Above you’ll find game tape from Robert Griffin III’s most recent performance in a victory over SEC-bound Missouri. I’ll be breaking down his display in a larger piece tomorrow. I’m trying to get an angle on a definite draft grade for the Baylor quarterback and so far it’s proving difficult. He’s very much a wildcard prospect with a lot of upside and he’s developed greatly during his four years with the Bears. However, something keeps holding me back when it comes to committing to a high grade, even though he’s definitely an intriguing prospect.
Thanks again to JMPasq for supplying us with the tape.
ESPN draft-duo Mel Kiper and Todd McShay published their updated big boards today. I struggle to grasp the concept of these boards – what determines how far a player drops or rises? For example, in McShay’s first big board he described Matt Barkley as thus, “Barkley is a natural leader with a high football IQ and good short-to-intermediate accuracy and touch and a quick release and adequate arm strength to make all the NFL throws.” Such high praise warranted only the #22 overall position on his board, behind tweener’s like Melvin Ingram with no obvious role in the NFL.
Funnily enough, Ingram is no longer among McShay’s top-32 but Barkley is steadily climbing. Last week he was up to #18 and today he’s at #12. This is McShay’s justification, “He continues to rise in part because of his impressive consistency. The closer we get to the draft, the more quarterbacks start to rise, and Barkley has done nothing to hurt his stock. His tools aren’t elite, but he’s getting better at all the little things to get the most out of his ability.”
Let’s look at Landry Jones’ ranking and how that compares - he’s been as high as #3 but this week dropped to #5. “Jones just hasn’t been as consistent as you expect in recent weeks. His accuracy is good, but he continues to miss within the strike zone, and at this point he hasn’t locked down the No. 2 spot among quarterbacks.” I’m struggling to ‘get’ McShay’s approach here, because if Jones is struggling to lock down the #2 quarterback spot why is he still seven places ahead of Barkley? And if Barkley has been ‘closing in’ on overtaking Jones, why has he been wallowing in the late teens or early twenties until this week?
For me, Barkley is having another strong year where he’s not only made further developments as a true junior, but he’s also been incredibly consistent and productive. Jones – in my view at least - has shown very few qualities that make you believe he’s going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Even more confusing is the introduction of Ryan Tannehill to the board this week for the first time at #31 – fresh off easily his worst performance of the season against Oklahoma. Again, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the decision to add him now. McShay states, “A closer look at the tape shows improved instincts, which indicates he has plenty of potential given the right coaching, and all indications are he has the mental makeup to realize that potential. His ability to create when the play breaks down is also well above-average.” Yet the evidence suggests very much the opposite if you study the game on Saturday.
For example, what happened when his hot read was covered and Frank Alexander had offered moderate outside pressure from his strong side? Rather than move away from the pressure (which was being handled by the right tackle) to create further time for a throw (or a run, given how much space there was to the right side of the field) Tannehill instead dwelled too long on his intended target before switching to a second option late in the play and making a careless throw into double coverage for an interception and big return. In the second half he again reacted badly to moderate pressure forcing a throw to Jeff Fuller who hadn’t even completed his route and wasn’t facing the quarterback. The defensive back read Tannehill’s eyes and pre-empted the throw, easily picking it off. Two bad decisions, two bad turn overs and further evidence of a lack of poise and too often locking on to one target.
Tannehill has the athletic potential to extend plays and avoid pressure, but so far he’s not doing a good enough job of remaining composed and running through his progressions. It’s also equally baffling that Jeff Fuller remains on McShay’s board despite a poor overall year for Texas A&M. Needless to say, standout North Carolina prospect doesn’t make the cut on McShay or Mel Kiper’s big boards.
On a more positive note, it’s interesting to see Griffin III remain at #24 on Kiper’s list and both acknowledge the impact of Alabama’s Trent Richardson this season. Kudos must also go to Kiper for dropping Dre Kirkpatrick to #25 – a player whose reputation appears to have gained unrealistic momentum due to people’s desire to see tall, physical corners on their team.
Elsewhere I’d highly recommend checking out this analytical piece from Alex Brown for Optimum Scouting, breaking down four Big 12 quarterback prospects (Landry Jones, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden). Although I’ve written contrasting pieces on all four at various times this year, it’s always good to get a different take on things and Alex’s write-up is incredibly detailed and worthy of attention. Check it out. Here’s a taster on Robert Griffin III:
“Entering this season, I had trouble giving Robert Griffin III a 4th round grade. His lack of fluidity and feel inside the pocket, coupled with inconsistent ball placement on the deep fade, inability to progress from target to target in his reads, lack of confidence in his previously torn ACL from the season before, and his throwing mechanics as a whole, scared me to death as a talent evaluator. Griffin’s athletic prowess, impressive character and leadership made him a must draft player nonetheless, but I still had my doubts in his ability under center. Griffin wasted no time in winning me over as a believer, as he torched the TCU secondary in the season opening game.”
Jesse Bartolis also has an updated mock draft available for your viewing pleasure. The Seahawks pick fourth overall and choose Griffin III with Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley off the board.