A year ago, there was a raging debate about whether Cam Newton was worthy of the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Carolina Panthers picked him, and he set a rookie record with 4,501 passing yards. K.C. Joyner has a piece up today on ESPN.com that says that the physical and statistical profile of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III suggests that he could break that record in 2012:
In his 2010 Heisman Trophy-winning campaign with the Auburn Tigers, Newton averaged 9.3 yards per attempt (YPA) in games against opponents from BCS conferences. He also tallied a 12.9 vertical YPA (vertical defined as passes thrown 11 or more yards downfield) and a 15.5 stretch vertical YPA (aerials thrown 20 or more yards).
All of those are superb totals, but contrast them with the 2011 totals posted by Griffin in games against opponents from BCS conferences: 10.7 overall YPA (tops in the FBS), 16.0 vertical YPA and 23.0 stretch vertical YPA. Each of Griffin's marks is appreciably better than Newton's. While Griffin may not have the shiftiness Newton possesses, he is a terrific scrambler in his own right with elite speed that defenses must respect.
It's an Insider piece, so that's all you'll get here unless you pay for the Insider access. But of course this is a player of particular interest to the Washington Redskins, who are picking sixth in this year's draft and need a quarterback desperately. The Indianapolis Colts look set to pick Stanford's Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick, but the St. Louis Rams have the No. 2 pick and just took Sam Bradford No. 1 two years ago. They don't need Griffin, and they'll likely trade out of that pick to a team that does. That team could be Cleveland, Miami, Washington or some team we haven't yet identified. To get that No. 2 pick, such a team would likely have to deal this year's first-round pick and next year's at a minimum. If there's a bidding war, the price could go higher.
The question for the Redskins is whether it's worth it to them to spend this year's first-round pick and next year's on a guy who could be the next Newton. The answer likely lies somewhere in between now and the draft. The Redskins need to get to work in free agency. If they end up getting a quarterback like Kyle Orton or Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning in free agency, that'll tell you they've decided not to deal up for Griffin. But if they can really hit it big in free agency at wide receiver, offensive line and in the defensive secondary, and they fill those spots with guys they think can be long-term answers at those positions, then they might get to draft day with quarterback as their only remaining huge need, and at that point they might decide that next year's first-rounder is a worthwhile price for their long-term answer at the most important position.
The question is whether you want to pick your franchise quarterback and tell him you won't have a first-round pick next year to help build the team around him. And the answer will change depending on how complete the rest of the roster looks come draft day.