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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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Even if he doesn't throw at combine, RG3 still eyeing No. 1

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

'I want to be the best. I want to be [taken] No. 1,' Robert Griffin III says. (Getty Images)  
'I want to be the best. I want to be [taken] No. 1,' Robert Griffin III says. (Getty Images)  

Somehow it seems entirely appropriate that Robert Griffin III already has earned a bachelor's degree in political science.

Because it seems like every question tossed at him -- whether it be about the prospect of serving his NFL apprenticeship behind four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, how he compares to Stanford's Andrew Luck, the city of Indianapolis, or the NFL in general -- the former Baylor star and reigning Heisman Trophy winner offers the most expedient reply.

"It's always great to have a plan, and to consider [contingencies], you know?" Griffin said. "I believe that you have be ready for the future, even if you don't know what it's going to bring. You know, be prepared."

OK, so maybe Griffin isn't a boy scout. But NFL scouts will soon be scrutinizing his every move, and the Indianapolis Colts' talent assessors will evaluate over the next couple months if he is worthy of the league's ultimate merit badge: the distinction of being the first overall player selected in the 2012 draft.

"I want to be the best. I want to be [taken] No. 1. But I also want to be wanted," Griffin said. "Whether I get drafted first or not, it's not going to change the way that I play or the confidence that I have in my own ability."

In a 25-minute session with about 20 reporters at the Super Bowl, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson suggested that the team's quarterback situation is "still up in the air."

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Grigson feigned surprise a bit when reminded that Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay has already announced the Colts will choose a quarterback, the successor to Manning, no matter the state of their iconic star's rehabilitation.

Grigson noted that he has seen in-person the draft prospects from roughly 45 teams, the due diligence of reviewing video resumed following the Super Bowl. A thorough review of the two quarterbacks is at or near the top of the to-do list.

Which is fine with Griffin.

In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Griffin seemed to embrace the host city. While his interview requests were carefully managed, he was accommodating. He signed autographs when recognized in the downtown area, chatted up fans, made himself available when possible.

"I want teams to take the closest look possible, don't leave any stone unturned, and don't leave anything to chance," Griffin. "Look at the film, interview me, whatever. There's nothing to hide. I'm confident it will all work out."

Speaking of workouts, Griffin was adamant about not missing one in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week but he's likely to skip the featured Sunday afternoon throwing session here during the combine, opting instead to save his honed motion for scouts for Baylor's March 21 Pro Day.

Griffin endorsed moving the campus workout up one day so as to cater to scouts who also want to be at Stanford's Pro Day scheduled for March 22.

Griffin said his thought process centers around not wanting to throw to unfamiliar receivers at the combine after working with former NFL quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Terry Shea to sharpen his mechanics. But don't be surprised if his competitive fire blazes this week in conversations with prodding evaluators and Griffin takes the field Sunday.

He's hitting Indianapolis focused on articulating his role in Baylor's ascension. While Griffin is knocked for being merely an elite athlete in a spread offense, he'll share with general managers and scouts how he ran Art Briles' precision timing system without the benefit of a playbook until the 2011 season.

As former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo once said, "The elite quarterbacks in this league are the ones that master the art of executing the unrehearsed."

For that, Griffin will draw plaudits from all corners.

"I'm excited to wow them in interviews," Griffin said. "Just so they can understand it's not as simple as some people make our spread out to be."

Rest assured, even if Griffin doesn't run the 40-yard dash or throw at Lucas Oil Stadium this week, he can't be blamed for going easy on himself in workouts. During Super Bowl week, he was in constant motion, going for hours until his dreadlocks were saturated.

"There are no shortcuts, I've found that out," Griffin said.

The former Baylor star might arguably be more engaging than his Stanford counterpart, but the Colts' choice between the two will be made on who can do his talking on the field, not to a gaggle of reporters. Griffin, who does not seem to mind the attention nearly as much as Luck and says all the right things when asked about the possibility of playing behind Manning, understands that talent for throwing a football, not the gift of gab, will command the No. 1 spot.

"You can't talk yourself into [the top pick]," he said.

Still, Griffin has a fairly compelling narrative to tell, including his decision to enroll at Baylor after originally committing to the University of Houston -- he was also heavily recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play at Stanford -- his rehab from a torn right anterior cruciate ligament sustained in 2009, how at age 11 he basically became the man of the house when his father shipped off to Iraq, the manner in which he resurrected the Baylor football program.

In 2011, Griffin completed 291 of 402 passes for 4,293 yards, with 37 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. The season before, in coming back from the knee injury that limited him to three games in 2009, Griffin completed had even more attempts and completions. Over his final two seasons, he rushed for 1,334 yards and 18 touchdowns. At the combine, where neither he nor Luck has yet committed to throwing, Griffin figures to answer any lingering doubts about his size.

If he squeezes ahead of Luck for the top spot, it will be his past production and his future potential that will get him there, not politics.

"You can't talk a good game, you have to play it," he said. "I think, so far, I've done my part."

The next act for Griffin and Luck opens this week in Indianapolis.

"We can't be best friends because of it, but we're not enemies either," Griffin said. "We're both competitors."

Let the debate begin.


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