- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2012

WACO, Texas — Art Briles panicked the first time he saw Robert Griffin III throw a football in person. It was that feeling you get when a secret you must keep is close to getting out.

Griffin’s reputation as a turbo-charged sprinter preceded him to the University of Houston’s football camp in the summer of 2007, but Briles, the Cougars’ head coach at the time, didn’t expect such quality passing form and arm strength. After Griffin threw his first ball that day, Briles hurried to Philip Montgomery, Houston’s co-offensive coordinator back then.

“We’ve got to hide him,” Briles told his lieutenant.

They did better than that. They convinced Griffin to commit to Houston. He eventually followed those two to Baylor, and the rest is Heisman history.

Almost five years later, as the Washington Redskins target Griffin with the No. 2 pick in the draft this month, Griffin’s evolved combination of speed and passing skill has talent evaluators, coaches and analysts expecting him to thrive under Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.

Mike likes to run the ball … and likes to move his quarterback,” said Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who served as Shanahan’s offensive coordinator in Denver for 11 seasons. “I don’t know that I’ve seen one move like this guy in a while. He’s very smart. This guy is going to fit perfect with what they want to do.”

The Redskins believe so, too.

“You like what you see on film,” Shanahan said. “As we all know, going from the collegiate level to the pro level, there’s always growing pains. Every quarterback goes through it, but he’s got such a big upside.”

It’s up to Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, then, to help Griffin reach that potential. Their scheme, replete with play-action passes and misdirection behind the line of scrimmage, suits Griffin’s skill set well.

Rex Grossman threw for 3,151 yards and 16 touchdowns in 13 starts last season despite his relative immobility and weaker arm. The upgrade Griffin’s athleticism represents answers the question of why the Redskins traded three first-round picks and this year’s second-rounder to position themselves to draft him.

“You look at the Redskins and then you look at the lineage of Mike Shanahan — where has his success been? John Elway, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler — movement guys, run-the-ball, stretch, play-action,” said Ron Jaworski, former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst. “Big, strong-armed guys that get the ball down the field. He sees the quarterback to be prototypical like an RG3.”

Just don’t call Griffin a “dual-threat” quarterback. He doesn’t take that as a compliment.

“I think I’ve proven that I’m throw-first, and then run if I need to,” he said at the NFL scouting combine in February.

That refined approach had Montgomery overflowing with pride following Baylor’s Pro Day last month. As Baylor’s offensive coordinator, he watched Griffin progress from an athletically gifted quarterback of a flawed team to an elite passer surrounded by a supporting cast capable of winning 10 games last season.

Griffin’s accuracy rate increased in each of his four seasons, rising from 59.9 percent as a freshman to 72.4 percent during his Heisman Trophy campaign.

Story Continues →