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THE 1-2 PUNCH
PETER KING
April 23, 2012
ECHOES OF '98 ABOUND AS THE FOOTBALL WORLD WEIGHS THE MERITS OF THE QUARTERBACK PAIR CERTAIN TO BE TAKEN AT THE TOP ON APRIL 26. Like PEYTON MANNING AND RYAN LEAF 14 YEARS AGO, ANDREW LUCK AND ROBERT GRIFFIN III WILL BE FOREVER LINKED AS COSTARS IN A DRAFT THAT WILL SHAPE THE FATES OF TWO FRANCHISES
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April 23, 2012

The 1-2 Punch

ECHOES OF '98 ABOUND AS THE FOOTBALL WORLD WEIGHS THE MERITS OF THE QUARTERBACK PAIR CERTAIN TO BE TAKEN AT THE TOP ON APRIL 26. Like PEYTON MANNING AND RYAN LEAF 14 YEARS AGO, ANDREW LUCK AND ROBERT GRIFFIN III WILL BE FOREVER LINKED AS COSTARS IN A DRAFT THAT WILL SHAPE THE FATES OF TWO FRANCHISES

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"Being mobile is not a negative," Young says, "as long as you're intellectually disciplined. As long as Robert Griffin becomes a master of his offense, with the way he moves, he can be great."

Although Griffin is quicker in the pocket and faster out of it, it's a mistake to assume Luck isn't athletic. As Manning did at Tennessee, Luck consistently evaded pressure at Stanford, making smart decisions and sharp throws on the run. At this point Griffin has a quicker release and a consistently better deep ball, but Baylor's speedier wideouts allowed him to go downfield more often. When Luck had his Pro Day workout in March, his last pass traveled 76 yards, a tight spiral, and hit his receiver in the hands. The kid dropped it. (Luck does have one hitch in his delivery: He sometimes lifts his back leg as he throws, lessening the speed of his pass.)

The Colts, virtually stripped bare by a new front office and coaching staff, are starting over. The Redskins are in Year 3 of a rebuilding program; they will have a better offensive line and receiving corps than Indianapolis; they were a respectable 13th in team defense; and they beat the Super Bowl champion Giants twice by double digits. "Luck is as far along in the pro game as any [college] quarterback I've ever seen," says former Ravens coach Brian Billick, "but RG3 is going to have a better rookie year. He'll have more assets around him."

Luck does have more experience in an NFL-style offense, though at times Stanford's attack looked like the Packers of the '60s. Tapes of the 2011 season show clearly that the Cardinal ran a power offense often keyed to the running game. Against Oregon last season Stanford lined up on two straight plays, and not in short yardage, with Luck under center, and a three-man I formation behind him: tight end, fullback and tailback. Both times the tight end went in motion but returned to wham-block a defensive lineman after the snap. Stanford gained 12 yards on the first play, eight on the second.

Mind you, these were both plays Luck could have audibled out of but didn't. He ran what served his offense best. "I could make an argument that he cost himself the Heisman by calling so many runs when he knew he could rack up big yards throwing it," says Stanford coach David Shaw.

Coaches like that. Luck's got a conscience. When in doubt, he's safe and in control.

Griffin's just as conscientious, though. When he learns his offense, you probably won't hear anyone ever calling him selfish, or a shortcutter. And that's what's so compelling about Griffin and Luck. Fans are going to watch these two for years and debate who's better. They're the story of the 2012 draft—and they could be the story of the NFL for the next decade.

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