In recent years, though, clubs haven’t been hesitant about rolling the dice with a QB straight off a college campus. Why? Because he’s a more finished product these days, generally. “Some of them run that spread offense in high school,” Parcells says, “then they go to college and run it again. They’ve got eight or nine years in the system before they even get to the pros.”
Nowadays, the question isn’t: Can the kid handle it? The question is: Does he have enough talent around him to be successful? Teams with high picks usually aren’t very good, and that can make it hard on a rookie quarterback. Troy Aikman, remember, went 0-11 in his first season in Dallas, and Peyton Manning started out 3-13 in Indy.
“It’d be nice for every rookie quarterback to be able to sit and relax and just watch and make sure that they’re groomed,” Kyle Shanahan says, “because it doesn’t matter who you are, when you’re a rookie quarterback it takes time.” If you look at the first-year QBs who’ve done well, he adds, “They either had a top-five defense or a real good running game [or, in the case of Roethlisberger, both]. They had to play well, but they were successful because they weren’t asked to do everything. If you ask a young guy to do everything, it’s a matter of time before it’s too much.”
The Redskins wouldn’t appear to have a top-five defense and, with so many injuries, the quality of their running game remains unknown. But they’re turning the offense over to Griffin, anyway, because, well, today’s rookie quarterbacks aren’t your father’s rookie quarterbacks. The jump to the pros isn’t nearly as Beamonesque for them as it was back in the day.
And even if it were, wasn’t RG3 a fairly accomplished hurdler?