Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg knows first-hand what it is like to be the No. 1 selection of a franchise and can empathize with what Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is going through as he gets ready for the opportunity to join the Washington Redskins.
But Strasburg believes Griffin has the makings of an elite quarterback in the NFL because of his physical talent and his overall makeup.
"You don't see too many quarterbacks that have all the tools that he has," Strasburg said. "It's not just the tools for the quarterback position, it is the tools of an athlete. He is a world-class runner. He can throw the ball and he is not afraid to get hit. I am excited to see what he can do. From everything that I hear, he is a very humble person off the field which makes him an even more of a fun player to watch."
Strasburg loves to watch the NFL and was a die-hard Chargers fan growing up in San Diego.
"I am still a big Chargers fan," Strasburg said. "I got a chance to talk to Eric Weddle, Shawn Phillips and Quentin Jammer. They are some great guys. Believe it or not, they are big baseball fans, too. It is pretty cool to see what they do on the field and it is really amazing how big those guys are out there and how fast they can run."
Young players like Weddle and Jammer are playing well early in their NFL careers, and being on the same team has helped them grow together as professional athletes, learning what the other can do on the field. Strasburg feels that same kinship with the Nationals' starting staff that also includes Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
"It is great," Strasburg said. "The even better thing is that we are all young and still learning the game. All of us still haven't reached our peak performance. It is great to be in a situation where you can learn from a lot of guys and really pick each other up through the grind of the season."
Catcher Jesus Flores said Gonzalez has the best lefty curve on the staff and Strasburg the best righty curve. Strasburg said he has compared notes with Gonzalez to see why his curveball is so good.
"I talked to Gio about how he throws his curveball," Strasburg said. "I think we throw it a little bit differently. It kind of moves the same. It is all about what works. If you get a feel for it, you kind of understand what you want to do with it. The biggest thing is really learning how to get into the right frame of mind mentally before you throw the pitch to be able to execute it the same way every single time."
It is amazing to think just last season, Detwiler was in the minors, Zimmermann was on an innings limit, and Jackson and Gonzalez were on other teams. Now they are all together with plenty of time to get better. Looks like they are a good match. Just like the Redskins hope RGIII is for their NFL franchise.