Where Does RGIII Rank Among NFL QBs?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Two different articles have very different opinions on RGIII's outlook in the NFL.

Two articles on QB rankings have been published this week, and the opinions on Robert Griffin III are a little different in each of them.  First up is an article published on NFL.com and written by Chris Wesseling. He breaks down the 2014 QBs into 9 categories from Alone at the Top(Aaron Rodgers) to Impact Rookies(Johnny Manziel).  Which category does Wesserling put RGIII in?  He lumps Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick into the New Wave category with Griffin and here is his reasoning:

New wave: Russell WilsonCam NewtonColin KaepernickRobert Griffin III

Like an early-career Roethlisberger, Wilson is bolstered by his defense and running game. TheSuper Bowl victory came just two weeks after questions swirled around a Seahawksaerial attack that had been ailing since early December. Wilson deserves credit, though, for overcoming a porous offensive line and shaky play from his wide receivers. ... Newton made important strides toward mastering the nuances of the position such as pre-snap recognition, going through his progressions and remaining poised in key situations. His accuracy still comes and goes due to shoddy footwork.

Kaepernick struggles in the same areas in which Newton improved last season. He's inaccurate under pressure and doesn't go through his reads. In his defense, he spent the majority of the season staring down wide receivers failing to get open. That will change with Stevie Johnson and a healthy Michael Crabtree, joining Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin. ... Change happens quickly in the NFL.  RGIII would have fronted this group at the end of the 2012 season. I fully expect him to take home Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Comeback Player of the Year is a pretty realistic expectation for Giffin if he can rebound to 2012 form another year removed from his ACL surgery, with better offensive weapons, and a coach that he can trust.  Before his injury, there would be no question that he belongs in this group of young guns. Now for the opposing viewpoint of how Griffin will do going forward in his career. E$PN IN$IDER also ranked every NFL QB going into the 2014 season, and the consensus on RGIII was not as rosy.

I asked 26 league insiders to grade every projected starting quarterback on a 1-5 scale, with "one" reserved for the best and "five" for the worst. Eight general managers, two former GMs, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive participated, attacking the project with gusto almost across the board.

The result of the polling is a composite ranking of all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks, and an understanding of how some of the league's most important evaluators separate the best from the rest at the position. With their input, we were able to compile an average rating of each QB, to rank them in a 1-32 pecking order, and to divide the starters into general tiers. I've passed along insights from voters when applicable.

Griffin ended up being ranked 19th and tied with Andy Dalton in the 3rd tier of QBs.  Some of the QBs that were higher than him: Alex Smith, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco.  And some of the QBs that were ranked lower than him: Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, and Ryan Tannehill, and it really starts to drop off after that.

T-19. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (3.00 average rating)

Only five of the evaluators who cast ballots for Griffin placed him in the second tier. Fifteen placed him in the third tier. Five put him in the fourth. And when I spoke with a mix of players -- four defensive backs, two linebackers and two QBs -- they gave him a 4.1 grade on average. I decided against including the players' grades in the overall results because they tended to be exceedingly low. One GM put Griffin in the second tier despite some reservations about Griffin's personality. The veteran QBs I consulted separately crushed Griffin in that area. "He does not take any blame," one of them said. A head coach placed Griffin in the fourth tier and said, "I just don't think he can play in the pocket."

Health and durability are key variables. "Pre-injury and with [Mike] Shanahan and all the things they did [in 2012], I would put him in that two category with Wilson and Kaepernick," a defensive coordinator said. "If he is healthy, he adds a scary dimension because the kid can run and he is accurate enough, but post-injury, I don't know."

There are the concerns with his durability, his responsibility/leadership, and the influence on opinions from what the team was able to accomplish in 2012 with Mike Shanahan in charge.  We have heard these things before.  The durability concern is obviously the biggest factor that will affect his career.  Griffin suffered a concussion and his 2nd ACL tear in his rookie year.  He has a risky playing style that seems to always have him taking big hits, and he also played behind a shaky O-Line while not being as mobile as usual last season.  The hits add up, and if Griffin wants to last for a decade and live up to his potential, he will have to take advice from veterans like London Fletcher.

"He has the ability, but what’s Robert’s problem is he’s usually the best athlete on the football field," Fletcher said. "And he had to learn, coming into the National Football League, everybody can run on defense. D-linemen can run, linebackers can run, safeties can run. And when they get a hold of you, they have bad intentions. So he has to learn to be more like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and even Cam Newton. Slide more, or run out of bounds. Don’t take those big hits."

Fletcher also touched on Griffin's leadership which is questioned by the insiders from this article.

"I think the biggest concern will be him embracing that leadership role in terms of having to be the total team leader, and sometimes having to be the bad guy," Fletcher said. "You know, it’s a different dynamic when you have to be the leader. Sometimes you have to say something to maybe upset [someone] or ruffle a few feathers. And that’s one of the things he’s going to have to balance."

But Fletcher still insists that Griffin is a hard worker, and not the diva that has been portrayed in the media since he entered the league.

"That’s not true. He’s not a diva," Fletcher said. "He’s a hard worker, he’s extremely talented, he wants to be the best. I saw that guy rehab three times a day last year. We were both going through rehab situations, I had surgery myself, and he spent so much time in there. He wasn’t out doing all the diva [stuff], the commercials and all the things you saw. Perception in this case is not reality."

Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan came up with a scheme in 2012 that combined the Shanahan traditional Zone Blocking scheme with the Pistol and Read Option to have a successful rookie year.  This also stunted Griffin's development as a pocket passer, as the Shanahan's like to cut the field in half, and didn't allow the QB to set protections as Mark Bullock explains here:

This is something Jay Gruden must address. The Shanahan regime left most of the protection setting to the center, not allowing Griffin much flexibility to change things at the line of scrimmage. While Gruden had his center heavily involved in Cincinnati, he also gave quarterback Andy Dalton the freedom to change the protection, and even the play, at the line of scrimmage if he saw fit.

We won't know the full effect of what going from Mike/Kyle Shanahan to Jay Gruden/Sean McVay will have on Robert Griffin's game until a few seasons have passed.  Griffin, along with Gruden, have been working to make him a better pocket passer, while keeping the danger of his legs in the gameplan.  The durability and maturity/leadership questions might never go away, but will hopefully not be as loud after this season.  The question that everyone wants to know the answer to this season, is which portrayal of RGIII is more accurate: the rising young star who hit a bump in his career path, or the ego driven player who can't play in the pocket and needs to run to succeed?

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