Before Tim Tebow became the story of the NFL world in 2011 and convinced the Broncos to commit to him entering next season, the Denver front office was targeting another versatile, Heisman trophy-winning quarterback as a potential first-round pick this April — Baylor's Robert Griffin III.
Rated behind only Stanford's Andrew Luck among quarterback prospects in the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, Griffin is likely to earn a top-five selection. That almost surely would keep RGIII out of Denver's reach, as the Broncos would have to package several picks — including their first-round selection (No. 25 overall) to move up to get him.
However, it appears the Broncos began their research into "RG3" long ago.
"At a certain point this season, with conversations I had there, they were really doing their due diligence on RG3 because of some of the things he can do to the offense," NFL.com's Steve Wyche reported.
Blessed with extraordinary foot speed and touch on the deep ball, Griffin is a multidimensional threat who appears perfectly suited to taking the NFL by storm. He's entering the league at precisely the right time. The immediate success by Cam Newton will be used by some as evidence that Griffin can make a quick transition to the NFL.
Considering his unique talents, the fact that the Broncos were closely scouting Griffin is no surprise. Frankly, it would be a surprise only if they didn't scout Griffin (and every other highly regarded prospect) closely. Teams don't just scout the players at perceived positions of need. Each team works hard to do their due diligence on every prospect who could potentially help their team.
While the Broncos aren't likely to be among them, there are several teams looking for help at quarterback. As owners of the No. 1 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts will have the first option of taking Griffin. Team owner Jim Irsay mentioned RG3 by name when predicting who his Colts might take with the first pick.
"With Griffin and Luck and the way it's shaping up at the top of the draft, (it) could very likely go one and two like with Peyton and Ryan Leaf (1998)," Irsay said recently.
Besides the Colts, the Cleveland Browns (No. 4, No. 22 overall), Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 8 or 9*) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 11 or 12*) are teams thought to be keenly interested in Griffin. (*The Dolphins' and Seahawks' final draft slot won't be determined until a coin-flip held at the Scouting Combine, which will break their tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively).
If Mike Holmgren and Co. want Griffin in Cleveland, they may be able to wait for him to land in their laps at No. 4. Considering the extra first-round pick they have due to Atlanta's trade up for Julio Jones last April, the Browns have the ammunition to move up, if needed. Miami, Washington and Seattle do not have an extra first-round pick this year but with enough talent on their rosters to potentially emerge as serious playoff contenders with better play at quarterback, one (or more) of the clubs could be willing to pony up several picks in an effort to move up for Griffin.
All of which is music to the ears of the St. Louis Rams, owners of the No. 2 overall pick and their own young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. Many believe the Rams should auction off the pick to the highest bidder.
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Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange