylor before Griffin and post-Griffin, what they have done, what their body of work is. Tremendous credit to these young guys.”
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