Andrew Luck Is Ready to Play in the NFL, but Is He Ready to Lead a Franchise?

Marcelo VillaFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 25, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal looks on against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's no secret that big changes are in store for the Indianapolis Colts this off-season, but the biggest change may be the replacement of their franchise quarterback. The Colts front office has gone back and forth on the idea of keeping Peyton Manning or replacing him with the highly touted Andrew Luck, but is the pressure of carrying an entire franchise on his back too much for Luck?

When Manning was selected first overall in the 1998 draft the Indianapolis Colts expected big things from the University of Tennessee standout, but his value to the franchise would become immeasurable in years to come. In his 14 seasons with the team, Manning has led the Colts to the postseason on 11 occasions and into the Super Bowl in 2006 and 2009. Along with a Super Bowl win in 2006, Manning has also racked up numerous MVP awards and several individual league mentions along the way. Ultimately, Manning was successful in handling the weight of an entire team on his shoulders. Now that his tenure in Indianapolis may be coming to an end, it seems as though Luck will be expected to do the same plus more.

Coming out of the University of Stanford, Luck has seen his share of his success at the college level and every NFL scout believes the 22-year-old has the tangibles to be a franchise quarterback in the pros. Luck has been highly regarded as the most pro-ready quarterback to come out of the draft in recent years and his attitude on and off the field has shown he possesses the leadership skills to build a team around. 

With that in mind, we've all witnessed the success and failure of the rookie quarterback trial. Starting a rookie quarterback early can be detrimental to his development or trigger his confidence to perform in the NFL. The pressure of having early success can easily overcome a rookie quarterback. On top of that Luck has the difficult task of filling the shoes of a player who is sure to be a hall of fame quarterback when his career is over. One player that comes to mind regarding this situation is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. When Brett Favre was forced out of Green Bay, Rodgers took over the reigns of a franchise that built their success around the quarterback position. The Packers organization was committed to Rodgers and wasted no time handing him the reigns early. That decision is paying dividends now with Rodgers becoming one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.

Should Luck be chosen as the new leader of the Colts, there will be a lot of pressure to perform well early for a team that may very well be on the rebuilding path. We'll find out soon enough what direction the franchise chooses to go in and whether or not they decide to go all in and try their luck.