Much has been said about the Luck versus RG3. About who should go #1, about who will do better in the NFL, etc etc. Unfortunately, much of that debate has gotten not only repetitive and annoying, but also immaterial and inconsequential. I wanted to take just another look at these guys from perhaps a slightly different view. More after the jump.
Firstly, regarding media hype. There's those cynics who have gotten tired of the Luck this and Luck that… and suddenly they're like, well RG3 is the better prospect. He won the Heisman and had ridiculous stats (which btw is why you win the Heisman). He's super fast and athletic with a powerful arm. He's the next Cam Newton. And on and on and on. But for a second, look at the hypocrisy of that argument. Luck was hyped since the end of last year, when he first became a star prospect, and all throughout this year, as everyone wanted to see how the star does in his year back in college. Then RG3 started breaking out and guess who covered his every progress? - the media. And that same source that was once all pro-Luck suddenly has become divided on whether RG3 is the better guy. Once they compared Luck to Manning and Elway and now its actually RG3 who can be the next Elway or Steve Young. Notice the pattern? Look guys, thats how the media works. They "analyze" players and then compare them to legends. All the pro RG3 guys shouldn't be arguing that Luck has gotten all the attention because, in all honesty, RG3 has gotten more media coverage in the months after his blowout season than Luck did over the same period of time after his initial blowout (at the end of last season). Both guys are, in my opinion, being way overhyped. People now cop out trying to find a resolution and they keep saying both guys will be the future of the league.. you can't go wrong either way. That's fine if you're looking for a compromise… but again, neither has played a game yet. Before they become the future of the league, let's wait guys… and stop diving into all the media hype (which I know is impossible to ignore, but let's just be a bit patient)
Now what does set each guy apart? We have heard numerous physical attributes so I don't want to repeat that here.
Both Luck and RG3 are superb students. RG3 has a 3.67 GPA in political science and Luck has a 3.5 in architecture. Which is more impressive? As a student of chemical engineering and math, as well as someone whose taken many anthropology courses, I appreciate both fields. But from an academic standpoint, they're not really comparable. People point to RG3 as having the better GPA… but Luck goes to Stanford. Stanford people! Also Architecture differs from political science in that it is much more applied. You will learn a few physical concepts and then apply them in a million different ways. Whereas in the other field you work to critique and analyze the work of 'great' philosophers. Keep in mind that Stanford did recruit RG3 - the kid is very smart. In fact, both of those, having those type of grades, finishing their degrees, and being stud football players… thats very very impressive.
So both are very smart. Intelligence is not an issue. But if I had to pick one, the choice is Luck… he's majoring in a harder subject and frankly one that is perhaps more related to the football realm (in terms of the problem solving and application).
Much is been made of their two very different personalities. RG3 is the flashy, fun-loving one. Luck is the humble awkward one - the goober. Some have claimed RG3 is not very humble… I don't think that's a good description. For instance at his pro day, RG3 repeatedly expressed how he was confident in his ability and that he hoped he put on a dazzling show. Also he referred to the John Elway under Shanahan era and said he'd love to be that guy. And he said that that fact that the Redskins traded 3 draft picks for him shows that he and they will get along. Cocky much?
But wait.. at the end he was asked about Luck, and he said that Luck would dazzle the scouts just like he hoped he had… What that leads me to conclude is that RG3 is very straightforward. He knows he is good but he works hard to be good. He says it like it is… he understands the ridiculous expectations and has made his goal to achieve that and beyond. But he also admits the greatness of others. That seems very genuine to me, which is what you want in a person and leader. He is also a media favorite because of his creative remarks and sock selection. His boldness will excite the fans.
Luck is the more conservative, shy kid. He makes awkward hand movements and has a slight studder when he talks. But from his pro day interview and others, he is also very confident of his ability. He is also very genuine - excited about the opportunity he has, but more interested in being on the field than answering questions (although to his credit, for such a natural introvert, he has done really well handling the media and understands his duty at the press). He is a very nice kid who always mentions his teammates and defers attention to the team. He is tactful in his responses and humble. Much like Manning… but I highly doubt we'll ever see the great TV commercials or SNL performances from this kid. He's an honest kid too. His kindness will win the heart of fans.
Bottom line, both these guys are high character. Hard to imagine that either ever gets caught in a scandal or does something inappropriate. I don't think I can really pick between them. I personally like the more soft spoken guys who I always view kinda as the the underdog… so perhaps I go with Luck here again. But this is not really a decisive point. Irsay has become quite a polarizing figure so I'm sure he likes RG3's boldness. But Irsay has also been surrounded by the soft spoken guys, so Luck's not any worse either…
This is very important, especially since both these guys are expected to be franchise QBs. Both have gotten the full support of their respective coaching staff and teammates. When no one can fault you, that's very telling.
Over the course of the season, Luck, who projected as the #1 last year over Cam Newton, had to deal with crazy expectations. It is so easy to crack under those lofty expectations. Everyone watching you play, scouts at all the games, the tv announcers never failing to compare you to Elway or Manning, etc etc. Think about that for a second guys… and consider Luck's soft going attitude. He rarely (if ever) boasts about himself… to be that shy kid and have so many expectations. But what does he do? Have another brilliant season, breaking records at Stanford set by Elway, record about 12-2 season, keep Stanford in the top 10 nationally, etc. For all those idiots saying Luck will be a bust…. well he definitely had his chance didn't he? This kid is as sure as can be. And his attitude of just playing, no matter the situation, is what can energize and lead a team. Even after throwing a pick six late in the game versus USC… yes he almost lost his team the game… he kept his team up, led a game tying drive with under 2 to go, and then helped his team win in overtime. That's the type of attitude guaranteed to succeed in the NFL. I've seen Luck play and you can tell the standards he sets on himself are higher than those the media sets on him… but still he perseveres and gets the job done. He is also supportive, even after their kicker missed a 30 yard field goal costing them the bowl game..
