On the eve of the NFL draft, Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan acknowledged it’s a virtual certainty that the team will use the draft’s second overall selection Thursday night to choose Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“If you guys are right,” Shanahan said to reporters at Redskins Park during his pre-draft news conference Wednesday, “it sounds like we’ll be picking Robert Griffin…. It sounds like it. It sounds like Indy is committed, and we’re very excited.”
The Indianapolis Colts announced Tuesday that they will use the top overall pick on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Redskins officials had said since trading for the second selection in March that they would take Griffin or Luck, whichever quarterback wasn’t taken by the Colts. But Shanahan stopped just short Wednesday of declaring the choice of Griffin by the Redskins a done deal.
“He’s got all the attributes that you look for in a quarterback,” Shanahan said. “I’ll be very happy if he’s on our football team. Nothing is 100 percent yet so I’ve got to say 99.9.”
Shanahan also said that Griffin must earn the title of franchise quarterback with his play.
“I think when you talk about a franchise quarterback, obviously that guy has got to go out there and do it,” Shanahan said. “And just one guy doesn’t do it. You’ve got to have the supporting cast. I think we’ve made some strides in the last couple years in putting that type of team together. When you do bring a quarterback in, hopefully you have some weapons and give him a chance to be successful.
“We all know it doesn’t happen overnight. There are some growing pains that will go with that position. But the better your defense is, the better your offense may be, obviously the less pressure you have to put on that quarterback. In talking about the franchise quarterback, you’re looking at a guy that really has all the physical and mental attributes that you’re looking for in a quarterback. Now he’s got to go out and do it on the field.”
Shanahan reiterated that Griffin will become the team’s starter when he demonstrates he’s ready, whether that is at the outset of his rookie season or sometime later. Shanahan expressed similar sentiments last month at the annual league meeting.
The Redskins re-signed quarterback Rex Grossman in free agency and could begin the season with him as the starter if Shanahan determines that Griffin isn’t prepared.
“You just don’t want to throw a guy in there right away until he feels comfortable,” Shanahan said. “There’s a growing process. It doesn’t happen right away. Obviously you give up a couple firsts and a second, you want that guy to get in there as quick as possible. But you want to do it at the right time and make sure he’s ready to have the best chance to help you win.”
The Redskins traded their first-round pick, a second-rounder and first-rounders next year and in 2014 for the Rams’ selection and the right to draft Griffin
Shanahan said he thinks his personality will mesh just fine with Griffin’s. He called Griffin “a natural leader” and said: “Just because he’s got a lot of charisma and I don’t, don’t make fun of me.”
The Redskins also will be willing to make any adjustments to their offensive system that they consider necessary to take advantage of Griffin’s skills, Shanahan said.
“You’ve got to look at who your quarterback is, what your supporting cast is and give that quarterback the best chance to win,” Shanahan said.