During the preseason, many people expected the Indianapolis Colts to finish near the bottom of the pack in the NFL. After getting blown out 35-9 by the New York Jets in Week 6, the Colts sat at 2-3 and were looking like they could spiral into futility.
But four games and four consecutive wins later, the Colts look ready to make a serious playoff run. The biggest reason for their success is quarterback Andrew Luck, who, only nine games into his NFL career, has already proven that he's one of the best at his position in the entire NFL.
Besides the obvious fact that he's led a supposedly weak team to a 6-3 record, Luck has the individual stats to back this up.
Last week, he threw for an NFL rookie single-game record 433 yards in a win over the Miami Dolphins. He has thrown for 2,631 yards and 10 touchdowns this season (along with 159 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns).
Luck has already taken control and gained the respect of his teammates, which is rare for such a young quarterback.
At 6'4", 234 pounds, Luck has the size to outmuscle defenders. But he also has tremendous footwork in the pocket and is deceptively quick, making him tough to bring down and lethal on bootlegs.
Luck has an impressive combination of arm strength and accuracy, allowing him to make any throw his coaches ask. As strong as his arm is, though, his accuracy is what really stands out.
Along with his outstanding anticipation, Luck is able to throw his receivers open instead of waiting for them. He can squeeze balls into a window that is about to open.
Luck can also get the ball over the top of the defense, airing it out and putting it where only his receiver can make a play on it.
Luck is tough, smart, athletic, mature and blessed with a great arm. Some people may keep Luck out of the conversation regarding elite quarterbacks because of his inexperience, but I think he's already shown that he deserves to be mentioned.
There's no denying what he's already done in his first nine games, and his success is definitely no fluke either. Luck is showing why he was the top overall pick, and he is well on the path to becoming the next great quarterback in the NFL.
But even though he's not quite there yet, don't overlook how good Luck already is right now. If you don't have him on your list of best NFL quarterbacks, you don't have the right list.