Stanford Football: Ryan Leaf

More pressure: Luck or Griffin?

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
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Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com presented an interesting opinion last week regarding ex-Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

Jeremiah's take was that former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who bested Luck in the Heisman vote but was No. 2 in the draft to Luck's No. 1, has more pressure on him than Luck does in 2012.

He bases his opinion on the following reasons:

  1. Griffin will be expected to lead his team to more victories.
  2. The NFC East is far tougher than the AFC South.
  3. RG3 is in a bigger media market.
[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck, Robert Griffin
AP Photo/Richard DrewBoth top draft pick Andrew Luck, left, and No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III are under tremendous pressure.
Jeremiah adds a few final thoughts to his argument -- including the fact that RG3's presence actually takes the pressure off of Luck.
In my opinion, Robert Griffin III is the best thing that ever happened to Andrew Luck. Just nine months ago, it was widely thought that Luck would enter the NFL with more hype than any player in the last decade. Now, it's likely that he won't even receive the same attention in his rookie season as another quarterback in his own draft class. Sharing the spotlight with another player will help ease the pressure on Luck and allow him to focus on simply improving day by day.

To each his own, but the expectations for Luck are so ridiculously astronomical (not unlike last season) that it's going to be almost impossible for him to live up to them -- at least in the immediate future.

No one has labeled Griffin "the best quarterback to enter the draft since Peyton Manning" or "the best prospect since John Elway." Griffin is drawing comparisons to Michael Vick, Luck to Elway. All due respect to Vick -- but he doesn't belong in the same breath as Elway.

Luck has been handling the pressure for the past two years -- from Heisman expectations to his decision to return for another season. And maybe it's the aw-shucks way Luck handles the media that you never realize exactly how much pressure is truly on him.

And the fact that he has to follow Manning -- who will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game -- adds an entirely different element of pressure that Griffin won't have to experience. Heavy lies the head of he who replaces Rex Grossman. Puh-lease.

Sometimes, guys are able to overcome that. See: Young, Steve. Others, not so much. See: Griese, Brian.

Jeremiah's points are all well-taken, specifically the NFC East being a tougher conference. No disputes there. But while Griffin might be expected to lead his team to more victories in 2012, Luck is expected to lead his team to more Super Bowl victories over the span of his career. And that pressure starts in Year 1.

Since 1993, four quarterbacks have been taken with the No. 2 overall pick: Griffin, Donovan McNabb (1999), Ryan Leaf (1998) and Rick Mirer (1993). In that same span, 13 quarterbacks have gone No. 1 overall. By default, being the No. 1 pick carries more pressure and loftier assumptions.

Both will face a heavy dose of scrutiny, and their careers will forever be linked because they were Nos. 1 and 2 in the draft. But Luck's top-pick status, the guy he's following in Indianapolis and the weighty expectations for a Hall of Fame career place a heavier burden on Luck's shoulders in 2012 and beyond.

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