Andrew Luck: Breaking Down His Prospects as an NFL QB

Ryan FallerAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2011

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was nearly perfect in the second half of the Cardinal's 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was nearly perfect in the second half of the Cardinal's 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Andrew Luck will make a damn fine quarterback in the NFL.

At least that’s what his head coach thinks.

"I'm absolutely convinced he'll make it in the NFL,'' Jim Harbaugh gushed to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King recently, prior to the dominant performance by Luck in Stanford’s Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech.

"He's got no negatives. He's athletic—he'll run the 40 in the high 4.5s. He's instinctive. He's accurate. He's got great touch on the ball. He throws lasers when he wants to. I think he's got a photographic memory, though he doesn't think so. And he's the anti-celebrity quarterback. He'll be perfect for the NFL.''

Harbaugh forgot to include that Luck is equally effective in the pocket and on the run, is physically and mentally tough and carries out the play-action fake better than any quarterback in college football.

In all seriousness, that’s lofty praise from someone who started 140 games over an NFL career that spanned 15 seasons. But Harbaugh isn’t alone in his favorable assessment, nor is he the only member of the Stanford staff that believes the future is bright for Luck.

Count defensive coordinator Vic Fangio among those impressed.

"Oh, I definitely think when the time comes, when he deems the time to come out, he's got a great future ahead of himself in the NFL,” Fangio said of Luck, who has until Jan. 15 to decide whether he will enter the draft. “He's got good size, got good athletic ability, and then I think most importantly as a quarterback position he's got great intangibles.”

Ah, yes, the intangibles—those things which we cannot see that make a quarterback great.

Beyond being a prototypical quarterback specimen at 6’4” and 235 pounds, Luck’s football acumen is outdone only by his general intelligence. He’s as smart as a whip. According to Harbaugh, Luck has a 3.5 grade-point average in Stanford’s architectural engineering program—not exactly leisure studies at the local community college.

But even more, Luck is a leader, perhaps a trait NFL scouts covet tenfold over arm strength, height or any other physical attribute.

Case in point: His team up a point at halftime of the Orange Bowl—a lead that could have been significantly larger if not for some poor decisions that led to a safety and an interception—Luck led the Cardinal to a second-half onslaught that effectively buried the Hokies, throwing three touchdown passes that covered 38 yards or more and misfiring on only two passes over the game’s final 30 minutes.

For the night, Luck, a redshirt sophomore, was 18-of-23 for 287 yards and four touchdowns.

It was, for lack of a better description, an NFL performance that belied Luck’s physical prowess and highlighted his ability to withstand adversity.

After the victory, Stanford’s first in a bowl game in 14 years, Harbaugh metaphorically summed up the heroics of his quarterback, whose overall skill set will benefit an NFL team every bit as much as it has the Cardinal, whenever Luck decides to end his college career.

"Andrew Luck is the straw that stirs the drink around here," Harbaugh said.

And that’s why NFL teams are filling their glasses to the brim as we speak.