Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were almost teammates in college.
Former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh recruited both out of high school, but Griffin chose Baylor after Luck already had picked the Cardinal.
“My whole thinking behind that was he was already committed and the two-quarterback thing doesn’t work,” Griffin said. “I didn’t want to have to either me be the one that transferred or Luck be the one that transferred. So I decided to go to a different college.”
Now the two talented quarterbacks will be forever joined in NFL draft history as they likely will become the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the draft Thursday. It likely will be the fifth time since 1967 that quarterbacks were taken with the top two selections.
The last time was in 1999 with Tim Couch (Browns) and Donovan McNabb (Eagles). But McNabb excelled and Couch fizzled. Unlike that duo, Luck and Griffin appear headed toward successful – and lengthy – NFL careers.
Quiet and unassuming, Luck has enormous shoes to fill in Indianapolis, replacing a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning, who joined Denver in free agency after the Colts released him.
“Peyton was my hero growing up,” Luck said. “He was my football hero. That’s who I modeled myself after in high school, middle school, whatever it was. You never truly replace a guy like that.”
The Redskins traded two first-round picks, along with a second-rounder to St. Louis for the right to move up from the No. 6 overall choice to No. 2 ostensibly to select Griffin, who will become the face of football in Washington.
Griffin said he’s not intimidated by that proposition.
“As a quarterback, you’re going to be put in the forefront whether you want it or not,” he said. “And if you’re not, then you’re not doing your job. As the quarterback of an organization, you’re going to be out there. You’re going to have billboards as long as you’re playing well, and I plan on playing well.”
Although blessed with track speed, Griffin is quick to note that he’s not a running quarterback in the same vein as Michael Vick and Cam Newton.
However, Griffin should be an ideal fit for Washington coach Mike Shanahan’s offense, which emphasizes moving the pocket and having the quarterback throw on the run.
“I think it’s just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback – you’re run first, throw second,” Griffin said. “I think I’ve proven I’m a throw-first (QB), and then run if I need to.”
While out of the running for Luck and Griffin, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks are in the hunt for a developmental prospect later in the draft.
Seattle appeared to fill the team’s need at quarterback by signing Matt Flynn in free agency.
However, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider traveled to watch the pro days of Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler in March.
And offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell attended Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson’s pro day.
Carroll and Schneider haven’t drafted a quarterback since taking over in January 2010. But they still consider improving the overall talent at that position one of their top priorities.
“It just happens like that,” Schneider said. “You can’t just manufacture a guy. You can’t just create him. When you do that is when you get in trouble, so you have to take steps until you get there.
“It’s not like we’re against taking risk. I think Pete and I and the staff have proved we’re willing to take risks, but they can’t be risks that would completely set the organization back.”