Much was discussed last week regarding Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and his comments regarding Andrew Luck. In fairness to Mayock, the question posed to him that solicited the comment was what kind of quarterback should a club build around right now? The person who asked the question (names were not listed in the transcript) cited Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Andrew Luck, with Luck being referred to as a "once in a generation" prospect.
Here are Mayock's actual words, via NFL Communications, in response to that question (emphasis mine):
When you throw Andrew Luck into that grouping, I think he falls from an intellect with passion for the game of football, somewhere in that kind of Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan mold. That's how much the kid loves it.
As far as ability, I don't think he's quite in the Peyton Manning mold, but I think he's close. I think he's got a little more ability than Matt Ryan did when he came out. But I don't put him up there as a once-in-a-lifetime guy. I've never said that about him.I think he's in that same category with a Bradford and that kind of guy that came out as a top pick. But I'm not sitting here trying to tell I think he's going to beat Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.
Nothing really earth-shattering about these comments, except that Mayock doesn't view Luck as a "once in a generation" type quarterback. This runs counter to just about everything that everyone has written about Luck. Fair or not, the expectation is that he must become the next John Elway or Peyton Manning, and if he doesn't, he'll be a disappointment.
Hey, this is football, people. Not bridge or shuffle board. Fair has nothing to do with anything. People either meet their expectations, or they fail. This is a game of absolutism. If you want subtly or nuance, watch baseball, cricket, or figure skating.
For me, it isn't Mayock's downgrading of Luck that I find interesting. It's his apparent lack of... I don't know, context, maybe. He's comparing Andrew Luck with Sam Bradford, a player who lacks many of Luck's physical abilities. Bradford is more injury prone, and he never ran an offense at Oklahoma that was anything close to the pro-style offense Luck controlled at Stanford.
So, I don't get it. I'm even further confused by Mayock's answer to a follow-up question on Luck and his abilities:
Q. Would you take [Luck] over Cam?
MIKE MAYOCK: I would probably take him over Cam, yes.
Cam Newton is viewed by just about everyone as the new generation of quarterback. His physical abilities are off the chart. He's big, strong, fast, and (shockingly) can throw a tight spiral from the pocket. At this point, right now, everyone in the NFL would take Cam Newton over Sam Bradford.
Yes, even the Rams.
Yet, Andrew Luck (who Mayock compares to Bradford) is a prospect he'd select over Cam Newton, the same Cam Newton that just shattered several rookie quarterback records?
Perhaps Mayock's comments were a way of taking pressure off Luck. Mayock is well-respected, and if he thinks Luck isn't the next Elway or Manning, that might, in theory, lesson the burden on the Stanford QB. That's a nice thought, but things don't work that way. If there is any doubt that Luck cannot become the next great quarterback, then all that does is open up the possibility of Robert Griffin III being drafted No. 1 overall.
Like it or not, that is the great debate of this draft: Who is the next great quarterback? The conventional Andrew Luck, or the unconventional Robert Griffin III. Luck is viewed as the safe, pocket-passer type (even though he is very mobile), while RG3 is viewed more in line with Newton.
And no, it's not because he is black. It's because, like Newton and Michael Vick, RG3 scares defenses with his arm and his legs.
Personally, I don't think these views are fair or, for that matter, correct. RG3 is not as big as Cam Newton, and thus cannot absorb the types of hits Newton received his rookie year. Comparing him to Vick is also silly. Vick is a model of inconsistency, and often relies too much of his physical abilities. Great quarterbacking is 90% mental, 10% ability. Tom Brady (6th round, 2000) is living proof of that.
Thus, at the end of the day, I still don't know what to make of Mayock's comments. What I do know is that Luck is still considered a "once in a generation" prospect, and if he does not live up to that billing, he will be considered a disappointment.