NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Andrew Luck (R) from Stanford holds up a jersey stage after Luck was selected #1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking position by position at the current talent on the Indianapolis Colts' roster and previewing the battles that may take place in training camp. Today we look at the quarterbacks.
For years, the quarterback section of position by position looks could be summed up in two words: "Peyton Manning". That was all that needed to be said, and everyone understood what it meant - that the Colts were set at quarterback. The position was always the easiest one to evaluate for the Colts.
Now, however, Peyton Manning is gone. Andrew Luck is the new quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. Not only will he have to live up to being the first overall pick and being called the best prospect since John Elway, but he will have to replace one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history.
If anybody is up to the task, however, it is Andrew Luck.
But hold off of any high hopes for Luck this year. Do not expect him to be a pro bowler, to lead the Colts to the playoffs, or to put up Peyton-like numbers. He is, after all, only a rookie. For everything that has been said about Luck, we must understand that he has yet to play his first game. He will make some plays that completely blow us away, but he will also make plays that cause us to long for the days of Curtis Painter (ok, no he won't, but you get the point).
We all know about Andrew Luck, but when looking at each position depth must also be examined. If Andrew Luck gets hurt, who will take over? The Colts cannot just assume that Luck will stay healthy, after all that is what ultimately cost Bill Polian his job.
Currently, the Colts have four other quarterbacks on their 90-man roster. Rookies Chandler Harnish and David Legree, sixth-year veteran Drew Stanton, and one-year veteran Trevor Vittatoe join Luck on the roster (Luck is not technically on the Colts' official roster yet, but he will be soon enough once he signs).
The only guy with much experience is Drew Stanton, whom the Colts acquired in a trade with the New York Jets for basically nothing (the Colts got Stanton and a 7th-round draft pick in 2012 in exchange for a 6th-round pick in 2012). Stanton has started four games in his career and thrown five touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Harnish is an Indiana kid and was drafted in the 7th round of the draft by the Colts (he was Mr. Irrelevant), but is not guaranteed of a roster spot.
Legree was signed as a free agent following the release of tight end Brody Eldridge. Vittatoe was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent last offseason, but was released before the start of the season. He has the honor of being the quarterback who took Peyton Manning's spot on the roster, as he was signed just one day after the release of the legendary QB.
It goes without saying, but Andrew Luck will obviously make the final 53-man roster. The real battle to watch is who will make the roster and be the one to backup Luck. I think the Colts are likely to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, and my initial guess would be Stanton and Harnish. It seems pretty likely that those two, along with Luck, will be the quarterbacks on the Colts' roster, but you never know what will happen in training camp.
Ultimately, the quarterback position will be evaluated based on just one player: Andrew Luck.
And in a few years, that may be all we need to define the position - just the words "Andrew Luck".
PROJECTED STARTER: Andrew Luck
BATTLING FOR STARTING SPOT: --
BATTLING FOR A ROSTER SPOT: Drew Stanton, Chandler Harnish,
David Legree, Trevor Vittatoe
[UPDATE]: The Colts have released David Legree and replaced his spot on the roster with running back Mewelde Moore. The move leaves just Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton, Chandler Harnish, and Trevor Vittatoe as the quarterbacks on the Colts' roster.
[UPDATE 2]: A day after releasing David Legree the Colts have also released Trevor Vittatoe. The move leaves only Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton, and Chandler Harnish as the quarterbacks on the roster. It will be interesting to see whether the Colts decide to add another arm for training camp or if they instead give added reps to the three players they currently have.