It’s simply the logical path the league now finds itself on. The days when teams pined for a burly, 6-foot-5 statue who could throw from the pocket and do little else seen like ages ago. Instead, we’re seeing a different model, one 1st legitimized by the mind-blowing rookie season of Carolina’s Cam Newton last year and now pushed forward even more by Griffin’s fast start. It used was that “mobile” was the only way to describe such abilities. “Versatile” is the more accurate word choice in this case.
“You’re absolutely seeing an evolution at that position,” said Shea, who also has worked with top draft picks like St. Louis’ Sam Bradford, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. “It used to be that teams would refer to certain players as athletes playing quarterback. Now it’s getting turned around. People are beginning to QB that we have quarterbacks playing the position who just happen to have great athletic ability.”
“The ‘drop-back’ QB always referred to someone who had more organization and discipline to play in the pocket,” declared George Whitfield, who trained Cam Newton for last year’s combine. “The idea was that you had a guy like [Hall of Famer] Troy Aikman and a fellow like [former Nebraska star QB] Tommie Frazier and you couldn’t marry their talent sets. What I’ve seen from the younger quarterbacks coming up is an admiration for more traditional quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Those guys didn’t have the best God-given ability but they turned themselves into legends. Now you’re seeing that very same drop-back talent being one of the best athletes on the field. That is when it gets scary.” Basketball odds
Griffin and Newton are not the only recent poster children for that trend. Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill had enough natural capability that he played WR at the beginning of his college career at Texas A&M. Tennessee’s 2nd-year QB, Jake Locker, ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at last year’s NFL combine, and another rookie, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, won his team’s starting job over highly touted free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn because Wilson is dynamic, both as a passer and a runner.
Even Luck doesn’t get enough credit for his overall athleticism. Though he downplayed his ability recently – “I’m nowhere near the sportsman that Cam Newton or Robert Griffin is” – his coaches stress that he’s very much a part of this offensive evolution. “People sometimes do not understand that Andrew’s combine numbers were very like Cam Newton’s,” asserted Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. “Plus, he came from a pro-style offense, so he’s already familiar with how we operate at this level. What you’re looking for in any QB is a big, strong kid who’s accurate as a passer. If he’s a athlete, that’s a nice extra benefit to have in there.”
Combine those talents with Griffin’s intelligence and work ethic, and he’s a coach’s dream. When he worked with Shea this past spring, Griffin routinely would throw about 100 passes before the coach would end the drill for the day. After that, Griffin would go to each receiver he’d trained with – players who were attempting to improve their own draft status – and ask them what they needed to work on. It had been a small offer, but one that said plenty about Griffin’s generosity and belief in preparation.