As fascinating as statistical comparisons are between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck—particularly how eerily similar some of the parallels are—they are simply unfair to the Denver Broncos quarterback.
Luck is already an emerging star as the No. 1 overall pick, and among the crazy similarities between the numbers, ESPN's Adam Schefter documented one of the strangest coincidences:
Peyton Manning's passing yards this season: 2,404. Andrew Luck's passing yards this season: 2,404. Broncos 5-3, Colts 5-3.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 5, 2012
Yep, the two have thrown for the exact same amount of yards in 2012. That's a fine comparison to make, since it's obviously taken Luck more attempts to get there with a lesser understanding of the game and a lesser supporting cast at his disposal.
But to argue that Luck has done more with less than Manning did in his first year with the Indianapolis Colts is ridiculous. It may be true to an extent, but it's more indicative of the times than anything.
Quarterbacks are so much more NFL-ready than they used to be when Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 draft. Manning's adjustment period was short when compared to many of those before him and in the few years surrounding him.
Take the year immediately following Manning as a prime example: Tim Couch at No. 1 overall, Akili Smith at No. 3 and Cade McNown at 12th overall.
Sandwiched in there was also Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper, but those aforementioned three completely fell on their faces.
Heck, it took Peyton's kid brother Eli three and a half seasons to adjust to life under center in the NFL.
As amazing as Luck has been, he has had much better tutelage. He came from the University of Stanford, where he learned the position under former Indianapolis Colts QB Jim Harbaugh.
Luck's current coach, Bruce Arians, was the man who helped get Manning's pro career off the ground once upon a time in Indianapolis.
There are some similarities in how these quarterbacks are being groomed, but it's important to realize how well the very recent history of first-round QBs have fared.
The past five drafts have brought in Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden.
While the jury is still out on many of them, it is clear that all were ready to make some sort of impact on the league from Day 1. The vast majority of them have had exceptional success already, which wasn't the case when Manning was coming out of the draft.
By the standards set by recent highly touted QBs, Manning may have been benched before he got a chance to become a legend.
Passing numbers are higher than ever, training regimens continue to improve and Luck is simply a different physical being than Manning. He is a meaty, 6'4" 234-pound tank who can run deceptively fast in addition to being an outstanding pocket passer.
These two will always be compared over the long term, but to break down the rookie year of Manning against the rookie year Luck is having is irresponsible. Luck is just getting started, and he is way ahead of the curve Manning was learning at in 1998.
That's scary to think about—that Luck has so much more room to grow. But to even approach Manning's level of greatness, he has a long way to go.
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