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Pro day leaves no doubt Griffin is ready

3/21/2012

In many ways, the pro day workout of Baylor QB Robert Griffin III was a formality. His game tape speaks for itself, and Griffin could have walked in, spiked the ball and walked out, and he still would have been a lock as the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

However, Griffin clearly took his preparations for the workout seriously, and he showed off a skill set and attitude that make it even more clear that he is ready for the NFL.

He participated in a scripted passing session that was slated to include 51 passes, but I counted four additional throws and only four of the passes he threw -- two drops, two missed throws -- hit the ground. Griffin's footwork was quick and impressive, and quarterback coach Terry Shea, who has also worked with the likes of Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman and Matthew Stafford, did a good job making sure it was a pro-style workout that included all the NFL throws (only three of which came from the shotgun).

Shea also mixed in ways to show off Griffin's foot quickness. There were the usual rollouts, and also checkdowns with a drop as an "Act 2 Move," which required Griffin to look to one target before resetting his feet and locating a secondary option. We also saw double moves such as dig-and-go routes, and all of that served to show how quickly Griffin can move his feet while also staying balanced and under control.

Two things stood out from a technical/mechanical standpoint. First, Griffin did a good job keeping his elbow up. I've seen on tape a tendency to drop to a three-quarters release at times, which for a quarterback of average height (6-foot-2&#8541) will lead to plenty of balls being batted down at the line of scrimmage in the NFL. He is also more consistent in terms of accuracy when his delivery remains over-the-top.

Secondly, Griffin's footwork was not only very quick, it was also consistent throughout the workout. It's clear he has been working hard in that area, and he was much more sturdy and confident in his lower body. Griffin did a nice job planting and driving off his back foot, and then transferring his weight from back to front.

As for the passes he threw, Griffin shined on the kind of NFL throws he did not make on tape as often as Andrew Luck and other top prospects from true pro-style offenses. After talking to Bears coach Art Briles, his staff and other scouts who have spent time around the program, it's apparent Griffin made more pro-style reads and progressions than some zone-read schemes require, but you don't see a lot of deep outs, comeback routes and other more difficult throws when you study tape of Griffin.

However, he has obviously spent time working on those throws. Griffin was a quarter-count late on a handful of those routes, but overall he showed understanding of the timing required and when to get the ball out. I was impressed with his velocity on comeback routes.

There was a streak in the middle of the workout when Griffin seemed to tire a bit, and that's when he was off. On throw No. 28 the ball fluttered on a high hook route off a seven-step drop, and on the next throw Griffin was late on a bench route. Throw 31 was a vertical go route off a five-step drop and he failed to get enough air under the ball, which caused the receiver to have to slow down and come back for the ball. Finally, throw 32 was a clear miss high and outside on a drag route, one of his worst throws of the day.

Griffin turned it around quickly on his 34th pass, though, a strong throw on a deep comeback off a seven-step drop. That seemed to fire him up and get his legs back under him, and Griffin finished strong.

From a big-picture standpoint, the most impressive part of the day was the clear indication that Griffin is truly working hard. He's not just out to impress people during the pre-draft process. He's doing everything he can to prepare for the expectations that come with being a high draft pick who will be expected to start from day one. Griffin's showing is reminiscent of Cam Newton's pro day a year ago. Newton needed more polish than Griffin, but you don't do what Newton did under George Whitfield's tutelage and Griffin under Shea's by watching tape and running 40-yard dashes.

What we saw from Newton and Griffin is a product of time, effort and coaching. That willingness to work had to impress the Washington Redskins brass in attendance -- owner Daniel Snyder, general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Mike Shanahan -- and make the Redskins even more sure Griffin will be their choice with the No. 2 overall pick.

Griffin was loose and scouts got a chuckle when one of his own rap songs came over the sound system as he warmed up, but he handled himself well. He knew this workout was not about his draft stock, but rather about showing he is preparing himself for the next level, and while he had some fun, Griffin also showed he has the hunger and drive to be the best quarterback possible.

Everyone I talked to gushed about what a special kid Griffin is, and seeing people light up with the talk about him only reinforces the feeling. He clearly gets it, and that work ethic and maturity make him more than worthy of the investment the Redskins will make in him.

Wright, others also make impressions

Baylor WR Kendall Wright had much more on the line than Griffin after posting a very pedestrian 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, a time that clearly did not match up with his playing speed on tape. There are times on tape when Wright does not pull away from defenders like you might expect, but he shows good overall explosiveness and makes plenty of plays in the open field.

He stood on the combine results that confirmed that explosiveness -- 38.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-1 broad jump, 4.18-second short shuttle -- and passed the test on the 40 with times anywhere from 4.43 to 4.49 according to five different NFL scouts I talked to. That is much closer to his tape and was clearly a relief for Wright, who ran much looser and told me he "just wasn't right" at the combine, where he appeared very tightly wound and seemed to be pressing.

I'm not sure Wright is in the best shape of his life, though. He appeared to have some extra padding in the midsection and was sucking wind at times, especially in the middle of the workout when he lacked the burst to run under a perfect pass on a dig-and-go route on Griffin's 25th throw of the afternoon. He also had a flat-out drop on another throw. However, he came out of a short break after that 25th throw with a spectacular one-handed catch and a couple of other nice plays on the ball. He also unleashed a 50-yard bomb on a throwback pass to Griffin as they had a little fun at the end of the workout.

All that is pretty much indicative of what you can expect from Wright. He's an explosive threat who's quicker than he is fast -- though his speed is above average -- and you can live with his inconsistency and drops because few other prospects have his big-play ability. Wright is competing with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd to be the second receiver off the board, though Floyd is a physical downfield presence while Wright is more of a slot receiver who can play outside if asked.

Either way, given his big-play potential and improved 40 time I don't see Wright getting past the Houston Texans at No. 26 overall.

Elsewhere, RB Terrance Ganaway has impressive size and reminds me a bit of a young Jerome Bettis in terms of his frame. Ganaway is thick everywhere but is in good shape and carries his weight well, and after he caught the ball well it will be interesting to see if his Day 3 stock gets a slight boost. DT Nick Jean-Baptiste is a massive two-gap defensive lineman, and while he wasn't invited to the combine Jean-Baptiste has a chance to get drafted based on his impressive size and solid workout.