Three of A Kind

The NFL Season is officially HERE!!! The Hall of Fame game (the 1st PreSeason Game) was played last night, Week 1 of the Regular Season doesn’t seem nearly as far away as it did in July. There are many headlines going into this season, many of them warranted, and several that are an utter waste of time.

Keeping the latter in mind, let’s discuss the media driven “Cam vs RG3” topic or the highly illogical school of thought that Cam’s Rookie year should be a benchmark for Robert’s rookie season. A record-setting year for a Rookie in ANY sport should be valued at JUST that, a record-setting year. Unless a player is on the cusp of breaking said record, there is no reason to use that stellar achievement as a “benchmark” for others. Cam is a different player than Robert as Robert is different from Cam. Why not appreciate both Robert & Cam for their individual differences versus pitting them against each other when they’re not even in the same division or same draft class?

The most intriguing part of the Robert or Cam, Robert vs Cam, or however one chooses to pit them against each other is the absence of Mr. Andrew Luck. Andrew has been considered by many as one of the if not the “best quarterback prospect since Manning(Peyton) or Elway.” That type of praise isn’t thrown around lightly, keeping  in mind why is Cam’s Rookie Season not a benchmark for Andrew rather than Robert(the Number 2 Overall Pick) seeing as Cam & Andrew were both Number 1 Overall picks?

Andrew Luck has been lauded for his ability to be a complete Quarterback, where both Cam & Robert are praised more for what they can do with their legs rather than what they can do with their arms. The question one must ask is HOW is it that both Cam & Robert beat out a talent such as Luck for the Heisman Trophy? Does that speak nothing of their overall talent rather than just their legs?? Lastly, Luck was much more than a pocket QB as he used his legs for more than just buying time as well yet most only speak of his arm and mind.  All of these kids have immense talent,yet  none of them cracked the top 50 in ESPN’s 150 HighSchool players in the country. Two were ranked in the top 10 as far as the Quaterback Position, but neither was in the top 5. All three have worked incredibly hard to make the most to develop skills outside of their God-given ability. There is now way to bring up one of these players with out the other two, or two of them while leaving out the other.

Luck came out of the Class of 2008 along with Robert Griffin the Third. Luck coming out of High School was ranked the 61st best player in the country according to ESPN. As far as the Quarterback position goes, Andrew was rated the 7th best QB in the Nation. Here’s an excerpt of the scouting report on Luck by an anonymous ESPN Scout: “He really manages the offense well, and his poise and decision-making is really solid. He is a good play-action quarterback with solid ball-handling skills. He has a little better mobility than you might think, and while he is not a classic scrambler, he can run out of trouble at times and does a nice job of rolling out and throwing on the run. He does not have elite arm strength, but it is more than adequate and shows quality RPMs in the short-to-intermediate passing game.” An 82 was the scout grade given to Mr. Luck, he ended up choosing Stanford but his other choices were Northwestern, Purdue, and Rice. Heading into the draft, there were few weaknesses in Luck’s game. The one thing that keeps coming up is that he doesn’t have elite arm strength, he is also more mobile than people give him credit for. In college as well as heading into the draft, scouts and analysts made it seem as if Luck was an average athlete. That is far from the truth, while he isn’t an “elite” level athlete he is right outside of that bunch. At the combine Luck went on to run a 4.67 40 yard dash, jumped 36 inches in the vertical jump, had a broad jump of 124 (the combine BEST), and a 6.80 in the 3-Cone drill. The 40 is used to test a players straight line speed, both the vertical and broad jump give you an idea of how explosive an athlete the player is, and the 3 cone drill tests their agility. Read those numbers again and tell me if those are the numbers of a typical “pocket” QB, better yet let’s compare those numbers with a known mobile QB in Tim Tebow. Tebow ran a 4.72 40 yard dash, jumped 38.5 in the vertical, broad jumped 115, and had a 3-Cone of 6.66. Looking at those numbers, Tebow’s numbers aren’t exactly knocking Luck’s out of the water. Luck finished his collegiate career at Stanford as a Two time Heisman Trophy Runner up while posting numbers like this:  2011- 3517 yards, 37 TDs, 10 INTs, QB Rating of 169.7 2010- 3338 yards, 32 TDs, 8 INTs, QB Rating of 170.2

