Draft Profile of the Day: Andrew Luck 2012 NFL Draft Scouting Report
What is there left to say about Andrew Luck that hasn't already been said? Robert Griffin III was the darling of the combine, which might prompt some to ask, "Well, what is so special about Andrew Luck?"
After all, it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that Luck would be the No. 1 pick for so long now that perhaps we should revisit exactly why it has been considered inevitable for the last year:
Luck's size is ideal at 6'4", 234 pounds. He is a tremendous athlete, as his 4.67 40 and 36" vertical at the combine proves (for comparison's sake, Jordan Jefferson—whose shot in the NFL will likely be based on his raw athleticism—had a 4.65 40 and 36.5" vertical).
Luck has good, but not great, arm strength. It should be no limitation on his game, as he has shown that he can make all of the throws at the collegiate level.
Almost everything about Luck's game looks like a polished NFL veteran quarterback. He executes his play fakes and drops from under center crisply, and his footwork is flawless. His throwing mechanics are silky smooth, almost effortless, with a quick over-the-top release and good footwork, save for an occasional throw off of his back foot or off balance.
This all shows up in Luck's ultra-accurate game, throwing completions over 70 percent of the time in the last two seasons, and not by cheating and throwing mostly close to the line of scrimmage. Luck is accurate on the move, and he is accurate throwing to all parts of the field.
Luck's most impressive attribute won't jump out at you on film, and that's the ability to read a defense. Many college QBs can excel within the progressions and scheme of his program, but Luck seemed to completely internalize Stanford's pro-style offense to the point where he called his own audibles and really understood how to create and exploit weaknesses in the defense's approach to stopping him. He can look off safeties with ease, and he'll make stick throws and aspirational throws that only his receiver can catch like the best pro QBs.
He is generally a very mentally tough QB with advanced pocket presence and escapability, although you might like to see him climb the ladder and move within the pocket a little more often than he leaves the pocket. Luck's athleticism does get him outside of the pocket with regularity, and he doesn't fear contact or otherwise lose his focus on making a play by throwing downfield.
Luck is a highly intelligent player both on and off the field, he's a natural leader in all facets of the game and he clearly elevated his program during his time at Stanford.
When he's under a lot of pressure, Luck does make some bad decisions and even look a bit panicked. His immense ability can also turn into a weakness, as he makes ill-advised throws into double coverage because he trusts himself so much. In general, Luck would be well-served not trying to do everything himself and admitting defeat by punting a down every now and then. The sporadic breakdown of his mechanics/footwork will cause him to lose some zip on his passes.
Maybe the biggest negative at this point is the weight of the "next Peyton Manning" expectations that he has been carrying with him for a long time. After all, "lacks elite arm strength" is listed as a negative in a lot of his scouting reports—when something isn't outstanding in his game, it is considered to be a negative for Luck. Fans and media won't have the typical patience granted to a rookie quarterback, especially after Cam Newton's revelatory rookie year, so Luck may have to deal with adversity early in his career.
Still, we're nitpicking here. He really is the best QB prospect in a long time, maybe since, yes, Peyton Manning.
Reason for Pause
Let's be clear, Luck's floor is Matt Ryan. That's right, his worst-case scenario is that he'll be Matt Ryan, a QB more than half of the teams in the league would be elated to have right now. That is, Luck will be limited by his arm strength (although its better than Ryan's). He'll start to see more ghosts with the speed and viciousness of an NFL pass-rush constantly bearing down on him. He'll make his team into a winner and move the offense with regularity, but he won't take over games like the truly elite NFL QBs do in January (Matt Ryan's career playoff record? 0-3).
If you like a healthy dose of skepticism, check out the film cut-ups from Luck's sophomore year that compile his negative plays in addition to his highlights.
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