Indianapolis Colts' rookie quarterback Andrew Luck will be one of just a handful of first-year signal-callers to start the 2012 NFL regular season. But no other rookie passer boasts the strengths that he does.
A finalist for the Heisman Trophy in his final two seasons, Luck single-handedly put Stanford back on the college football map.
As for the NFL, it's only a matter of time before Luck finds success. Sure, he has room to improve, but that won't stop the Colts from throwing him out there.
Here we project the biggest strengths and weaknesses of Luck's game in 2012.
Andrew Luck was highly touted coming out of Stanford because of his poise in the pocket and ability to stand tall in pressure-packed situations. Luck will have to do that repeatedly in 2012, as the Colts will be the underdogs in nearly every game after being the NFL's worst team a season ago.
Luck never seemed to waver late in close games with the Cardinal and has not shown any signs of nervousness this preseason despite having the weight of being drafted first overall on his shoulders. Although he won't turn 23 until September, he has plenty of maturity at a position that demands it.
Throughout his college career, Luck was drilled with big hits and taken to the ground countless times. But each time the 6'4" signal-caller seemed to bounce back up and return to the huddle. That durability will be one of Luck's greatest strengths during his first NFL season.
Luck will certainly take his fair share of hits, and you can bet that they will be much harder and more painful at the NFL level. In addition to the defense bearing down on him, Luck will have to maintain a healthy mind and body for an entire 16-game regular season that stretches from September to January.
Unlike Robert Griffin III, Luck lacks the breakaway speed and acceleration to avoid pass-rushers at the last minute. Luck is an underrated runner and is an excellent athlete. But he will struggle against pressure as a rookie.
The Colt offensive line is suspect and will make time in the pocket tough to come by for Luck. He has taken several hits already during the preseason and been sacked on a handful of occasions. Luck is durable, but with so much pressure bearing down on him, he'll be challenged to hold up for the entire season.
Of course, life as an NFL rookie is never easy, especially when you're playing quarterback. Although rookie signal-callers Cam Newton and Andy Dalton were sensational as newcomers in 2011, it should be noted that they are rare exceptions.
Luck will be a marked man when he takes the field. As the No. 1 overall pick, opposing defense will be gunning for him. Luck's inexperience during his first season will likely result in him being the victim more often than the assassin in 2012.
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