Robert Griffin III vs Oklahoma tape review

This was a typical performance from the 2011 version of Robert Griffin III – big plays downfield, a dramatic finish and further evidence of star potential. We’ve said it many times before, but his development from year to year at Baylor is quite phenomenal. In my first mock draft of the year I put him among the top ten picks (#8 Miami) and he could go even higher still.

Even so, I’m still trying to work just how good his deep ball really is. Yes, Griffin has completed a large number of downfield passes for big touchdowns. The Bears, somehow, keep exploiting defenses with the sheer quality of deep speed within their group of receivers. There may not be a faster core of athletes in college football and Kendall Wright in particular will light up the combine next year. More often than not Griffin is throwing into a huge window because of the separation and speed of his targets. Check out the plays at 0:06, 3:08 and 6:18 and tell me those are difficult throws for any quarterback with above average arm strength. The pass at 6:08 was inaccurate and should’ve hit the wide out for another touchdown. There have been instances of just flat out missing a wide open downfield pass at times this season, but you offset that with a number of good plays too.

It’s not that Griffin III is inaccurate in that sense, but there are a lot of examples where he’s throwing to wide open receivers that maybe overplay is deep ball. The pass at 2:28 is over thrown into double coverage – technically he’s plaing it safe putting it in an area where most likely nobody will get it, but perhaps his reciever with elite downfield speed will make an incredible play? In the NFL, if you take away the easier wide open throws are we going to see more of these over thrown ‘no turnover’ passes rather than big downfield completions, as Griffin compensates for not having speed advantages downfield?

Just as you’re starting to wonder whether Griffin’s downfield passing ability is slightly overrated, you see a pass like the one at 4:48. That is just about as accurate as you can get throwing downfield, into a tight window with double coverage. It’s perfection and should’ve been caught for one of the touchdowns of the year. That isn’t just a top-10 draft pick delivery, it’s a first overall pick bomb that very few current NFL quarterbacks are capable of. The pass at 7:17 is a further example of a difficult throw with the necessary pace to find a receiver for a big play.

There are other examples of similar quality too. The pass at 2:42 shows good awareness to sense the pressure and he adjusts his angle to throw a quick strike to his receiver. This is where Griffin’s release and arm strength may be most important, because it enables him to make a quick completion in a difficult situation. Once Wright receives the ball in space, he’s able to make a huge play but it all starts with Griffin getting the ball to his playmaker. At 4:27 he flicks his wrists and delivers a rocket spiral to the sideline for a first down.

For arguments sake we have to point out the negatives. The throws at 1:29 and 5:04 flash inaccuracy and the passes at 1:40 and 8:30 are bad decisions, the second of which should’ve ended in a turnover. Some people have complained about the change in his throwing angle in certain situation. Considering it’s usually part of an improvisation to complete a pass rather than a bad habit he’s developed, I think that’s a little harsh. Most of the time his release point is good enough for the next level, it’s his footwork that requires the most work.

We know about the athleticism and ability to move around in the pocket to avoid pressure while keeping his eyes firmly downfield. We see great examples of this at 6:32, 6:40, 7:02 and 10:09. The other well known feature of Griffin’s play is intelligence, which really shines at 8:23 to deal with a difficult snap and throw the ball back to the LOS in order to avoid a big loss and an intentional grounding flag. That’s an under rated play.

But really this game will always be remembered for one play, and one play only. This is Griffin’s highlight, the thing people will always come back to when discussing his time at Baylor. With the game heading to over time at 38-38 and with 17 seconds remaining he creates space by moving to the left and then throws across his body to deliver a pass of such accuracy, incredible touch and unmatched athleticism it deserves to win any game. Fast forward to 10:34 and watch that play a few times, because it’s what will make Griffin a high draft pick next April. I’m still not sure how he finds that receiver at the back of the end zone, especially considering his body position to throw and the decent coverage. Scouts, coaches and GM’s will replay that many times between January and April.

On a side note, how under rated is Kendall Wright? Deep speed, good hands and playmaking qualities that will improve any NFL offense. He’s fourth in college football for receiving yards with 1281 and has ten touchdowns. That’s more yards than Justin Blackmon. I have Wright going to Cleveland in my first mock draft with the 19th overall pick, but he could easily go earlier than that. He could be another Mike Wallace.

Many thanks to JMPasq for supplying us with the tape


  1. Kip Earlywine

    I think I’m also on the bandwagon for the “Griffin deserves to be a top 10 pick” cause.

    I do wonder though, will the considerable knocks against him (mechanics, footwork, spread offense, inflated numbers) keep him from going that high? Jake Locker wasn’t polished, but he had a better throwing motion and better footwork, not to mention he’s built like a tank, runs fast, and played in a pro-style offense. Yet even with all those things in his favor, many believed he was fortunate to end up a top 10 pick.

    I’m straining to think of a quarterback like Griffin going in the top 10 before. Newton and Vick were much more polished, and better athletes, IMO.

    Which is weird, because I really do feel deep down that Griffin is worthy of a top 10 selection. Maybe its because of the rapid improvements he’s made, or the fact that he would fit our offense like a dream.

