The eyes of scouts and coaches are directed westward Thursday, as quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford works out at his Pro Day in Palo Alto, California, and as Paul Kuharsky of ESPN reports it'd take a miracle for Luck to do anything today that could knock him from the top spot in this April's NFL Draft.
“I would think it’s a mere formality,” one scout told me. “I didn’t write him up or study him, but just from crossover tape, you say, 'Oh my God.' He can do a lot of things. He can move. He can throw. He’s smart. He’s in a pro-style offense, so there won’t be a big learning curve.”
“He would have to have a catastrophic workout for him not to be the guy, in my opinion," said a second scout. “The one thing he has to do at his workout in the Colts' eyes is to come out healthy. That is it. He is easy to scout. He is ready to play now and will play at a high level in a short time.”
However, some pundits are now of the belief that Luck's grip on the top slot is far from ironclad after witnessing Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin's workout at Baylor's pro day on Wednesday.
The Heisman Trophy winner drew phenomenal reviews. NFL.com's Gil Brandt, concedes that he came away from the workout much less sure of who the Indianapolis Colts should choose with the first overall pick.
Of the 51 passes that he threw, just two weren’t catchable. His arm strength is very, very good; he threw the ball with ease 60 yards down the field. His anticipation was very good; he was able to hit receivers coming across the field.
Griffin has excellent feet, and he’s equally good going to his right or his left. Many players are better off going one way or the other, but he was equally impressive both ways.
There’s no question in my mind, after seeing him work out today, that he’s going to be a very, very good NFL quarterback in the future. He’s got everything you need in a passing arm, and he’s got speed and quickness of feet.
ESPN's Merrill Hoge is even more convinced that it should be Griffin and not Luck chosen first-overall after watching extensive tape of both players, with Pro Football Talk stating that Hoge was much more impressed with Griffin's overall skill set.
“I went in thinking it’s gonna be Luck [over] RG3,” conceded Hoge, who says he devoted 120 hours of game-tape watching to both signal callers.
Based strictly on game film, Hoge called Griffin a superior prospect in terms of accuracy, arm strength, and touch. Hoge gave Luck the edge only as a decision maker, because Luck played in a pro-style college offense and is “outstanding at the line of scrimmage.” As for athleticism, Hoge says it’s a “push.”
Hoge emphasized that Griffin’s accuracy, particularly on perimeter and downfield throws, is significantly better than Luck’s. ”This to me, you have to have. In college you have to display you have accuracy. … His accuracy outside the numbers — short, intermediate, vertical — I was blown away,” Hoge said. ”I could not believe the accuracy. He was better than Luck.”
These reviews border on astounding, as it is widely believed that Andrew Luck is one the best quarterback prospects in several years. His extensive experience in a pro-style offense would seem to make him a tailor-made fit for a Colts team that appears set to turn the reins over to a rookie after releasing quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Curtis Painter.
However, if Griffin is that good then a whole new can of worms may have been opened in Indianapolis, as the personable, young star in the making brings a dimension to the table that Luck does not.
This isn't meant as any sort of knock on Luck, who displayed impressive athleticism, in his own right, at the NFL scouting combine in February, but his mobility can't be compared to Griffin's. It's partially the latter's ability to extend plays and pick up yardage with his legs that motivated the Washington Redskins to pay a king's ransom to acquire the second overall pick from the St. Louis Rams.
That second pick will still almost certainly be Griffin, but it might be wise for the Indianapolis Colts to at least consider the possibility that their mortal lock pick of Andrew Luck may not be such a lock after all.
If you're choosing between Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, then the vast majority of people, from front office types to fans, would likely take Manning, without hesitation.
If the choice is Peyton Manning or John Elway then the waters get a lot muddier, and it appears that may be the sort of decision that Colts could face come April.