As we come towards the close of the 2012 Scouting Combine, one thing is for sure—the top of the NFL draft remains the same as it was before the hootenanny got started.
You're still looking at Robert Griffin III going second as the Rams are busy trying to trade their No. 2 pick. Former USC tackle Matt Kalil remains the likeliest third pick.
The first, as it has been since he decided to skip the 2011 draft, is former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Luck and Griffin both declined to throw at the combine, despite some begging from Mike Mayock. Much has been made of this, so before I get into this, let me say that while I would have loved to see RG3 and Luck throw the ball, there was no reason for them to do so. If Luck had thrown, maybe Griffin would have. Really, though, neither one had anywhere to go but down. Everybody has seen the game tape, they know what these guys can do. They've very little to prove.
So don't expect any repercussions for Luck not throwing (on the other hand, Arizona State's Brock Osweiler not throwing was a poor decision, depending on how hurt he really was). Especially since Luck left us with a ton to talk about, anyway. In fact, many walked away from his combine performance feeling he managed to raise his stock even more.
Really, though, how did he do? Sure, he looked great this weekend, but he's supposedly one of the best pro prospects at his position since anyone strapped on a leather helmet, but this isn't the greatest quarterback group.
This weekend he looked fantastic, but how about some of the guys who have come before him?
One of the things that people don't talk much about—or, rather, didn't before this weekend—is how athletic Andrew Luck is. The offense he was in at Stanford wasn't one that required him to show it, which is why people didn't notice it.
They noticed it Sunday.
Luck's numbers wowed scouts and analysts alike and brought to mind another quarterback—the first overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft. Cam Newton knows what it's like to have aspects of your game overlooked, and his success with the Panthers remind us not to come into analysis with preconceived notions.
In fact, Luck's combine numbers mirrored Newton's so well that some talented person made a .gif of Newton, Luck and Griffin running their 40s at the same time.
It's not as good as when Rich Eisen gets the same treatment, but it's more useful.
While Luck's "official" 40 time was 4.67, his "unofficial" time was exactly what Newton did last year—4.59. Mind you, that means he had a much slower run on one of the attempts, while Newton did not (his final combined total was 4.56).
Luck also compared pretty favorably to Newton in several other drills.
His three-cone was 6.80 to Newton's 6.92, while Newton's shuttle was quicker by a .10 of a second (4.18 to 4.28). Luck outjumped Newton in the vertical (36 inches to 35), while Newton had two inches on Luck in the broad jump (10'4" to 10'6").
All this points out is how despite all the hand-wringing to the contrary, the combine continues to serve a real purpose for scouts and players. Andrew Luck is more athletic than anything we've seen on film, just as Robert Griffin III is impressing scouts far more in the interview rooms than people gave him credit for.
Luck matches up pretty well with a few of the other big-name quarterbacks from the past few years as well.
His 40 time topped such high-profile quarterbacks as Tim Tebow (4.72), Colt McCoy (4.79), Matt Stafford (4.81), Mark Sanchez (4.88), Josh Freeman (4.97), Jay Cutler (4.77), Matt Ryan (4.98) and Joe Flacco (4.86).
Josh Johnson (4.55), an athletic quarterback in the mold of a Newton or Griffin, is one of the few players still in the league who was faster than Luck and he's likely to remain a backup.
Luck was outjumped in the vertical by Tebow (38.5 inches), but beat out Sanchez (32.5), Freeman (33.5), Stafford (30.5) and Flacco (28.5).
Tebow also bested him in the three-cone with a time of 6.66 (and oh, how that time made everyone laugh) and was joined by Jake Locker (6.77), though Luck edged Flacco (6.82).
Luck did do the 'L' drill quicker than current Jaguars starter Blaine Gabbert (6.84) as well as Sanchez (7.06), Stafford (7.06) and Cutler (7.10).
If you want to spend all day sorting the quarterback position groups for the last few years, head over to NFL.com and shuffle players and drills to your heart's content.
So Luck looks pretty good in shorts against his contemporaries, but what about the wily vets?
Here are a few of the perennial Pro Bowlers and big guns in the league right now.
As you can see, Luck (and also Griffin) compare favorably to the current quarterback studs across the board.
There are several omissions you will notice on that list. Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Michael Vick opted out of the drills at their combine. The man Luck is "destined" to replace, Peyton Manning, also skipped the drills, though in his case it was due to a knee issue.
A bunch of the top players also opted out of throwing, so again, Luck is not alone there.
What does this all mean?
Not much in the realm of things. Luck appears to be a can't-miss prospect, but until he takes a snap we just don't know. Just because someone blows up the combine is not an indication they are a pro ball player (Vernon Gholston, paging Mr. Vernon Gholston).
In Luck's case, though, it reminds scouts (and analysts) that there is more to the former Stanford quarterback's game than meets the eye.
We may not know what he is truly capable of until he steps onto the field for his first game—but so far, he measures up favorably to the best that have come before him.
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