As training camp quickly closes in, one star has so far outshone all others in this year’s draft class: Robert Griffin III.
He has been praised as an outstanding person who happens to be a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and No. 2 overall draft pick. If that sounds familiar, it’s because a year earlier, a phenom by the name of Cam Newton was in the same position.
Newton, who went on to have a rookie year for the ages, was intensely scrutinized before he quieted even his fiercest critics. His success is a bar by which first-year NFL QBs will be measured for years to come. It just so happens that another stud--who has managed to attract more media coverage than Newton--may actually have a better rookie year soon.
Here are three reasons why it’s okay to compare RGIII to Cam Newton.
Both of these young men have electric personalities and a presence that can fill any space they are in. When I first saw Newton, I thought ‘Wow what an All-American looking kid. He looks like a Super Hero.’ So it’s only fitting that his end zone celebration involves pretending to pull his shirt apart and show that ‘S’ on his chest.
RGIII isn’t as physically imposing as Newton. He looks more like the All-American student working at a newspaper who happened to be bit by a spider. As normal and nerdy as Griffin may look in his street clothes, with that modesty and soft voice of his, you’d never know he was the same person in his uniform. He has crazy athletic skills. Yes, RGIII is a young neighborhood Spiderman.
Success starts with the way a person dresses and feels. Fitting the bill is important.
Second reason: Cam Newton came in under a rookie first year head coach and was able to have statistical success, even though his team, the Carolina Panthers, went 6-10. There are many reasons why RGIII can have a rookie season comparable to Newton’s. He has the benefit of being drafted by a coaching staff that is heading into its third season, which means the philosophies and strategies are now firmly in place. That will give Griffin a stable environment in which to grow up. And his head coach just happens to be future Hall of Famer Mike Shanahan, who has coached some of the finest QBs to ever play the game.
RGIII could have a runaway rookie of the year campaign, as Newton did. I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads this team to a winning season, which would best Newton’s rookie year.
Last but not least, establishing leadership as quickly as possible is vital for a QB. Much like Newton, Griffin has found a way to win over his veteran teammates, turning them into believers. When there is trust, success is sure to follow. Griffin, in his own unique way, continues to build trust with his coaches and teammates. I’m assuming treating him like a rookie will only apply when he takes vets out to dinner, not on the field.
These two amazing young men have lots in common. It’s quite the compliment for RGIII to be compared to a guy who had one of the greatest rookie years in NFL history.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be writing a similar post in December comparing their accomplishments.