Notes from the North

So what do you think? Which Number One will live up to expectations? Which will fail?

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin (RGIII) were referred to in the NFL Network's coverage of the draft as being Picks 1 and 1a. It's clear that the entire football community saw these two guys as pretty much equals in terms of potential to win in the NFL.

But will they both succeed? Or will the 2012 Draft turn into a repeat of 1998 version: two highly touted college qbs, two hopeful teams making their picks, one player succeeding beyond anyone's wildest dreams and the other... flopping both in football and, apparently, in life?

Or, and let's hope against hope this doesn't happen, will both Luck and RGIII prove disappointments in the NFL?

You're probably reading a lot of post-draft analyses, telling you that this team had a great draft and that team messed things up badly. Do you believe in any of these articles written by so-called experts? Do you celebrate for the teams that have apparently won in the draft and feel sorry for the ones who supposedly failed this year?

The fact is, a strong percentage of players picked in the first round wash out of the NFL very quickly, despite their lofty reputations and the intense scrutiny they've undergone in preparation for the draft. And, just as strong a percentage of players taken in the "later rounds" of the draft turn into valuable NFL players, some even superstars, despite the low expectations that their draft number suggest.

These draft post-mortems are just as ridiculous as the hundreds of mock drafts that litter the sports media in the weeks leading to the big weekend in New York.

Despite their best efforts, you see, the NFL continues to be unable to predict accurately which players will succeed and which will fail.

Take Luck and RGIII, for example. From all reports, they are remarkably similar in the "measurables" heading into the draft. Both were immensely successful college players, both can "make all the throws", both have good speed, good quickness, good arm strength and good heads on their shoulders.

Yet it is likely that at least one of them will disappoint in the NFL? Why?

In my opinion, and I'm open to argument on these points, the answers to the following questions will have the biggest impact on the relative success of RGIII and Luck in their NFL careers:

1. How do they adjust their own personal psychology now that the goal they set all through college (to make it into the pros) has been achieved? How soon can they adopt a new goal in the NFL?

2. How do they adjust to the money they will now enjoy?

3. How strong is their support system (friends and family) as they try to make the adjustments mentioned in 1 and 2 above?

4. What kind of situation are they walking into with their new teams,  from the standpoint of the quality of their coaches and teammates both as footballers and as people? and

5. How lucky will they be, both in terms of their performance and in terms of their health?

Did you notice that none of these criteria are physical in nature, except perhaps the comment on the player's health?

NFL teams cannot measure these criteria in advance of the draft because they are all only experienced after the players are selected and put on an NFL uniform.

I don't know enough about either Luck or RGIII to be able to speculate on how questions 1, 2 and 3 will be answered. From what I've heard, they are both admirable individuals with good work ethics and strong support systems. I hope so.

With regard to question 4, I will say this: I think RGIII inherits a more talented team in Washington but I think Luck will find a better group of people with the Colts.

Does that make sense?

If their past performance is any indication, the Colts' braintrust will build a quality team around Luck, one filled with character guys that is designed around his skills and abilities. Luck will lose a lot in the early years and may take a physical pounding but, if his health and confidence hold out, he should be in a good position to win by 2015.

I'm not so confident about the situation into which RGIII will be thrust with the 'Skins. He's already being touted as the "saviour" of a team that has floundered for a long time. But he's joining a group of high-priced, underperforming former free agents who can't seem to put the team ahead of their own personal needs. Griffin will be expected to win from the start but he'll be hampered by being part of an organisation that doesn't seem to understand the hard work required to be successful.

Washington has tried to buy success in the past and shows few signs of changing that approach. The 'Skins still have enough players of unsavoury character and, if those types of guys are the ones that insinuate themselves into RGIII's life early in his career, he may be doomed as an NFL quarterback.

Time will only tell if the top two picks of this year's draft produce two winners, two losers or one of each. And if only one of the two succeeds, it's practically impossible to predict today which that will be.

From what I can see, however, the Colts, as an organisation, possess the qualities better suited to helping a young qb succeed than do the 'Skins. So Luck maybe going to a better place to begin his career than RGIII.

April 30, 2012  12:21 PM ET

would guess in 5 yrs they will both be considered 10 QBs in the league. how much talent is placed around these guys will be the difference. so, i'd say maybe Luck has the better chance with long term success since they seem to know how to build around their QBs strengths. but i think RG will be good too, if he stays healthy.

April 30, 2012  11:33 PM ET

I don't think either will fail. RGIII probably has a better offensive supporting cast to help him succeed quicker.


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