Perception is a funny thing.
In regards to the NFL, we generally perceive that Peyton Manning is an elite quarterback who has what it takes to lead his team to Super Bowls and is going to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer as soon as his career is finished.
That same sense of perception also leads many of us to think that Andrew Luck is an inexperienced rookie on a terrible team that is years away from contending.
However, if you step back and look at the numbers, these two men—13 years apart in age—aren’t all that different. In fact, they are exactly the same in some respects.
Here's a number for you: 2,404. That’s how many yards that Manning has thrown for during the 2012 NFL season. It's also how many yards that Luck has thrown for during the 2012 NFL season.
Do you believe Luck is truly that far off from joining the elite quarterback discussion now? We certainly don’t.
The next argument is how Manning is besting the rookie signal-caller in completion percentage and touchdowns while throwing fewer interceptions. That might be true, and all of those extra stats have helped lead the Denver Broncos to a respectable 5-3 record going into Week 10.
It just so happens that the Indianapolis Colts have that same respectable 5-3 record going into Week 10, largely due to the incredible arm of their young QB.
The Colts are just seven weeks away from making an improbable—downright unrealistic in the preseason—playoff appearance, and Luck deserves every bit of credit for the turnaround of a team that won two games in 2011.
When will Andrew Luck become an "elite" QB?
As a No. 1 overall pick, Luck was expected to become an elite QB, but not this quickly. The former Stanford standout has shown poise beyond his years, great skills in the pocket—and also the ability to work successfully outside of it—and has silenced all doubters of his arm.
If he can continue to put up insane numbers—such as his 30-of-48, 433-yard, two-touchdown Week 9 performance vs. Miami—and win games, Luck is going to be a postseason regular and spoken about in the same sentences as Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Manning and more, and sooner than later at that.
Don't sleep on Luck being perceived as a top NFL signal-caller by the end of the 2012 campaign.