Mayock: Robert Griffin is worth trading up for

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The possibility of Peyton Manning quarterbacking the Redskins is so tantalizing that it’s easy to forget his uncertain health is the most likely reason he’d even be available to the Redskins. As one informed source recently put it: “If the Colts release Peyton, it’s because they believe he’s damaged goods.” A Sports Illustrated report Wednesday detailing a previously unreported fourth surgical procedure on Manning’s neck serves as a sobering reminder.

The Redskins, of course, would like to acquire a quality franchise quarterback without expending draft pick(s) that could be used to fill other needs, but Manning’s health might spoil that fantasy.

Returning our attention to the quarterbacks in this year’s draft, then, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III is worth trading up for, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

“I love everything about the kid,” Mayock said Wednesday during a marathon teleconference about draft prospects before the scouting combine commences next week.

Mayock believes any team hoping to ensure an opportunity to select the Heisman Trophy winner must trade up to acquire the second-overall pick from St. Louis. He believes Cleveland’s trade ammunition of the fourth- and 22nd-overall picks should be enough for the Browns to move up to No. 2.

“If I was the Rams, I’d be ecstatic with that deal,” Mayock said.

The Redskins don’t have two first-round picks, so they would have to find other resources with which to entice the Rams. Judging from Mayock’s glowing evaluation of Griffin, though, it would be worth it.

“That’s a pretty exciting proposition to build your franchise around maybe the most exciting young player in this year’s draft,” he said. “There’s positives and negatives because there’s some downside to Griffin, also. …With Griffin, grab a hold of the seat of your pants and we’re going for a ride. And it might be really special, and on the other hand it might not. I think it’s intriguing.”

Mayock explained.

“The question I have is he doesn’t throw with anticipation, mostly because he doesn’t have to in that offense. There’s minimal footwork, and they spread it out so wide. He’s got some talented, gifted receivers.

“He’s got great touch and accuracy, medium and deep. He’s got arm strength. He’s got athletic ability. He’s tough. He takes hits, but he doesn’t anticipate throws. He waits until they develop and then throws them. A lot of college kids have it, so my only question with him is will he develop that?

“You won’t find that at the combine. I think where you’re going to find that is throughout the process when teams meet with this kid and they sit down and they put the tape on and they break it down with him and they talk football and they ask him what he sees or doesn’t see. I think that’s part of the process of learning how much a quarterback knows today and how quickly he picks up what you’re trying to teach him.”

Mayock raved about Griffin’s ability to maintain vision down the field against a pass rush, a trait Redskins coach Mike Shanahan highly prioritizes when evaluating quarterbacks.

“I didn’t expect to find that, to be honest with you, when I put the tape on,” Mayock said. “He’ll stay in and take hits. We all know he can run, also, and he will run. But he initially looks to get the football down the field, and I like that. His eyes are down the field. He’s conscious of the fact he can make big plays with his eyes and his arm as opposed to his legs. I think he already has that.”

Mayock called Griffin a more natural thrower of the ball than Cam Newton, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick. That’s high praise, considering the Redskins thought quite highly of Newton’s throwing ability coming out of Auburn.

“The bottom line for me is that he’s a playmaker,” Mayock said, unknowingly using the buzzword of the Redskins’ offseason. “That’s what this league is all about, especially at that position.”

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