INDIANAPOLIS — It takes a secure person to show off his multicolored Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles socks at a job interview. It probably isn’t surprising, then, that Robert Griffin III did just that in front of cameras and reporters at the NFL scouting combine on Friday afternoon.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has plenty of reasons to be confident, at least regarding his chances of convincing a team to trade up to select him with the second overall pick in April’s draft.
To complement his electric speed, strong arm and quality throwing mechanics, he charmed the media here during a 12-minute press conference in which he nailed the part of franchise quarterback.
Griffin was well spoken, smart, engaging, genuine, funny, polished and self-aware — qualities that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and his lieutenants surely will be fond of as they continue their search for a quarterback during the pre-draft process.
“I hope somebody falls in love with me — other than my fiancée,” Griffin quipped. “But that’s what you want. As a player you want a team that really wants you; head coach, GM, owner, everybody that really wants you in their place and the players believe in you. I’m looking forward to making somebody fall in love with me.”
Perhaps Cupid’s arrow will strike Saturday, when Griffin is expected to meet with the Redskins. Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen declined to speak to reporters this week — the Redskins are one of only four teams to abstain from media interviews here — but they wouldn’t be the first executives to become smitten with Baylor’s junior quarterback.
“Literally, his value, I think, is at [pick Nos.] 1 or 2,” said coach Jeff Fisher, whose St. Louis Rams happen to own the second overall pick. “I don’t think whether he has a good pro day or runs fast and has a good combine is that important. Put the tape on and watch him play. His body of work speaks for itself.”
And it’s not just a sales job by Fisher.
“The reality with this kid is all I see on tape is I love everything about the kid,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said earlier this month.
Griffin won’t throw Sunday with the other quarterbacks, an abstention common among top quarterback prospects. But he is making the interview rounds, and teams put equal importance on a quarterback’s off-the-field qualities as they do his on-field ability.
If Friday’s back-and-forth with reporters is any indication, he’ll ace his meetings with teams.
Griffin, who was Academic All-Big 12 first team in 2010, spoke about his military background. His mother, Jacqueline, served 12 years, and his father served 21, including in two wars.
“Discipline was something that was obviously huge,” Griffin said. “If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If you start it, you finish it. Yes sir, no ma’am. And you’ve got to have that kind of structure in your life. It kind of helped me be that disciplined person that I am, whether it’s with workouts, film or just the game of football.”
Yet Griffin hardly seemed regimented.
“He has a very different and unique personality than others,” said Kendall Wright, Griffin’s top receiver at Baylor. “You can tell by the socks he wears. He’s a very different person and a great guy.”
Wright’s socks comment preceded Griffin’s ascent to the podium, so logically the first question he faced centered on the pair he was wearing. He proudly lifted his left pants leg to reveal his ode to the crime-fighting comic book heroes in a half shell.
“It started my sophomore year in high school,” Griffin said. “I wasn’t one that really matched all that well. That’s why the socks usually never match anything that I’m wearing. It was just to show that I’m comfortable with who I am.”
Griffin wouldn’t concede the No. 1 overall pick to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, but there figures to be an active market for his rights at No. 2. The Redskins could be a candidate to trade up from the sixth pick.
Fisher and new St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead welcomed the possibility of a trade.
“I’ve definitely heard there’s a rumor that there’s two good quarterbacks in this draft,” Snead cracked. “We’re going to be prepared for all options, especially if multiple teams think there are two good quarterbacks and one goes first.”
That’s becoming the most likely scenario.
“Whether I go No. 1 or not, it’s not going to change who I am,” Griffin said. “It’s not going to change my confidence.”