We need to go back to the year before I was born to find a safer prospect coming from the college ranks to catch the eye of teams who will be selecting in the NFL draft. In that highly vaunted draft class of 1983, gems were littered throughout. A Pro-Bowler was selected in all 12 rounds to go along with seven future Hall-of-Fame players. These players all surrounded the prized crown jewel, a Stanford Quarterback named John Elway.
Being selected #1 overall in a draft loaded at every position speaks volumes of the talent of that player. There have been years that the draft wasn't particularly deep and the #1 overall player drew lukewarm reviews from scouts and talent executives. Matthew Stafford and the 2009 NFL draft come to mind, along with Cam Newton and last year's draft class.
The 2012 NFL draft class is not projected to be like those drafts. It will be an extremely deep class that defines the course of many organizations for the next decade or more. This is why the player at the top of this draft is such an important selection.
With so much value on the board, a team (the Indianapolis Colts) must make the right decision and select the perfect player to kick things off on the night of Thursday April 26th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Mel Kiper wasn't the ESPN network figurehead in 1983 that he is today, but his opinion of Elway still makes headlines. Kiper is on record saying that "If God wanted to create the perfect quarterback, it'd be John Elway."
After spending about 24 months scouting this player myself, that's how I, along with many others feel about another Stanford signal caller—Andrew Luck.
With the evolution of the Internet, network television, and the information age, NFL Draft prospects are scrutinized with a fine tooth comb in an unprecedented nature. This process becomes more critical each year, and rarely does a player come along that has no perceived weaknesses in their makeup or physical tools.
Andrew Luck is one of those rare cases—and he's not just the type of player who comes along once a decade. If you live to be 100 and you're still of sound mind in your old age, you might be able to recount this type of player three or four times over the course of your long life.
Luck has been the projected No. 1-overall pick for two years, and while I watched a lot of him in 2010 at Stanford, I made sure to be able to catch him each and every Saturday this past fall to see if I felt the same way that so many experts did about the kid.
I saw no weaknesses in his physical game and there was no throw he couldn't make. However, there have been many players about whom the same sentiments were expressed who ended up flopping out in the NFL—just ask Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf. It's important to analyze a player's mental makeup and work ethic beyond just knowing that he can make any throw on the grid when the weekend rolls around.
This area of Luck's game might be his forte. Luck possesses the mental intangibles you want in a guy that will be the main focus on your roster for the next 12-to-15 seasons. Often times it's overstated that a Quarterback is 'a leader'. This is perhaps a rare case in which that it not so. When he came to the line, Luck was the only player under center in the nation to call all of his own plays in 2012.
Physically and mentally, there's nothing you can find to discredit Andrew Luck, making him the only player since John Elway circa 1983 to rightfully warrant the hype.
His success will depend on a lot more than just the control he exerts with his hands (the Colts will need to surround him with a nice mix of talent and Mike Ditka-esque 'Grabowskis'), but the same assessment exists with every Quarterback coming out of college. At the very least, I would place Andrew Luck's floor at the skill level as Eli Manning and his ceiling at something that we've never even seen in our lifetime.
Luck brings a franchise the opportunity of respectability for the next 15 years with several Super Bowl runs mixed in, stretched across several eras and roster transformations. Barring injury, this is a future Hall-of-Fame player and ten-time Pro-Bowler.
The NFL has become a public spectacle, and I'm excited to find out who Andrew Luck is at the next level. As time goes on, I believe things are going to be very similar to how they have been when trying to find a flaw in Luck over the course of his collegiate career. Andrew Luck's place in this game will be that of a rare gem—just like John Elway in 1983.