Andrew Luck knows exactly where he's heading, and so does Robert Griffin III.
For the rest of the college stars preparing for the NFL draft tonight, the anxiety is building. Nobody is looking forward to the green room at Radio City Music Hall. The buildup has been a blast but the actual countdown – one through 253, the number of players who will be formally welcomed into the NFL today through Saturday.
The top prospects, obviously, in this year’s NFL draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, are uncannily similar. They both starred in high school in Texas and were recruited by Stanford (although Griffin chose Baylor).
Both quarterbacks took their respective teams from toward the bottom of the college football pack to national prominence. In doing so, they accrued similar career statistics (Luck passed for 9,430 yards and 82 touchdowns while Griffin passed for 10,366 yards and 78 touchdowns) and were the top contenders for this past year’s Heisman Trophy, which Griffin won. Both quarterbacks are respected by teammates and praised for the quality of their character by coaches. They also both excelled in the classroom, earning similar college GPAs.
By most accounts, the Indianapolis Colts can’t go wrong drafting Andrew Luck No. 1, nor will the quarterback-starved Washington Redskins make a mistake selecting Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.
Of course, it was widely assumed the Cleveland Browns nailed it in ’99 with Tim Couch as the top overall selection, but the Philadelphia Eagles can’t really complain about what No. 2 pick Donovan McNabb delivered to the franchise from 1999 to 2009 — well, everything except that elusive Super Bowl victory.
Unlike a year ago, when an early run on quarterbacks caught most NFL draft prognosticators flat-footed, most have now resigned themselves to the notion that the QB count might reach four before the first round is done.
The drama swirls around where Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden will go, especially with Cleveland and Miami sorely needing quarterbacks.
In the 2011 draft, shortly after Cam Newton was taken first by Carolina, there was an unexpected rush on the position, with Jake Locker going eighth to Tennessee, Blaine Gabbert 10th to Jacksonville, and Christian Ponder 12th to Minnesota.
Of course, much of a young quarterback's success depends on where he's drafted and the supporting cast that surrounds him. Last year, for instance, Texas Christian's Andy Dalton slipped into the second round — even past quarterback-needy Seattle at No. 25 — before being taken by Cincinnati with the 35th pick. Dalton wound up being the find of the draft, leading the Bengals to the playoffs.
Fourteen of the Week 1 starting quarterbacks last season were drafted after the first round. However, most of the elite quarterbacks are snapped up quickly.
The first round begins at 8 p.m. ET, but the early minutes don’t figure to be drama-filled: For the first time since 1999, quarterbacks will be drafted first and second overall.
Check out all of 750 The Game’s Draft Coverage from this week!