STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 01: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal stands on the sidelines during closing minute of their game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Well, the verdict is in. Sorta, kinda, maybe.
In an excellent, and I mean excellent article from Jason Cole detailing everything Andrew Luck (yes, even his infamous neck beard), there was one small statistic that rings home with what we've heard for months and months.
In a survey of 15 scouts, dating back to the Senior Bowl, 14 of them said that Luck would be their pick at number one overall. And that gasp you hear is from RG3's agent/camp. Not really, but is anyone surprised? To be perfectly honest, while RG3 has certainly made the "battle" for the numbered golden boy status interesting, the race was never really that close.
And no, it's not about the color of his skin or the simple fact that he's very mobile. If anyone makes a judgement from the color of one's skin, I'll be very blunt about my feelings towards them: They're an idiot, a bigot, and simply don't deserve to be considered. I hate to even bring it up, but there is just absolutely no room for any of this. I've seen some despicable comments on a variety of forums and until those go away, it will always be questioned.
When you look past the hype/garbage and get down to brass tacks, it's always about talent evaluation. We've seen what a prototypical "scramble first" quarterback (Cam Newton) can do in this league in the pocket and on the run. RG3 has the ability, the arm, and the brains---graduated with an impressive 3.65 GPA in political science---to be very successful. Maybe even more successful than Newton, Luck, or both combined. So, without trying to steal too much thunder from Matt's upcoming Luck draft profile, let's vaguely break down some of the elements of why he's ultimately preferred:
First off, he's very familiar with a pro-style offense and has some brains of his own (academic All-America). That has been the focal point at Stanford for the last three years. Luck was basically given the reigns to the offense as a RS sophomore, calling audibles at the line to counter defenses. Without a stud wide out and even with the departure of his coach/mentor, Jim Harbaugh, he put up gaudy stats---insane accuracy---by utilizing Stanford's two tight ends, Coby Fleener and Zac Ertz.
Secondly, he's built like a brick you-know-what and is severely underrated in the mobility category. Sitting at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, he's a top-notch physical specimen for the position and can make moves within the pocket that remind you of Aaron Rodgers. If anyone can seemingly take a beating at the next level from NFL quality pass rushers, it'll be Luck. RG3 is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and two seasons removed from a disastrous ACL injury. Thankfully, for the sake of his health and for the sake of college football, RG3 was able to fully recover and prove all of his doubters wrong. This approach might be the factor that pushes him to excel beyond everyone's wildest dreams. If teams see Luck as the better prospect (which he is), then maybe it will only serve as motivation for the Baylor product to prove everyone wrong, once again.
Or maybe he takes a hit and his knee goes kaboom, once again.
Tom Brady demolished his ACL and MCL, only to come back and rarely miss a step. RG3 could go on to lead a long NFL career, injury-free. However, that's a very legit risk that will forever remain with RG3. Is it unfair? Maybe. And I hate to dwell on such. But, when your putting all of your chips on the line with one guy, it's always better to be safe than sorry and Luck is one heck of a "safety net".
Yes. RG3 is very mobile, has a huge arm, and is an Olympic athlete, but that won't always be there to save him in the NFL. He will take brutal hits and only time will tell if he can sustain them.
And just in case some of you are wagging your fingers in disapproval because Luck wears his own knee brace, you can rest easy knowing that it is for preventative purposes. That little habit comes from Jim Harbaugh. Alex Smith wears one. Colin Kaepernick wears one. Not only does it look cool, but it helps provide stability on the quarterback's plant leg and helps prevent trauma when either side of the knee is contacted. Harbaugh wore the same brace throughout college, took it off, but started using it again after a MCL injury.
So, while Andrew Luck might not be the next Peyton Manning and may never win a Super Bowl, he's undoubtedly, the primo pick that has every piece of the puzzle to be very successful at the next level.
Bring on the neck beard.