The NFL Combine is upon us in Indianapolis, which means the top college football players in the country are currently being measured, timed, questioned, poked, prodded and pinched by NFL scouts prior to the draft in late April.
The Indianapolis Colts hold the first pick in the draft, and it is already a sure thing they will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the best quarterback prospect we have seen in over a decade. Done deal, moving on.
The St. Louis Rams have the second overall pick, and immediately the intrigue picks up, because they drafted a quarterback first overall just two years ago (Sam Bradford) and need help in (many) other areas.
As of today we know that Baylor’s Heisman Winning quarterback Robert Griffin III will surely be the second player selected in the draft, and he will not be going to St. Louis, who is in a position of power and can hold an auction sending RGIII to the highest bidder.
We have heard buzz that many teams are interested in Griffin, including the Seahawks, Dolphins and Redskins. Of these three teams expect Washington to be the most motivated and in pursuing him, their owner Dan Snyder is aggressive and has deep pockets, the Redskins hold the sixth pick in the draft and will have no problem mortgaging their future to trade up for Griffin.
However there is one team in the mix that has more firepower than anybody, is desperate for a quarterback, and if they are motivated can get RGIII. The Cleveland Browns need to trade up for him, and I’ll explain why:
Robert Griffin III is a supreme talent who would be drafted first overall in almost any draft. I have him ranked far ahead of where I had Cam Newton ranked last year or Sam Bradford ranked two years ago, both guys who play his position and were selected first overall. Rarely does an Andrew Luck come along, and he is the only reason RGIII is not going to be the first overall pick.
It is tough to compare any quarterback to RGIII at this stage. Griffin is an effortless passer with a smooth throwing motion, who throws very accurately, even deep down the field. Usually when you watch tape of a quarterback prospect, you begin to pick them apart and find flaws in their game, but this does not happen with RGIII. The more tape you watch of him, the more impressed you are with him. Griffin looks to pass first, but also joined the track team and won the Big Ten in 400 meter hurdles, so he can kill the defense with his running ability. As a junior in high school he was the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. He placed 3rd in the country in the NCAAs in hurdles and even participated in the U.S. Olympic trials. He answered questions about his height by measuring 6’2 3/8 and weighing 223lbs (the exact same size as Donovan McNabb at the combine). Comparisons to Michael Vick are unfair, as Griffin does not look to run first, I compare him more to Randall Cunningham but a better passer or a faster and more explosive young Donovan McNabb, before he packed on 40lbs (and I’m being nice, Dovovan).
Griffin is also from a military background (both his parents are sergeants in the U.S. Army) so he is disciplined and an excellent leader. He even graduated with a 3.67 GPA in political science and is currently working towards his masters in communications. The kid is the total package.
What city needs him more than Cleveland? They lost Lebron James to Miami, only a local hero, who happens to be the best basketball player alive. The Indians stink. The Browns stink. This city needs a hero, a new face of sports, something to put this franchise back on the map. They need to go get Griffin.
Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, they have made the playoffs just once (2002). Now prepare to vomit. Since the Browns returned in 1999 here are their starting QBs - Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Charlie Frye, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia, Ken Dorsey, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy. Talk about a franchise that needs some stability at quarterback, that needs someone with star potential.
I hate to break it to you Cleveland, but nobody cares about the Browns right now that is not a fan of the team. How many Browns were starting for fantasy football teams last year? Zero. Who was looking forward to Browns highlights on sportscenter? Nobody. This is another reason the city of Cleveland desperately needs RGIII. Relevancy. By drafting Griffin, suddenly eyeballs are on your team, his highlights are in the Sportscenter Top Ten and people are talking. Cam Newton made the Carolina Panthers a must watch last season as a rookie QB, and Griffin would instantly do the same for the Browns. He will sell jerseys, draw eyeballs, make them relevant. How badly does the city of Cleveland need that?
The Browns have a hungry young coach, they have a very talented young defense, they have some building blocks on offense. The Steelers and the Ravens, who have dominated the divison for the last decade are both aging and in salary cap trouble. If the Browns make the smart move and make Robert Griffin III the face of the franchise, suddenly they could be the talk of the division, competing with the Bengals as the Steelers and Ravens rebuild.
The real beauty of this move is that the Browns really don’t have to give up much to get RGIII. The Browns can trump any Redskins offer by offering their TWO first round picks, and since the Rams would only have to move back two slots they could still grab a player they covet at fourth overall (the Redskins have the sixth pick, so the player the Rams are targeting could be gone. They would need to include their first next year as well as higher compensation mid-round picks to have any shot at beating the Browns offer). If I’m running the Browns, I’m offering my two first round picks, a mid rounder next year (4th) and a late round draft pick (6th or 7th) to make sure RGIII is in Cleveland next season. The Browns also have nine draft picks this year and would still have their first rounder next year, plus their second rounder this year to find Griffin some help at wideout.
The one hurdle that RGIII has to clear (track joke) to make this happen is current President Mike Holmgren, he is the one guy who can screw the city of Cleveland almost as bad as Lebron James. Holmgren caught lightning in a bottle while he was running the Seahawks, he took a backup quarterback from Green Bay named Matt Hasselbeck and turned him into an All-Pro who led them to the Super Bowl. Green Bay’s current backup quarterback, Matt Flynn is a restricted free agent this spring, and Holmgren is already enamored with him. Cleveland fans, please, don’t let Holmgren make this mistake. We have limited tape of Flynn, and yes, he has looked good in relief of MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but he could be another Kevin Kolb waiting to happen. I hope for the Browns sake, at Matt Flynn’s too, he does the smart thing and joins his former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin in Miami where he has been named head coach of the Dolphins.
Browns fans, you can find quarterbacks like Matt Flynn, hell the Packers found him in the seventh and final round of the 2008 draft.
Your team only has a shot to land an athlete of Robert Griffin III’s caliber once every fifteen years, and maybe longer, so you cannot let this opportunity go to waste. RGIII has the ability to draw the nation’s eyeballs and put them on Cleveland for the first time since Lebron left. Kids on the subway in Manhattan will be wearing Browns jerseys for the first time since…maybe ever. He’ll be in national advertising campaigns, leading off Sportscenter, the Browns will be relevant. He can change the culture of the city, he can become the face of the city, he can revitalize the city of Cleveland. Start buying up billboards now, be vocal about it, do not let this opportunity pass you by as a fan base. You may not get another shot.
RGIII to CLE