RG3 deserves a lot of praise too. The guy electrified fans with his play and won many games all by himself. He never complained about the inordinate role he had in his team as both the primary passer and rusher. The fact that be faced many top 25 teams and was able to compete and win with his, in all honesty, average squad… thats something special. This guy will win games. And he is not only a leader in the field but also off the field, to his teammates and fans. Everyone loves him and as I mentioned earlier, he likes to serve the people by dishing out funny comments and whatnot. Expect this guy to really be on the media a lot - in commercials, SNL, and whatnot.
The fact that both these guys win games by invigorating the rest of their teammates and fans should leave no doubt that they have the qualities of being a franchise QB in the NFL. Will they? I don't know… because personality can only take you so far. But they definitely have it.
People are quick to assume that Luck is the "more polished" product, while RG3 has the "greater upside." And because of that RG3 may be the better pro player later on. What the hell does that even mean? Sometimes in basketball you talk about potential, but that usually involves a guy who is filled with raw athleticism but doesn't really have a grounding on the fundamentals of the sport. But to say these guys are raw is an insult to both.
Both RG3 and Luck are polished in their games. They play differently; Luck prefers throwing in the shotgun, while RG3 has killed defenses by throwing on the run. That is their strengths and trust me, they will continue to play to those strengths in the NFL. Its not as if with guy will grow 5 inches or suddenly develop a new skill that will make them a better QB. The only potential that they can truly improve that is worth a damn is reading NFL defenses - and as I said earlier, both are smart enough to do so. Physically, I don't think either are maxed out - as they throw the football over the next 5 or so years, they're bound to get better touch, velocity, etc - … but don't expect a boatload of change.
I understand that people think Luck is more polished because he essentially put up two back to back seasons with identical stats. But the truth is there was improvement. First the receiving core of Stanford actually was worse that Luck's sophomore year. Also Luck had a greater command on his offense - he added many plays to the playbook on his own and was constantly coaching at the line of scrimmage. His improvement came in his ability to manage a game. We've all seen Manning for many many years… and the thing that set him apart was not his amazing zip on throws or physical ability, but the way he managed a game. Its not easy to learn folks. And btw, Stanford demolished many teams this year. I believe they won by more than 25 in 7 straight games or something. What Luck did between his sophomore and junior season was turn a breakout season into a dominating season.
RG3 also made pronounced improvements. But again, he kinda came a year late to the scene. That's why people are like, OMG he has better potential. I'm telling you guys, if RG3 stayed another year, I doubt he'd be able to top the numbers he had this year. Hell, I don't even think he'd be able to replicate that because defenses would know whats coming and develop better packages to contain the kid. But this is no knock on RG3. He has all the tools to be an elite player and even during the season, you could tell his command of the offense improved.
Both came out of high school as 4 star prospects. They have improved considerably every year. Expect more of the same in the NFL.
So who do you want with your team down 6 with 2 minutes to go?
Isn't this the real question folks? It's not about the stats or the Heismans coming out of college (Manning never won one… neither did Brady), its really which guy can win games for your team. Both these guys can. But the NFL defenses are going to be tricky and much more physical. It'll be hard to adjust. There's a certain calm and security that a QB needs to bring as the time is winding down. A calm that not only assures your own team but scares the opponents. Its why Belichoke decided to go for it on the 4th down because he didn't want to give the ball back to Manning with even seconds left.
Which of these guys will scare NFL defenses? Thats the one bound to have a better career.
Again this is not about how fast you are or the rockets you throw - its about managing a team and dissecting a defense. I personally have to give the edge to Luck on this one. We haven't really heard about RG3 improving the playbook for his offense or calling his own plays, but we have seen Luck do it. I'm not saying RG3 can't, but I don't think he will. He will scare defenses because if the pass is not there, he can bolt out and beat you running. So you have to guard everything. But Luck will take what the defenses give him and beat you slow and steady. Luck is also very smart and utilizes his running backs to open up the play action (something that he is already better at than most NFL QB's).
Now some have stupidly claimed that RG3's physical tools will allow for a deadly, more versatile offense. Give me a break guys. Unless the defenses in the NFL can somehow figure out how to stop Brady and Manning and Rodgers… then to argue that the offensive systems need more spread options of whatnot is ridiculous. Elite QB's can beat you by throwing the short passes and the occasionally long bomb. Guys with RG3's ability are sure to put some fantastic statistics. And btw, I think RG3 will be a better statistical QB than Luck.. pick him on fantasy y'all. But that doesn't mean that our offense needs to be renovated.
And some idiots have said, well the Colts are changing their defense so now's the time to change offense. Really guys? You do realize we're getting bigger and more physical on our offensive line and defense… umm that reminds me of the Stanford system that uses the power running game and play action, doesn't it? Hint hint.
I think I may have come off a little pro-Luck. haha. But RG3, as I have said, can definitely be a good QB once he can read the defense and figure out whether he should throw or run.. quickly figure that out (yes, he holds on to the ball too long!). I think he will do that, but the team he goes to will inevitably have to cater the offense to him early on in his career. Luck is just the safer pick… and by that I don't mean he has any less potential (after all he needs to work on reading defenses as well… expect 20 ints from his next year)… but Luck is just someone who brings the calm and security our team needs. Perhaps not the boldness and excitement. But I was happy watching Manning's rather boring, beat you slowly, style of play for so long (over a exciting team like Brees and the Saints), that I kind of want to continue that tradition.
I wish both these guys all the best. They are true class acts. But obviously, I'll only be rooting for one.