Andrew Luck: Spectacular Rookie Season Doesn't Make Colts QB Elite

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 04: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 23-20. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Take a look at the passing leaders in the NFL and you'll see that the football gods are having a blast in 2012, as 23-year-old Andrew Luck and the icon he's replacing in Indianapolis, 36-year-old Peyton Manning, have each thrown for exactly 2,404 yards through the first nine weeks of the NFL season.

Peyton might have twice as many touchdowns, but it's certainly ironic to see them with exactly the same yardage on the season.

Luck's 433 yards passing last week against the Miami Dolphins set a new NFL record for a rookie, and as longtime Colts beat writer Mike Chappell notes, Luck was already rewriting the record books well before Week 9:

#colts andrew luck 1st rookie QB with 1,500 passing yards, 3 wins in team's first six games in NFL history.#col

— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) October 22, 2012

He is on pace to throw for more than 4,400 yards in his rookie season, shattering the record of 4,051 set by embattled Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton last year.

It's all impressive, and Luck is proving that he was, without question, worthy of being the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

But none of this makes him an elite quarterback.

Rick Mirer set multiple records for rookie quarterbacks with the Seattle Seahawks in 1993, including most completions (274), attempts (486) and yards (2,833), a season that would be the highlight of his career.

He'd be out of the league by 1998, and he'd play in only 18 more games from 1999 through 2003.

I'm not saying that Luck is going to be Rick Mirer, because he's not. Luck is far more talented a player than Mirer ever was, but the point is that no matter how prolific a rookie season someone has, they need to do it again, year after year, before they are considered to be elite.

Eli Manning was chastised for saying that he was an elite quarterback back in 2011, his seventh year in the league and with a Super Bowl ring and MVP award to his name (h/t Sporting News).

Nobody questions that statement today.

Could Andrew Luck become an elite quarterback in the NFL? Absolutely.

Will be become an elite quarterback in the NFL? Probably.

But let's hold off on the coronation ceremony for the NFL's new king for a bit.

Those who came before him aren't quite ready to accept new members into that exclusive club.