NFL Draft: Who Is The Best QB Comparable For Robert Griffin III? (Who Cares…)

As the NFL Draft rapidly approaches, the “common wisdom” is that there are three offensive players – Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Trent Richardson – who are locks to be NFL superstars.

Of course, nobody can ever be certain that a player is a lock. After all, huge busts are drafted high every single year.

But if you were forced to put your money on three guys who will prove to be “can’t miss” – it would be those three.

The two QBs at the top, as usual, are getting most of the hype.

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are two of the three "can't miss" offensive prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins tonight.


Who Does RG3 Compare Most Favorably To?

We know all there is to know about Andrew Luck. He has been a lock for the #1 pick ever since he was a sophomore. However, Robert Griffin III’s stock has skyrocketed to an almost unprecedented degree.

A year ago, he was a track star that was trying to learn how to play quarterback, or so the conventional wisdom went. Now? A lot of people think he is actually going to be a BETTER player than Andrew Luck.

Personally, I like RG3, and I really hope he’s an awesome player; but I think people are missing who he really is.

He’s as fast as Michael Vick, but the only other thing they have in common is their skin color. I really don’t think the Vick/Griffin comps make any sense. Griffin already has more touch on his deep ball than Vick has ever had. He’s also bigger and stronger than the Eagles QB, so theoretically, he won’t be as big of an injury risk.

RG3 isn’t really Cam Newton either. Newton is much more similar to Ben Roethlisberger because of their incredible size. Sure, Cam can run better than Ben, but Cam is not nearly as mobile as RG3.

Actually, it doesn’t take long at all to find another recent QB from the Big 12 that Robert Griffin does compare pretty favorably to.

Let’s do a blind comparison below before we reveal who the other QB is.

Blind Comparison Between RG3 and a Big 12 Legend

In order to take as much bias out of the equation as possible, all stats are taken solely from each player’s conference play only.

QB #1


  • 6’2″
  • 220 lbs.
  • Has run a 4.41 40-yard-dash.

Big 12 stats over final two seasons (17 games):

  • 309.4 YPG.
  • 69.1% Completion Rate.
  • 36 TDs, 12 INTs.
  • 53.5 Rushing YPG.  13 Rushing TDs.

QB #2


  • 6’1″
  • 215 lbs.
  • Has run a 4.67 40-yard-dash.

Big 12 stats over his final two seasons (16 games):

  • 271.5 YPG.
  • 73.8% Completion Rate.
  • 35 TDs, 11 INTs.
  • 37.5 Rushing YPG.  8 Rushing TDs.

Right off the bat you will notice that here are a few differences, but both players are still pretty comparable.

Obviously, you know that RG3 is QB #1 because of the blazing fast 40-time. While he’s a bit faster than the second guy, they are both about the same size, and QB #2 is by no means slow.

Griffin threw for more yards per game, but he had a lower completion rate (even though both guys had ridiculously high completion rates). In one fewer game, QB#2 threw one less TD and INT than RG3 as well.

Griffin also has a small edge in the rushing department, but both guys averaged at least four yards per carry in two different college seasons.

So who is mystery man #2? Well, it might surprise you, but that guy is none other than Colt McCoy. And a deeper look into the numbers brings Colt McCoy’s value coming out of college up even closer to RG3’s.

While defenses in the Big 12 have never been awesome over the past ten years, they were definitely better when McCoy was playing.

For instance, in 2011 (RG3’s Heisman campaign), not a single Big 12 defense allowed fewer than 334 total yards per game. In fact, only two teams held tteams under 400 yards per game, and Baylor’s defense allowed a staggering 515 yards per game.

RG3 played on a team that was built to win in a shootout. It’s not a stretch in the least bit to think that had he played on a different team or in a different league, he would have put up some more modest numbers.

Meanwhile, three Big 12 teams held their opponents under 300 yards per game during Colt McCoy’s senior season (his own Texas squad being one of them). Past that, only four teams allowed their opponents to gain over 400 yards per game, with Texas A&M bringing up the rear at 460 yards per game.

Once both of these factors are brought into play, McCoy and Griffin – both four year starters – are that much more comparable in terms of production as college players.

As human beings, it’s hard to find a bad word about either guy. Both players are religious individuals from strong families that seem to be proven leaders. Both guys also stayed (largely) injury free while in college as well.

So statistically, physically, and humanly (if that’s a word), RG3 and Colt McCoy coming out of college stack up rather nicely.

Now obviously, they do have their differences. Robert Griffin III is a much better athlete than Colt McCoy – even though McCoy is no slouch himself.

On the other hand, McCoy was a proven winner who graduated from college with more wins than any other QB in history. Playing for Texas as opposed to Baylor, of course, helped McCoy establish this record; but he also played in more bigger games on bigger stages than Griffin, who toiled in relative obscurity until this past season.

(Sound of the DJ slamming the record to a skipping halt)

So…Who Cares?

So what does all of this mean?

It’s hard to say. But one thing’s for sure: most of you probably aren’t buying the RG3/Colt McCoy comparison.

It doesn’t matter what the statistics/measurables say…they just aren’t the same player, are they? And why not? Because you have to look at the bigger picture.

Whenever you compare only two guys, evaluations can be skewed towards one guy one way or the other.

Let’s travel back to 1998. There were two “can’t miss locks” at the QB position: Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. And when you compared them only with each other, guess what? Ryan Leaf looked pretty good.

After all…

  • Leaf was slightly bigger and stronger than Manning.
  • Leaf definitely had a stronger arm than Manning.
  • Leaf actually was more mobile than Manning too.

Where did Manning have the edge?

Well, we thought he was a little smarter, and he had the pedigree, and he seemed to be a good leader.

Yeah…that’s some real exciting and tangible stuff right there, isn’t it?

Now, come back to today. Let’s look at Andrew Luck and RG3.

  • RG3 is definitely the better athlete than Andrew Luck.
  • RG3 has a stronger arm than Luck.
  • RG3 also supposedly has better touch on the deep ball.

Where does Luck have the edge?

Well, we think he’s a little smarter, and he has the pedigree, and he seems to be a good leader.

Yeah…that’s some real exciting and tangible stuff right there, isn’t it?

Look, I don’t know whether or not RG3 will be the next Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Colt McCoy, or what. Actually, I think he will probably be the first RG3. Either way, the key to his success will not lie in who he is or is not comparable to. It will also not lie in his 40-time or his arm strength.

Either RG3 will be able to read defenses and make smart decisions, or he won’t.

We just don’t know yet.

But we do know one thing: the answer can’t be found by looking at and comparing him with others.

Who is RG3? I can’t wait to find out.


About the Author

Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.