Add Jon Gruden to the list of NFL observers who believe the Redskins would get a stellar franchise quarterback if they draft Robert Griffin III later this month.
The former Super Bowl champion coach and current ESPN analyst shared his thoughts on RG3 during a teleconference Wednesday. Gruden spent time interviewing and coaching Griffin as part of ESPN’s QB Camp Series with draft prospects.
“I don’t have any concerns about this kid,” Gruden said of RG3. “What you see is what you get – on the camera, off the camera. He’s a special young man. He comes from great stock. Both his parents are military people. He’s been brought up the right way. He has sustained the right stuff with all of his success.
“He helped put the Baylor Bears on the map of college football. I don’t remember Baylor ever beating Oklahoma. I don’t ever remember Baylor back-to-back years beating Texas. I don’t remember Baylor ever having a Heisman Trophy winner either. I think he can do the same thing for the Redskins.
“He can revive the Redskins as long as he stays healthy and he buys in and really takes to this new system and he continues to work. But this is a special young man whether the camera is on or off.”
Gruden believes Griffin will succeed under Redskins coach Mike Shanahan because of Shanahan’s track record with mobile quarterbacks.
“Some of the best tape that I’ve ever studied was Mike Shanahan and John Elway in Denver, Gruden said. “The back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams, they took advantage of John Elway’s mobility. A lot of people forget just how extraordinary Elway was handing the ball off to Terrell Davis, and those naked bootlegs off of those stretch plays were devastating.
“What Mike did in San Francisco with Steve Young, another mobile quarterback, those were as good of offensive tapes as 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.”
Griffin’s rise to NFL stardom won’t necessarily be smooth, though. As with all rookies, Griffin must make some critical adjustments at the pro level.
“They have run-and-shoot principles in their pass offense at Baylor,” Gruden said. “They don’t get in the huddle very often. If they do, I haven’t seen it. So just getting in the huddle, getting used to the nomenclature, calling plays in a different setting is going to be 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 a lot of new concepts.
“That will be more, I think, challenging for Griff than it is for [Stanford quarterback Andrew] Luck just because of the way they’ve played in the last three or four years of their career.”