  2. Jarhead

    See Kip, I HOPE that scouts don’t believe he is a top ten pick. Because if he were able to naturally find himself available when we are drafting, it would be an early christmas gift. I believe he will have a substantial impact on any team he plays for, especially with the right coaching and game plan. With his accuracy and above average intelligence, I can envision him running our offense at a very high efficiency. I sincerely hope that he is available when we are drafting, because we wouldn’t have to give up any other selections to nab him. That would just be icing on the cake

  3. Cody

    This might be crazy, but I would actually prefer Griffin to Barkley. I feel he would be cheaper to acquire, and really fit our offense. He just has that big play capability to him every time he has the ball.

  4. Alex

    Griffin seems like a better fit for what Pete Carroll wants out of a PG QB. He may actually be the best fit, but at the same time, I have Barkley in mind because you know what you’re getting from him..


  5. tom page

    On paper RG III has to be a perfect fit for our team, and Coach Carroll’s approach. It is hard to get a good sense of arm strength from watching this tape, but it seems like he has a plus arm. Smart, fast, intelligent, and a competitor, its hard to find to many warts at this point. There have been some recent rumors that Griffin is considering staying in school and working on his law degree. Seeing RG III in a Seahawk uniform would be a dream come true.

  6. Tom

    I’m in the RG3 camp and have been for weeks. I like his all around game more than Barkley and believe he has more NFL upside.

    RG3 also likes the bubble screens and some of the 9 route fades that Barkley is becoming famous for, but RG3 has a better arm and will throw more anticipatory stick throws into the middle of the field which has been proven to be pretty absent from Barkley’s game. See the Colorado and U.W. game video and writeup details for corroboration.

    Based on what I’ve seen from Barkley’s game vs below avg college secondaries Matt projects as a #12 to #16 NFL QB or slightly above NFL average and definitely not worth moving up in the draft to grab. Matt will be a good conservative QB but nothing screams “greatness” from anything I’ve seen. Technically sound with nice intangibles.

    I really hope RG3 slides to our draft position and would fit the Hawks perfectly and we haven’t seen the best from RG3, yet either.

  7. Rob

    The bubble screen point on Barkley is becoming a bit repetitive, Tom. You asked for a breakdown of Barkley which we’ve supplied this week. Aside from never throwing a screen pass again, I’m not sure what he can do to allow us to move beyond that and talk about what a fantastic technical passer he is of great skill. That performance on the road vs Oregon was masterful.

  8. David

    Hey Rob I was wondering if its possible for you to get some Frank Alexander game tape? and maybe make some scouting notes on him.

    I would love to have him on our team, i think he’s either a 2nd round or a 3rd round prospect.

    We need some young pass rush and Id love to see him in a Hawks Uni.


  9. Rob

    Hey David,

    As requested, here’s a post I made about Frank Alexander earlier in the season. It includes game tape:

  10. South Seahawk

    Nice write up.

    RG3 to me seems like Keith Price on steroids, and i LOVE it! The accuracy, escapability, football savvy, and leadership are exactly what I want out of my quarterback and I think RG3 has it all.

  11. Tom

    Rob, I was asking for you to breakdown the barkley games vs Colorado and U.W. that I detailed on pretty much a throw by throw basis. It was quiet because the performances weren’t all that impressive.

    I just said that RG3 throws the same bubble screen and 9 route fades as Barkley. I think the USC receivers do a nice job of catching jump balls and some underthrown like the TD to Lee where he has to wait on it.

    It would be sweet if you ever broke down a below avg Barkley game and didn’t just wait for his better performances. Oh well.

  12. Rob

    It’s not a case of waiting for better performances. I work to a schedule like most people and breaking down a crucial win over Oregon takes precedence over a blow out vs Colorado. For what it’s worth, I would write a very positive review of Barkley’s display in that game too. The Washington game wasn’t a brilliant display, but then they ran all over UW and never really needed Barley to get out of second gear. NFL teams won’t be spending too much time lingering on the Washington game in the new year, they’ll look at the Oregon tape a lot more. I just think you’re in danger of beeing seen to be trying too hard to argue the negative sides.

  13. Colin

    What I would like to know Tom is why you look into the games where Barkley has performed decent or average with such scrutiny, only to dismiss his excellent performances as a result of playing “below average college secondaries”.

  14. Cody

    Hey Rob, how close are Matt Barkley and Andrew Luck? I just know as a Duck fan, Andrew Luck was disappointing. He seemed indecisive and panicked all day, leading to a couple interceptions and a fumble. But Matt Barkley shredded the same Ducks at Oregon, and didn’t seem to be able to make a mistake. I know that one has much better receivers than the other, but that can only say so much right?

  15. Rob

    Hey Cody – for me they are very close. I wrote this piece in August saying as much and actually questioned whether Barkley was better. You look at the two performances against Oregon and it doesn’t sound so ridiculous any more:

  16. PatrickH

    I am watching the Baylor vs Texas Tech game. RG3 is out with a concussion after being hit in the head during a scramble. Before he was out, he was pretty much unstopable throwing and running.

    RG3 should declare for the draft and not stay in school for another year. The way Baylor is using him in their spread offense they are exposing him and there is high risk for injury. He can be injured in the NFL of course, but at least he will be paid.

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