It’s crazy what can happen in just three years. Robert Griffin III (RG3) was winning the Heisman Trophy and lighting it up with the Washington Redskins, while Andrew Luck was throwing 18 interceptions in his rookie year.
Although Luck went first overall to the Indianapolis Colts, one could make a true argument that the Colts should have drafted RG3, as he seemed to be the better quarterback during the 2012 season. After running for 815 yards, and throwing for 3200 yards with 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, RG3 was one of the most exciting players in the National Football League (NFL).
Andrew Luck was playing well, but he was throwing a lot of interceptions in his rookie season. Luck finished the year with 4374 passing yards, including 23 touchdowns, which is very impressive season for a rookie quarterback, but the mobility of Griffin III definitely made some wonder who should have gone first overall instead.
Flash forward just over two years, and you’d get laughed out of the room if you said you would rather have Griffin III than Luck. Although Luck’s yards digressed in his second season, his interception rate dropped and he is currently on pace for his best year as a pro with 3641 yards in the air, alongside 29 touchdowns.
Two years ago, a RG3 vs. Luck showdown would have been the highest rated game on Sunday, but instead RG3 was benched for Colt McCoy and Luck threw for five touchdowns in a 49-27 romp against the Redskins.
Injuries are obviously a huge reason to why Griffin III is getting benched, but it’s crazy to see how far his career has fallen in such a short period of time. Is the once very anticipated Luck vs. Griffin III rivalry slowly turning into a Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf situation? Potentially.
Comparing Ryan Leaf to Griffin III is not a real discussion when you compare skill, however, the luck for the Colts and misfortune for the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins can be compared. Leaf is the definition of a bust, as he threw two touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first career season, and has served a longer sentence in prison than he did in the NFL.
Like Griffin III and Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft, Manning and Leaf were the best two available quarterbacks in their draft class. Although Manning and Leaf were both highly remarked by scouts, the Colts decided to pick Manning, which we all know now was the right thing to do. With selecting Manning instead of Leaf, and again picking Luck instead of Griffin III, the Colts may be the luckiest franchise in professional sports.
What if the Colts picked Leaf instead of Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft? Would his struggles have been limited with the Colts or would the same story have been told? Most likely his skills would not have been up to NFL standards and the Colts would have been a bottom feeder in the NFL for a while, but who knows. Also, imagine if Manning dropped to second and the Chargers drafted him instead?
The Chargers may possibly have had the best offense in the NFL for a solid decade. LaDainian Tomlinson alongside Manning in the early 2000s would have been the most lethal combination in years. Manning has the ability to make any receiver good, so it wouldn’t have mattered whom he was throwing to. The Marvin Harrison-Manning connection would never have happened but I’m sure he would have found another receiver to throw hundred’s of touchdowns to.
Without drafting Manning back in 1998, the entire history of the NFL would have changed and the Colts may not have had the fortune of being the luckiest franchise in the NFL. If healthy, Luck will probably play for another 10-13 years and if he continues his career with the Colts, the Colts would essentially have two Hall of Fame quarterbacks for a 30-year span.
Amazing quarterbacks rarely get traded in the NFL and usually become franchise players. As a result, Luck will most likely be staying in Indianapolis for quite some time, while Griffin III could be destined for a new team, just three years after being drafted.
It’s crazy to see how much the draft can affect a franchises destiny and change another’s in only a few short seasons. After trading down in the 2012 NFL Draft so that the Redskins could draft RG3 instead, Griffin may be coming full-circle for the St. Louis Rams if they end up acquiring him. The Rams need a quarterback and it shouldn’t come at the price that the Redskins paid for him back in 2012, which would be great for Rams fans.
The Indianapolis Colts are quite fortunate to have struck gold twice in drafting two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, whereas both the Redskins and Chargers have been bewildered from playing second-fiddle. Even though there’s potential that RG3 could eventually revive his NFL career, he’ll never be in the same conversation as Luck.
Maybe it has something to do with the horseshoes on the Colts helmets for all these years, or the incredible pun that comes from drafting Andrew Luck, but at the end of the day, the Colts are flat out lucky.