Once the toast of the NFL during his rookie campaign as the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Robert Griffin III has become part cautionary tale, part tale as old as time. With 20 touchdowns and a 102.4 passer rating in his first year with the Redskins, Griffin was out of the league in 2017 after an unsuccessful attempt to revive his career in Cleveland.
Now Griffin III returns to the AFC North once more, this time unlikely to make the team by Week 1. While Griffin was always a fringe signing for the Ravens after the team did not sign backup Ryan Mallet, the selection of Lamar Jackson in April’s draft almost assured three’s a crowd. Still, whether Griffin is taking meaningful snaps or not, he surely has some valueable wisdom that he can impart to the rookie.
Also a Heisman Trophy winner in 2011, Griffin’s mobile quarterback style more closely matches Jackson’s approach to the game. In his four years at Baylor, Griffin rushed for 33 touchdowns. Lamar rushed for 49 touchdowns during his three seasons at Louisville. Selected much higher in the first round, RGIII understands the hype machine surrounding first round quarterbacks and the added pressure that is placed on minorities in a league where teams are still predominantly quarterbacked by white players.
Robert Griffin III accurately describes himself as an “old, young guy” as reported by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. While he may no longer have the knees to start in the league, he is both close enough and far enough removed from his AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honor to have wisdom and empathy for the expectations and scrutiny that await the Ravens “man in waiting.” If nothing more, Griffin surely will be able to emphasize the importance of being more conservative in the NFL so Jackson can avoid putting his most valuable asset — his body — in danger.
While Joe Flacco justly needs to be focused on his own game and developing a rapport with Baltimore’s new receivers and tight ends, Griffin would be smart to position himself as a locker room asset by taking Jackson under his wing and investing in his off season development. It would take a miracle for Griffin to resurrect his promising career that was initially derailed by an LCL sprain he sustained from a Haloti Ngata hit in a December 2012 game against the Ravens. However, he can carve a niche out for himself in the NFL as serviceable backup. Supporting the starter is a huge part of that position, and Griffin’s relationship with Jackson can serve as a proof point for his leadership abilities moving forward.