Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck may give himself just an "average" grade through eight games in his NFL career, but there's no doubting that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft has been an A+ rookie quarterback this season.
Arguably the top quarterback coming out of the college ranks since Peyton Manning, Luck has been everything scouts and analysts thought he'd be and more.
Luck, the harsh critic he obviously is, gave himself a much more conservative grade after his rookie-record 433 passing yards Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
"A 'C' is average, so I think I'd give myself a 'C'," Luck told the Associated Press when asked for a grade (via ESPN).
Nothing about the start to Luck's NFL career screams a "C" grade, or anywhere close to it.
The baseline stats—56.5 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 79.0 passer rating—certainly don't jump off the page, but the surface numbers don't tell the whole story.
Using ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating (QBR), a measure that tallies a numbers of factors, Luck has been the NFL's fourth-best quarterback this season. His 76.1 mark trails only Matt Ryan (78.2), Tom Brady (79.2) and Peyton Manning (85.4) and is actually better than those of Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning.
Long story short, QBR uses a combination of throws in context, win probability, expected points, protection and clutch ratings. Using these factors, Luck currently leads the NFL in expected points added from scrambling/running and penalties.
Even if you don't totally buy into ESPN's QBR measure, Luck's name being included puts him in and above elite company.
Stats aren't the only thing being provided by Luck either. Wins, maybe the most important measure, have also followed.
The Colts have won five games—already three more than the 2011 Colts managed—and Indianapolis is currently sitting in the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff hunt. Even with Luck on board, few saw a big improvement in wins for the Colts in 2012.
Among Luck's wins are dramatic, late-game victories over the Green Bay Packers (comeback from 18 points down), Minnesota Vikings (led Colts into field-goal range with under a minute left) and Tennessee Titans (overtime game-winner).
Stats and wins are big slices, but how Luck has translated his skill set to the professional level is maybe the most encouraging sign for both his NFL future and the Colts' chances down the road.
Working behind a makeshift offensive line, throwing to no-namers besides veteran Reggie Wayne and possessing little threat in the offensive backfield, Luck has thrived with an advanced, mature set of quarterbacking skills.
His mobility has saved the Colts from countless sacks, he's the NFL's most productive downfield passer and nothing mentally has been too much for him to handle early on.
Luck hasn't been perfect, and there's no doubt his "C" grade reflects on the areas he thinks need improvement. But in terms of rookie quarterbacks, Luck is starting to establish a new standard.
The stats, wins and advanced skill set add up to an A+ grade for Luck through eight games of his rookie season.