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Redskins Select Robert Griffin III With No. 2 Pick In NFL Draft

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally published 4/26/12, 8:14 p.m.; updated 4/26/12, 10:44 p.m.)

This story appears in Friday’s Free Lance-Star

ASHBURN – Having had nearly six weeks to contemplate a future in Washington, Robert Griffin III took that time to learn a few things about the Redskins.

He spent time with Mike Shanahan, first at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in mid-February and then in Northern Virginia last month, in order to build a relationship with the Redskins’ head coach. He hosted Kyle Shanahan on two occasions, getting an opportunity to talk about schemes and personnel with the offensive coordinator.

And in his downtime, Griffin picked up a little bit of an understanding of Redskins pageantry, too.

“Hail to the Redskins! Hail victory!” the Baylor quarterback said Thursday night, singing the team’s fight song shortly after it made him the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft. “That’s how it felt. It felt that good.”

Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner this past December, is one of the most promising quarterbacks to come out of the college ranks in years, and the hope is that he’ll bring relief to a franchise and fanbase that has longed for a quarterback it can build a team around.

“I think he’s going to bring a whole lot to this organization,” Mike Shanahan said. “You’re always looking for that franchise guy – and the term is used without him proving himself yet, and we understand that – but he’s got everything we look for in a quarterback. Hopefully, we can get the supporting cast around him, we can start playing well as a football team and give him a chance to do some special things.”

An affable guy with a bright smile and pleasant demeanor, Griffin set countless records during his time at Baylor, relying upon his cannon arm and his fleet feet to turn around a program that was, for a long time, stuck in the cellar of college football.

The hope is that the 6-foot-2, 223-pounder from Texas will do that with the Redskins as well, rejuvenating a team that has made just four playoff appearances since last winning the Super Bowl after the 1991 season.

There have been 21 different quarterbacks who have started a game for the Redskins since then – not even two years after Griffin was born. Only three – Gus Frerotte in 1996, Brad Johnson in 1999 and Jason Campbell in 2008 and 2009 – have managed to start every game, and even Shanahan, who took over as head coach prior to the 2010 season, has started three.

Griffin, growing up in Texas, understands this. Having keenly watched the Dallas Cowboys over the years and, by extension, the rest of the NFC East, he said even as a football fan, it was a relief to see the franchise finally commit to a young quarterback.

“I’ve seen how many quarterbacks they’ve gone through, and I’m glad the organization bought into drafting a younger quarterback and trying to make him the franchise quarterback and growing with him,” Griffin said.

Shanahan said the team first thought Griffin could be a franchise quarterback earlier this spring after reviewing each of his college games. Similarly convinced of the abilities of Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the team traded the No. 6 pick it originally held, along with its second-round selection and its first-round picks in each of the next two years, to St. Louis for the No. 2 choice and a shot at one of the two.

Indianapolis, predictably, took Luck with the first pick Thursday, freeing the Redskins to select Griffin. Now the electric young quarterback will try to make the transition from college, where he thrived in a spread offense and rarely took snaps under center.

Both Shanahan and Griffin have maintained such a move will not be a concern, given Griffin’s athleticism and post-collegiate training. He’ll arrive in Washington today to meet with the coaches and teammates, then return in a week for the start of the team’s rookie minicamp, where he’ll meet the rest of the players the team selects beginning later tonight.

Griffin, who has dazzled nearly everyone associated with the NFL since leaving Baylor, did the same at Radio City Music Hall in New York, where the draft took place. He wore a powder blue suit and a tie that was more purple than burgundy, though he made up for the miscue by wearing burgundy and gold socks with “Go catch your dream” embroidered in white.

He hugged his parents, Robert Sr. and Jacqueline, after being selected, then gave one to commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage. He held up his Redskins jersey, complete with the Griffin III nameplate, and smiled for the cameras.

As for the fight song, which he sung via teleconference, there was a reason Griffin cut it off with a laugh after two lines.

“I’ll learn the rest and I’ll sing it for y’all soon,” he said.

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