Luck still figures to go No. 1 in NFL draft

Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is bigger, more experienced in an NFL offense and considered the most sure pick since, well, the guy he’ll be replacing. It’s why the chance of him going anywhere but first overall is a major longshot.

Robert Griffin III (one inch shorter and 12 pounds lighter) is considered by some to have greater potential. But Luck’s body of work in college outshines everyone else.

“Luck is as sure a bet as Peyton Manning was,” one longtime NFL general manager said. “I don’t see any real downside or miss on him. There’s no comparison. You don’t always see a guy like Luck.”

Another longtime evaluator said he hasn’t talked to anyone that gives him an indication that Luck will fall to No. 2. For him, Luck’s size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) and college system – a pro-style vs. the spread attack operated by Griffin -- makes the difference.

The GM said that’s enough of a difference to go with Luck.

“When Griffin gets in the league there will be a lot of uncertainty for him, that won’t be the case for Luck,” he said.

And when you’re trying to decide between 1 and 2, that’s enough of a difference. Perhaps that’s why I have yet to talk to anyone who thinks the Colts will take anyone other than Luck. (Doesn’t mean they can’t change their minds, of course, but it would still be surprising).

Pro Football Weekly’s NFL draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki said “there is a considerable gap. Andrew is the most polished QB to come out in a long time. Griffin’s ceiling his higher … but there is higher risk with the pick. I think the Colts made up their mind months ago.”

Others aren’t so sure the gap between the top two is that big. Between these two and the rest of the quarterbacks? It’s big. Also, both of the top quarterbacks would fit in either team’s scheme. Here’s what Doug Farrar of Pro Football Outsiders and Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner wrote about Colts’offensive coordinator Bruce Arians:

“New Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was known for his multiple spread-style formations in Pittsburgh, and that's a great match for Griffin, who played an advanced three-digit, multi-read spread offense at Baylor. Given Luck's impressive ability to run and throw from play action and boot action from all angles in his Palo Alto workout, he seemed like the ideal Mike Shanahan quarterback -- in fact, I thought he looked a lot like Steve Young, who Shanahan coached from 1992 through 1994 as the San Francisco 49ers' offensive assistant.”

Even experts, such as ex-scout Russ Lande who rates Griffin ahead of Luck, say the Colts will take Luck.

“It’s still the minority [who think Griffin is better],” Lande said. “The NFL in general, they always feel more comfortable when a guy has played in an NFL offense because it’s easier to project the skills and see what he has to do. But most people that evaluate skills say we’re not talking about a big difference [between the two].

“But knowing how smart Griffin is, he’ll pick up an NFL offense easily. I would say by the end of his rookie season they’re on the same footing and if they’re on the same footing I bet on Griffin.”

To be clear, the longtime GM liked Griffin a lot but he had more questions about him than with Luck – from scheme to durability to accuracy on intermediate throws (and he’s not talking completion percentage).Also, the fact that Luck played at a high level for three seasons trumps Griffin doing it for one. But in comparing the two he just liked Luck more. Luck plays with a maturity beyond most college QBs, with the way he moves safeties with his eyes and calls plays at the line, for example. Griffin can get to that point; Luck is there. This source did not think Griffin was as good a prospect as Cam Newton, but that Luck was better.

Teams throw curves all the time and can hide intentions by not working out players you are sold on (the Colts have no visit scheduled with Griffin). But the team picking first has no reason to play games with other teams. And if RG3 is not scheduled for a workout, then …


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