Bloomberg News

Luck, Griffin Headline NFL Draft as Giants Take Running Back

April 27, 2012

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III became the fifth pair of quarterbacks to be taken with the top two picks in the National Football League draft, while the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants closed the first round by selecting the last of three running backs.

Luck, the Heisman Trophy runner-up the past two seasons at Stanford University, went No. 1 to the Indianapolis Colts as the replacement for four-time Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, who was cut last month after 14 years with the team.

“I don’t know if in my mind it’ll be because I was the number one pick, but I have high expectations for myself and I’ll try to go out there and prove myself every week,” Luck, 22, said last night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where the first of seven rounds was completed.

The New York Jets were booed when they used their first pick, the 16th overall, on University of North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, while the Giants ended the opening round after just over three hours by taking Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the 32nd pick.

The second and third rounds will be held tonight, followed by the final four rounds tomorrow.

Griffin, who won the Heisman at Baylor University last season as college football’s best player, was taken second by the Washington Redskins, who last month sent three first-round picks to St. Louis to move up four spots on the draft board.

Quarterbacks Go 1-2

The last time quarterbacks were the first two picks was 1999, when Tim Couch was selected No. 1 by the Cleveland Browns and Donovan McNabb went second to the Philadelphia Eagles. A year earlier, the Colts took Manning with the top pick and the San Diego Chargers followed by drafting Ryan Leaf.

“You don’t play quarterbacks in this league,” Griffin said about being connected to Luck. “You’ll always be compared head-to-head. But you play defenses.”

Two other quarterbacks were taken in the first round last night, including the Miami Dolphins’ selection of Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, who converted from wide receiver as a junior, with the No. 8 pick. It’s the first time the Dolphins, who have had eight different players lead them in passing yards the past nine seasons, have drafted a quarterback in the opening round since Dan Marino in 1983. Tannehill set Texas A&M records with 3,744 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior.

The Cleveland Browns selected 28-year-old Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd selection after trading up one spot to draft University of Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick.

Top Running Back

Richardson was the first running back taken among the first three picks since Reggie Bush in 2006. He was also among four players from the defending national champion Crimson Tide to be drafted in the first round.

“He’s passionate, he’s productive, he’s durable and he’s the kind of runner we think is going to help us put an offense together to score the points to win the games that we’re going to win,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Richardson, who rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior last year.

The Browns sent the fourth overall pick to the Vikings as well as their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round choices to move into position to add Richardson.

The trade was among eight during the opening round of the draft and a record 19 including trades made in prior years involving first-round 2012 picks.

After the Vikings took University of Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil fourth, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up two slots to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon at No. 5.

Cowboys Get Booed

The Dallas Cowboys drew some of the loudest boos in New York from fans of the division-rival Giants when they moved up to sixth to take Louisiana State cornerback Morris Claiborne, the 2011 Jim Thorpe award winner as the nation’s top defensive back.

Luck is regarded by some scouts as the NFL’s best quarterback prospect since Manning in 1998, having led Stanford to a 31-7 record over four seasons while winning multiple player of the year honors and setting Pac-12 Conference career records for passing efficiency and completion percentage.

Worst Record

The 6-foot-4, 234-pound Luck will probably immediately take over at quarterback for a team that tied for the NFL’s worst record last season at 2-14. Manning, who was the Colts’ last No. 1 overall pick, was released on March 7 and signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent.

The Colts opted to part ways with Manning rather than pay $35.4 million in salary and bonus money this year to a 35-year- old seeking to come back from multiple neck surgeries that forced him to miss the 2011 season.

Now they’ll make the transition to Luck, the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck.

“We got our man,” Colts new coach Chuck Pagano said at a news conference. “We did get the very best player, the very best quarterback in this year’s draft.”

Griffin, 22, joins a Redskins team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005.

He entered the draft after a junior season in which he was the nation’s top-rated quarterback, completing 72 percent of his passes at Baylor for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions. The former All-American hurdler also rushed for 699 yards and 10 scores.

“To whom much is given, much is expected and I’m going to expect more out of myself and my teammates than any of the fans will,” said Griffin, who last night wore maroon and gold socks -- the Redskins’ colors -- with his baby blue suit.

Patriots Trade Up

After the Jets drafted Coples at No. 16, the rival New England Patriots twice traded up to take defensive players, getting Syracuse University defensive end Chandler Jones with the 21st pick and Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower 25th.

The final two first-round picks were running backs, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Boise State’s Doug Martin at No. 31 while the Giants followed with Wilson, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the year after rushing for 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns at Virginia Tech.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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