When the Washington Redskins gave the St. Louis Rams three first-round picks and a second-round pick in exchange for the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they did so thinking they were getting their franchise quarterback in reigning Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
Andrew Luck, who was also a member of the 2012 draft class, was considered one of the best pure quarterback prospects we have ever seen come through the draft. Luck went first overall, and has since developed into one of the NFL's best at the position. Griffin was also highly praised coming out of Baylor, where he had an outstanding career. Both were considered to be potential franchise changing players, but only one has successfully done that.
In his first NFL season, Griffin flashed the potential that Washington saw when they traded away a massive haul to St. Louis for his services. Actually, he did more than flash potential. Griffin was extremely good, especially considering it was only his first professional season. He was able to lead the Redskins to the playoffs before tearing his ACL.
Unlike most organizations who draft a running quarterback from a college spread-style offense, the Redskins allowed Griffin to use his legs early and often in his rookie campaign. With a player like Griffin, his legs are his most valuable asset. He can either run for yards, or create big plays in the passing game by drawing away defenders by scrambling. Giving Griffin the option to run freely allowed to him be successful both in the run game and through the air. He threw for 3200 yards and 20 twenty touchdowns, while at the same time rushing for 815 yards and seven touchdowns.
Just as it started to look like the Redskins made the right call by trading for Robert Griffin III, he tore his ACL. With most NFL quarterbacks, it is not that big of an issue for their future. But with Griffin's production relying so heavily on his ability to run with the ball, it was an injury that had the potential to be devastating.
After fully recovering from his season-ending injury, Griffin was back on the field and ready to prove he was still the Redskins' quarterback of the future. Due to the fact that Griffin was coming off of such a major injury, the Washington coaching staff drastically changed the offensive playbook. They essentially tried to force Griffin to become a pocket passer, and only wanted him to use his legs when necessary. This caused him to get hit significantly more in the pocket, and he battled injuries all year long.
Since his exciting rookie season and season-ending ACL injury, Griffin has never been the same player. Due to his style of play, maybe the ACL tear is something that would have lowered his production in a major way. But we will likely never know if that was the true issue. The Redskins never opened the playbook back up for Griffin and allowed him to do what makes him the best player he can be. Now, two seasons later, it seems like Robert Griffin III's time in Washington could be over soon and it is not guaranteed that he will find another NFL home. We saw what some would call a glimpse of greatest from Griffin in his rookie season, but a knee injury and several bad organizational decisions later, it appears we have seen the best of Griffin. I think it is fair to say; the Washington Redskins ruined Robert Griffin III.
By Jacob Young, @Jacob_BBS