RG3 and his speed

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor University looks for a receiver during the team’s NCAA football game against the Washington Huskies at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, December 29, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Jason Whitlock has an interesting take on Robert Griffin III and the impressive 40-time he displayed at the combine.

In my opinion, Griffin’s speed doesn’t enhance his draft stock. It damages it.

I am not a Robert Griffin hater. I love RG3. In all likelihood, he will be my favorite NFL player next season. He could quickly become my favorite active athlete, ahead of Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis and Jeff George (has yet to file his retirement paperwork).

But I’m worried about Griffin. He’s blessed with too many tools. Oftentimes, the greatest athletes are physically limited, which strengthens their focus. Bill Russell could never match Wilt Chamberlain’s size and limitless athleticism. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weren’t the greatest leapers or the quickest on their feet.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are relatively immobile. They play from the pocket because they have no choice. They mastered the art of playing from the pocket because they had no other choice.

NFL games are won most consistently by quarterbacks who play from the pocket. If a quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s going to get hit. If a quarterback gets hit regularly, he’s going to get hurt. If a franchise quarterback gets injured, his team has little chance of winning the Super Bowl.

NFL teams are looking for the next Manning or Brady. Or the next Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. A little mobility is good, especially if the quarterback moves in the pocket in an effort to throw downfield. Rodgers and Big Ben are terrific at moving to throw. Is that how Griffin will use his athleticism?

Or does Griffin have so much speed that he’ll channel Michael Vick?

Whitlock goes on to recount Vick’s early problems as he relied too much on his speed and athleticism. Athletes like Steve Young had to learn how to stay in the pocket.

Whitlock basically sums up the primary reason why Andrew Luck is rated higher than RG3, even as some think RG3 has more upside. It’s a risk/reward analysis. Luck has shown that he can win strictly as a pocket passer, using his athleticism only when needed.

Can RG3 learn to play that way? Of course he can. But just because he has the aptitude and temperament to learn doesn’t guarantee success. Luck isn’t guaranteed success either, but we’ve seen him operate consistently from the pocket, so there’s less risk.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Buzz building for Courtney Upshaw

University of Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw speaks to reporters during Media Day before his team take on Louisiana State University in the NCAA BCS National Championship, scheduled for January 9, in New Orleans, Louisiana January 6, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

This kid is a beast and he’s likely moving up on many draft boards.

Will Courtney Upshaw be a defensive end or an outside linebacker in the NFL? The Alabama star and surefire first-round pick has insisted throughout Senior Bowl week that he has no preference.

But this much seems assured: The preference of opposing offensive tackles would be that he take up another line of work.

One of the standouts of a dominating Crimson Tide defense, Upshaw has had a fine week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He has worked with the defensive ends throughout the week, though he plans to do OLB drills at the Combine and at Alabama’s pro day. However, Upshaw did get some work standing up in a 3-4 look this week, noted Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, a member of the South coaching staff this week.

Haslett is among those who have been impressed by the first-team All-American, who garnered BCS championship game MVP honors with seven tackles and a sack in Alabama’s shutout of LSU.

“He’s a tightly built guy that’s powerful, extremely fast,” Haslett said. “… I think he’s got so much upside. I think he’s a heck of a football player.”

Power is the 6-1½, 273-pound Upshaw’s game, whether he’s playing the run or getting after the quarterback. The opposition knows this. What follows is a lot of pushing — and pulling, as Upshaw noted.

It’s early in the process, but draft mania is already catching fire. With Twitter we now have an outlet where more and more people can discuss topics like the draft. Upshaw will get a ton of attention throughout this process.

Athlete Profile: Michael Oher

Michael Oher is a big man. At 6’5” and 309 pounds that would seem rather obvious, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Oher’s got quite a back story, a fact that hasn’t been lost on we in the profession of sports writing. A novel concerning his life leading up to his college career has not only been already released, but is in the works for becoming a feature film. While the material remains accurate, it seems reports of Oher’s intelligence (according to Oher) were exaggerated. But no worries, like I said, he’s a big guy.

And what is this life that resulted in a bestseller? OK, I’m not going into too much detail here, it’s been repeated in other places ad nauseam and I don’t want to throw up on my keyboard. Oher grew up more or less homeless, the son of a crack addict and a father who was never there. Roaming through schools, forgotten on holidays and birthdays, it wasn’t until he was taken in by the Tuohy family at 16 that things truly started to turn around for him. Living with the affluent Memphis family helped grant him the stability and backing needed to get him into a position to rise to national attention.

As if all that wasn’t enough to leave a man a bit bitter, he learned that his last name was, in fact, not his last name at all. While trying to obtain a drivers license, Oher learned that government records retained the name of Michael Williams, his biological father’s surname. A bit of a surprise for anybody I must say. Oher took it in stride, getting a license as Michael Williams for a time before eventually changing his legal name to Oher (Oher is from his mother’s side btw).

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10 NFL Draft Observations from Mike Mayock

SI.com’s Peter King shares 10 draft nuggets that he got from Mike Mayock:

1. “This is by far the worst year for the top 10 that I’ve seen. Down around 18, 20, you’ll get every bit the player you’ll get in the top 10 for a third of the price.”

2. His gut feeling is Detroit’s taking Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the first pick of the draft.

3. “I can’t bang the table for Stafford the way I did for Matt Ryan last year. I don’t see an elite player in him every time I watch, which you need to see if you’re taking a quarterback that high.”

4. Mayock, if he had his choice of first-round picks for talent and value, would be around 22. “The value in this draft is at 15 and beyond.”

5. He says eight or nine tight ends will be drafted in the first three rounds. He loves the best of the bunch, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew. (I’d love to see the Bills land him, by the way. Perfect offensive weapon for a coordinator, Turk Schonert, who loves to use the tight end.)

6. He likes Eugene Monroe over Jason Smith, if you’re picking a franchise tackle. “Smith’s got a better upside. Very aggressive. But Monroe’s got the best feet in the draft. He’s a really accomplished technician.”

7. He thinks Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry — who Detroit would play at middle linebacker if the Lions made him the first pick of the draft — would be optimally used at strongside linebacker in the 4-3 because he can cover, he can play physically over the tight end, and he’s got upside pass-rushing ability.

8. He’s scared of Brian Orakpo, the Texas defensive end who’s the apple of a few teams’ eyes in the top half of the first round. “Buyer beware,” Mayock said. “He’s boom or bust. I don’t know if he’s DeMarcus Ware or Vernon Gholston. I’ve seen him have some really good games, and I’ve seen what I considered to be Brandon Pettigrew tearing him apart. The point is, I don’t see it all the time from Orakpo, which concerns me.”

9. Of the elite quarterbacks, he likes USC’s Mark Sanchez the best. “He’s the most ready made for the pro game right now.”

10. If you need a cornerback in this draft, sit it out. There are no corners even well above average, never mind great.

Those are 10 pretty solid observations and outside of maybe deeming Mark Sanchez an elite quarterback-candidate, I can’t find fault in anything Mayock said.

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