- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
That plus Papillon plus the fact that Luck didn't have cable TV his first 2½ years at Stanford have branded him as, well, different. "Don't go making me into a nerd," he said with a laugh.
Outside the hotel, although he wasn't looking, Luck's future home stadium loomed. There's not going to be too much pressure on him: If the Colts draft him, he'll be compared for the rest of his life to one of the top quarterbacks of all time. And he'll be compared to Griffin, one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects of all time. Luck was able to sidestep the spotlight and have a fairly normal student life for much of his Stanford career. That's not going to happen in the NFL, where 750 media members cover the underwear Olympics known as the combine. How will he handle the mayhem to come?
"That's a great question," he said. "I wonder that too. I think what will help me is, I truly care about the opinions of a few people—my family, my close friends, my coaches, my teammates. Aside from that I can live with whatever people say about me. But it may be unnerving. I don't know. I haven't been through it yet."
If there's one thing Luck must do to ensure his top-pick status, it's to prove to skeptical scouts and coaches that he has a deep arm. He didn't throw at Indy, so that test will come on March 22, at Stanford's pro day. For Griffin the job between now and the draft will be to show he can play in a more standard offense than the Baylor spread, in which speed receivers created the best big-play threat in college football last year. "We ran the spread, yes," Griffin told SI on Saturday night, just before embarking on an evening of more interviews with pro teams. "But we also ran the pro style inside the spread. It's not an under-center game anymore anyway. The college game is seeping into the pro game. When I watch the Saints I see Drew Brees spreading the field, and we run plays like that. We have progression reads just like in the NFL. I'm reading leverage, I'm reading coverage. So I'm not concerned that I can't do that in the NFL, no matter what offense they ask me to run."
Griffin ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine, but he said repeatedly that he views himself as a drop-back quarterback who can run—not a running quarterback who can throw. It's clear that NFL teams view him as a pro-ready passer.
The charismatic, ever-smiling Griffin is the kind of figure who naturally attracts people, big and small. Last fall Mike Vick regularly tweeted excitedly during Griffin's Baylor games, I see you son! Griffin was incredulous but got a kick out of that. His coach at Baylor, Art Briles, says, "He makes people want to follow him."
Which a camera crew was doing Saturday night. As Griffin made his way to his first interview of the evening, with the Dolphins, he turned around and mischievously said to the camera, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach!" Like Luck, Griffin would be competition for LeBron James from Day One.