GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal walks out onto the field against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
If you haven't heard yet, the guys upstairs for the Colts have leaked that their selection in this April's draft will almost definitely be Andrew Luck. Surprise, surprise, they're picking the best QB prospect to enter the draft since Peyton was wearing orange. Nothing to see here folks, once the Colts dropped their fifth or sixth in a row, we all knew this day might be coming, might as well accept it, Andrew Luck will be a Colt in 2012. So what's that mean for the rest of the AFC and, more importantly, the Titans?
Well from where I'm standing, absolutely nothing.
Only a sith deals in absolutes. Andrew Luck is not yet an NFL superstar. At this point, we have every reason in the world to be more impressed with our very own young quarterback entrusted with guiding the franchise through the next 12-15 years. More to come about him later, right now let's focus on Luck. No doubt he is extremely talented. If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was watching a young Peyton Manning play against Oklahoma State last week. A few months ago, I couldn't find a problem with the guy. Well, he looks like the cookie monster, but other than that, he seemed pretty much invincible. I've heard he has a slightly awkward throwing motion, but I'm gonna be honest here, I don't have nearly a good enough grasp on that kind of thing to be a judge. Then, I finally sat down to watch one of his games. Naturally, I checked in to the open thread to see what was going on over here and something in the conversation in that open thread began to raise my suspicions. I've always had a nagging idea that Luck's been playing in an easy system. What that means is that Stanford really never asks him to do a whole lot; his throws just don't need to travel all that far and a lot of his touchdowns come from receivers finding a gap in the zone and running the rest of the way.
That's not at all to say he can't make advanced, NFL caliber throws, we've all seen him do it at one point or another, but I think the Peyton Manning comparisons should simmer down for a little bit. Peyton was throwing it all over the field all the time for UT. Talk about a small sample size, but Manning attempted almost 75 more passes in his senior season than Luck. It's a reach, but when you're picking this guy to be the best thing around you can never be too meticulous. The number of attempts isn't the important, what's important is that maybe Luck's completion percentage (and it is ludicrously high) has been inflated by a system that doesn't force him to make tough throws, instead encouraging the short, 15 yard or less routes. I can see why they'd do it, too. While he doesn't throw a bad deep ball per se, it sometimes leaves a little to be desired when he winds up to throw it 40+ yards. That may seem kind of trifling, but hey, that might really hurt him in the long run once he gets to Indy.
The bigger point I'm trying to make is that there are no sure things, even with a prospect as technically sound as Luck. Heaven forbid he suffers some career-threatening injury, but the possibility is always out there. Then there's the more friendly route of maybe he's just not that good. I don't know how his skill set wouldn't translate to the NFL, but it's always possible I guess.
In any case, Andrew Luck would still have to be Peyton Manning-in-his-prime good for the Colts to reach the same level they were on in 2010 before Manning's neck exploded. I understand how good of a prospect he's supposed to be, but Manning might just be the best NFL player of all time. Don't give me any of this "just one Super Bowl" crap, he's earned the right to at least be in the conversation for G.O.A.T. Basically, Luck has to be the best quarterback ever to make this team good again. While his hype machine certainly makes it look possible, I'll take those odds. Third, and maybe most importantly, the Titans have their own impressive prospect waiting in the wings. If you thought Tim Tebow was impressive out there (you probably didn't), be ready to be floored because Jake Locker is Tebow tenfold. The upside on him is ridiculous and from what he's shown us, he's lightyears ahead of where Blaine Gabbert is right now (whether that says more about Gabbert or Locker is for you to decide). Dual threat QB's are becoming a thing again people, get ready for Locker, Griffin III and Newton to flip everything on its' axis.
Can anyone else picture Locker v. Luck becoming the must-see TV event of the year? I sure can. And to be honest, I think it's going to be a lot closer than people think. Luck is as close to a sure thing as they come. Too bad for Indy that's still a far cry from a guarantee.