I'm not one for intentionally rabble-rousing statements. I cringe whenever Skip Bayless appears, uninvited, on my TV screen––rushing to change the channel before his toxic spew radiates into my ears. I'm just like the rest of you, so believe me when I say this isn't just for attention.
At first it sounds a tad quixotic. I know. But take some time to really think about it. All it really means is that Luck, lauded as the best rookie prospect since 1998, is roughly in the top third of starters at his position.
In fact, according to Rotoworld.com, I'm not even the first to make these claims: Ron Jaworski echoed the sentiments on a recent iteration of Sportscenter.
And yet, I can't envision a scenario where my position is a popular one or, at best, respectfully disagreed with in the comment section below.
Here's my case. Go ahead and scour the league for the best quarterbacks. When you're done, you'll have only found five guys who absolutely have to be put ahead of Luck (in alphabetical order):
1. Tom Brady
2. Drew Brees
3. Eli Manning
All of the above are (a) coming off complete, impressive seasons, and (b) have Super Bowl rings in their jewelry box. Andrew Luck's dad wouldn't put him on that list right now.
But after that, the list of great NFL quarterbacks devolves into a massive clump––a secondary tier where every candidate has very real, very significant flaws.
That list would include (in alphabetical order):
1. Jay Cutler
2. Joe Flacco
4. Cam Newton
6. Tony Romo
7. Matt Ryan
8. Matt Schaub
9. Matt Stafford
10. Michael Vick
So, in order to place as a top-10 NFL quarterback, Luck just needs to finish in the top half of that index. Top five on a list with four, count 'em four of the biggest injury risks in the entire league (Manning, Schaub, Stafford and Vick).
Is it really that hard to believe he'll do that this season?
I understand the "He's never proven himself in a real NFL game" argument, really I do. But the NFL preseason is the closest thing we have to a real NFL game (certainly closer than college), and if that's the case, he's done nearly all the proving I need to see. The sample size is admittedly small, but when it's used to supplement his impressive sample from college, it forms a conclusive dossier of greatness.
There's also the antiquated argument about rookie QBs not being able to compete in the NFL. Have you guys been watching the past few years? Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford have all excelled in their debut seasons. Heck, even the rookie version of Tim Tebow showed some promise!
The draft process is changing, becoming more rigorous than ever––a fact that's especially true for young QBs. They go through trials and tribulations during their recruitment which prepare them more and more for the rigors of the NFL. How else can you explain the five rookie's slated to start Week 1 this year?
And in this new era of impeccably prepared quarterbacks, Luck is praised indisputably as the most prepared specimen. His size, his strength, his speed, his mind, his accuracy, even his perpetual smile––it's all perfect. It's like he was created in a lab.
So yes, it may sound incendiary to call Luck a top-10 quarterback before his regular season debut. And yes, if for some reason he fails, I will look back on this article and feel like a rambling dolt.
But if he succeeds—nay, when he succeeds—you're gonna hear me hollering I told you so from miles away.