While many draftniks have said Jake Locker would have been the No. 1 pick had he entered the 2010 draft, it’s possible that he won’t even be the first quarterback taken in 2011.
Stanford’s star redshirt-sophomore Andrew Luck is atop many early draft boards. Watching Luck last year it was clear that he had a future in the NFL but, admittedly, I spent more time focusing on Toby Gerhart when watching Stanford last season. To get up to speed on Luck, I’ve gone back and watched some video from last season. Here are my thoughts…
- The first thing that stands out is his athleticism. Stanford ran multiple QB-draws last season and Luck executed them to perfection. He’s fast enough to run away from linemen and some linebackers, and big enough that he won’t go down on first contact. I also liked that fact that he’s smart about when to take hits. Young quarterbacks are often shy about sliding, especially those with Luck’s size, but Luck is smart with the football. He’ll take a hit when they need the extra yards, but he’ll slide when its the smart decision.
- Another quality that stands out immediately is his arm strength. Stanford didn’t throw the ball down field a lot, but when they did Luck was able to make all the throws.
- Perhaps the most important quality that impressed me about Luck was his decision making. In this respect he is already well ahead of Jake Locker in his development. Unlike most college quarterbacks, Luck shows the ability to go through his reads and make the right decision. That’s a quality that you simply don’t see in many young quarterbacks at the college level.
- In terms of his development as a passer, I think playing at a school like Stanford is actually a benefit for Luck. He isn’t surrounded by a ton of talent, but he’s still facing quality competition. As a result, his games fairly closely resemble an NFL game – maybe not in terms of speed, but in terms of playing against fair competition which forces him to develop as a decision maker. He’s being tested on a weekly basis, unlike someone such as Sam Bradford who was really only tested three or four times throughout his career.
- Another thing that really stood out was his accuracy. This isn’t something that jumps out at you by looking at his stats – his 56.3 completion percentage is nothing special – but he’s very smart with the placement of his passes. At first I actually though his accuracy on deep passes might be a weakness in his game. But the more I watched, the more I realized that he always put the ball in a position where only his receiver could get to it. His completion percentage on deep passes wasn’t great, but he made very few costly errors. As he develops, his accuracy should only improve.
- After taking a closer look at what Luck did as a freshman, I can’t wait to see his development as a sophomore. He’ll face some new challenges this year as he becomes the focal point of Stanford’s offense. The threat of Gerhart likely caused teams to bring less pressure last season. Without that weapon in the backfield Luck may have less time to make plays. How he responds will determine his ability to transition to the NFL game after the 2010 season.