By Tony Grossi
Morning kickoff …
Palm Beach, Fla.
Luck v. RG3: Until the Indianapolis Colts make it official and select Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft, speculation will increase that they are seriously debating throwing everyone’s mock draft asunder and taking Robert Griffin III instead.
Some reputable analysts on the RG3 bandwagon are building a case that Griffin is the wiser choice.
Most coaches and NFL executives I polled on the subject copped out and wouldn’t give a useable answer. Their standard response was, “I haven’t studied them enough to say because I don’t need a quarterback.”
Charlie Casserly, the former GM of Houston and Washington now with CBS Sports and NFL.com, is someone whose opinion I highly respect. (Casserly’s last draft with the Texans in 2006 was one of the NFL’s finest draft classes in the last six years.)
Casserly didn’t hesitate in naming Luck as the clear choice for No. 1. Here’s how he broke down the decision:
“First, there are obvious differences in size. Luck is 6-4, 240. (Griffin) is 6-2-plus and about 220. So size (goes to Luck), which equals the durability part of it.
“Second, Luck has already run a pro-style offense, which means the checks at the line, the reads, all that, and he does it at an A-plus level. Griffin hasn’t done any of that yet, so you haven’t seen him do it.
“So one guy is the prototype in all areas and he’s played at a high level. The other guy has talent, but hasn’t done that. So to me those two things separate them right off the bat.”
Casserly’s analysis isn’t based solely on things Griffin hasn’t done. He likes him a lot, acknowledges his superior athletic ability and also thinks he is smart enough to learn the nuances of the pro game. But Casserly gushes about Luck.
“This guy, Luck, is a special guy. This is a Peyton Manning-type situation, where he grew up with a father who played in the NFL, and he’s grown up in that environment. When you interview him, it’s like interviewing a guy who’s been in the league for five years.”
The coach who almost had both: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh coached Luck at Stanford. He also recruited Griffin and thought Griffin was in the Stanford fold despite the presence of Luck.
“He was a 4.0 student, his test scores were extremely high,” Harbaugh said of Griffin. “This was a Stanford kid. Maybe a month after (Griffin’s) visit, he called and said he was going to go to (Baylor). That left a bruise. I really wanted him on our team. I’ve been a big fan ever since.”
As you may expect, Harbaugh praised Luck to high heaven.The two of them rejuvenated the Stanford football program together and Harbaugh led you to believe Luck was more responsible than the coach.
But when asked if the choice between the two were an easy choice or a tough one, Harbaugh answered, “A tough choice.” He likes Griffin a lot, too.
Redskins don’t care: So how would the Redskins feel if Colts owner Jim Irsay had one of those zany ownership moments and fell in love with Griffin?
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan followed the lead of GM Bruce Allen and said he would be happy with either quarterback.
I asked Shanahan if Griffin’s renowned athletic ability appeals to him more than Luck’s size and professional readiness.
“You can always adjust your offense to your players,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re usually not going to be in this league very long. The quarterbacks I’ve had, Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Elway, Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler … all of them had different styles and you have to adjust.”
Bottom line: What if the Colts do change their minds and choose Griffin and leave Luck for Washington? That would mean the Browns missed out on Luck by not offering the Rams enough in a trade for the No. 2 spot in the draft.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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