Cam Newton wasn’t always a household name, not many were aware of him outside of Atlanta back in 2007. Newton was ranked the 58th best player in the country and the 9th best QB according to the ESPN 150, his scout grade was an 81. It is a well-known fact that Cam Newton is a special, special, SPECIAL athlete. Like LeBron James, Cam is a rare physical specimen blessed with a unique blend of athleticism. Analysts, media, and fans all agreed that Cam was an elite level athlete but not a QB. Here’s an excerpt from Cam’s Scouting report from ESPN 150: ” He shows good touch on underneath throws and the ability to change velocities and crank it up. Shows good zip on the deep out route and gets adequate RPMs on his downfield throws. Can drive the ball downfield and shows good touch on the deep ball. He throws catchable passes and has a feel for leading his receivers. Extremely accurate in the short-to-intermediate range.” If that was the case BACK in High School why was he labeled as a runner or a mobile QB in both college and before the NFL Draft? Cam chose to go to Florida coming out of High School, his other choices were: LSU, Oklahoma, Mississipi State, and Ole Miss. Cam had some off the field  issues at Florida that led to him going to a Junior College for a year in 2009. Cam flew largely under the radar prior to 2010, that was one and only year at Auburn and his 1st year starting at QB on that level. Cam grabbed the country by storm during that 2010 Season as he won the Heisman Trophy and the National Championship. No matter what he did with his arm, most everyone kept talking about his rushing ability. In 2010 Cam passed for 2854 yards, with 30 TDs and 7 INTs playing in a spread offense. He did just as much damage on the ground as he rushed for 1473 yards and 20 TDs, his QB Rating was 182.0. Cam put up record-breaking numbers his Rookie Season, there are many factors to be considered, i.e coming off a lockout, they were playing from behind, etc. Those are things to consider, yet they aren’t enough to take away from what the man accomplished. The same folks that said he was a project or not a good passer when in the pocket had nothing to say at the end of the season. Cam proved he’s much more than an elite level athlete playing the QB position, he’s simply a well-rounded QB blessed with elite athleticism. Passing for 4,051 yards in your rookie year is not an accident, it means you have talent to play the position and well at that. It’s far too early to tell how good Cam is, but it is early enough to say that most were wrong and he’s much more a QB than he was given credit for coming into the league. There has yet to be a QB in the NFL with the physical tools Cam has; he is not like anyone else, he’s the first Cam Newton and that should be enough.

Last but not least, Mr. Robert Griffin the Third from the Class of 2008. Robert did not get a tenth of the attention that Andrew and Cam received, not even after his first year at Baylor. As a True Freshman, Robert put up very respectable numbers: 2091 passing yards, 15 TDs, 3 INTs, with a QB Rating of 142.0. 846 Rushing yards with 13 TDs. Keep those numbers in mind, as a High School Senior Robert was rated 40th at the QB position per ESPN 150. His overall scout grade given by ESPN 150 was a 77, don’t you think that was a little low after looking at his Freshman stats at Baylor? Mr. Griffin, like Cam was known as an elite level athlete who was playing the QB position in High School. Robert ran track and was the fastest in the state of Houston in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. While labeled little more than an athlete, here’s an excerpt from a scouting report from ESPN 150: “When in the pocket, he works out of the shotgun and is a good ball handler on play-action. Throws a soft, catchable deep ball and when his feet are set in the pocket will show some rhythm. Right now his feet are his best asset and he is more pure athlete than he is polished pocket passer, but he has the patience and the tools to develop into a true QB.” Did we learn nothing from Cam Newton? Looking deeper is needed, telling just a part of the story made many people look foolish. Griffin like Newton went on to beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy, here’s Griffin’s numbers in 2011: 4293 passing yards, 37 TDs, 6 INTs, with a QB rating of 189.5. He also ran for 699 yards and 10 TDs. Robert showed us all that he’s able to pass out of the pocket as his career progressed at Baylor, he worked hard to round out his game and has the tools to succeed at the NFL. In both 2010 and 2011 we watched two young men off of the radar hold the collegiate season hostage with their talents. There is no reason to compare Robert to Cam, just as there is no reason to doubt two consecutive Heisman Trophy winners.

While Andrew Luck is preparing for his Rookie season(remarkably under the radar for a Number 1 overall pick), Robert Griffin is being compared to Cam Newton and his success during his Rookie year. If one wishes to hold the Number Two overall pick to Cam Newton’s record breaking season, how does one not hold the Number One overall pick to the same standard?? That is exactly why that premise is illogical, these are three special talents who don’t play in the same division. If that was the case then let the comparisons fly, since that isn’t the case why can’t we just enjoy what these players bring to the table? It is year two for Cam and year one for Andrew and Robert, it is FAR too early for comparisons with former NFL players or with each other. These three QBs worked extremely hard to get here, they weren’t highly touted until they forced the country to pay them attention. They will continue to work hard, after three or four years we can get together and determine who’s the better QB. Until that time comes, there is no reason to do anything but sit back and watch Three of a Kind.

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts and comments below!!

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CEO/Founder of My Mind on Sports For More Information on Wilson, check out his Bio in the "Team" Section Follow Wilson on Twitter: @Willietspeaks

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