GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal warms up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Yes, I know what NFL Network's Mike Mayock said yesterday about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. I respect Mayock. He does a great job covering the draft.
In the case of Andrew Luck, I don't think anyone truly believes he is a 'once in a lifetime' prospect. Is he the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since John Elway, who entered the draft back in 1984? Yes.
Is he the most talented? No, and that's pretty much what Mayock was saying. In terms of physical talent, Cam Newton is far more superior than Luck. Newton is bigger, stronger, faster, and probably throws the football farther.
However, almost everyone who scouts and grades talent is saying Luck is a better prospect than Newton, and it's for reasons that go beyond physical ability.
You could even make the argument that Robert Griffin III is more talented. When both men are clocked at the Combine and-or their Pro Days, Griffin is likely to run faster. He certainly has more elusiveness, and he might have a stronger arm. From a physical talent standpoint, where Luck has an advantage over Griffin is that he is physically bigger (6'4, 235 pounds compared to 6'2, 220 pounds).
For perspective, Luck is as big and strong as Tim Tebow. Luck can also throw a football. Tebow can't.
Griffin's short height and slight weight likely contributed to his injury history at Baylor, and it should raise a few flags for anyone wanting to draft him. Personally, I don't think these flags are anything major. I consider Griffin a lock at the No. 2 overall pick (some team will trade up with St. Louis for him), but Griffin only played three games in 2009 due to an ACL injury, and he sustained a concussion in Baylor's win over Texas Tech last year.
I've spent a lot of time in recent weeks watching tape on Luck, and while I am not a scout or a talent expert on par with someone like Mayock, I've seen Luck make throws and plays that, quite frankly, Sam Bradford didn't in college. Luck also had a strong, Manning-like command of his offense at Stanford.
So, to go back to Mayock's actual comment, which was to compare Luck's talent level to Bradford's, that might not be completely accurate, but it's not as far off as some would think. Arm strength looks about the same. Luck moves better in the pocket than Bradford, and has a better sense of how to get rid of the ball when pressure gets near him.
However, that's not 'talent.' That's just playing the position really well. Michael Vick was far and away more talented than Peyton Manning, but Vick couldn't hold Manning's jock when both were playing at a high level. So much that goes into playing quarterback is brains, temperament, and the ability to process information quickly.
Physical talent means nothing if you don't have skills in those three areas. Just ask JaMarcus Russell.