Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass during the 2014 Pro Bowl practice at Kapolei High School. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
When Andrew Luck came to Indianapolis he had some big shoes to fill. To be the successor to the kingdom built by Peyton Manning is no small feat. He was replacing not only a future hall of famer but one of the greatest player to ever throw a football. Many would crumble under the pressure, but not Luck. He has never allowed the comparison to be a big deal. He’s told the media time and time again that you can’t replace a player like Peyton Manning. He has been very humble throughout the transition.
Now the transition is over. Peyton Manning is on his way to his way to the Super Bowl with his new team. Luck has taken a shaky Indianapolis Colts team to the playoffs in his first two seasons and won the division this past season. No more comparisons, at least no more than for any other good quarterback.
Andrew Luck stands apart. He has qualities that make you think of other quarterbacks, but when you watch him play you realize he is a new breed. He joins his young peers with their ability to scramble and throw on the run. We’ve seen more than once where Luck has scored a critical touchdown using his legs. On the other hand, he is the best pocket passer to come out of the draft in a long time. He reminds us of a young Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. His arm strength and accuracy can be like watching a video game some times.
There are many reasons why Andrew Luck looks like he could be one of the greatest to ever play the game. Let’s look at the top three reasons.
Natural Physical Ability
Andrew Luck has more natural physical ability than most quarterbacks out there. He’s one of the best all-around athletes playing the game. His faster and stronger than most starting quarterbacks this season. Just look back at his combine.
The NFL Combine isn’t always the best tool to use to compare physical ability for different reasons. One reason is because not every player goes to combine. It’s difficult to compare against player who never even showed up. There are also others who may not try their best in certain events.
With all of that being said you can still see what many players are capable of and how much raw physical talent they have. Andrew luck was a top performer in multiple categories. His overall combine rating was a 97. His 40 yard dash was a blazing 4.67 seconds. His broad jump was an astounding 124 and 20 yard shuttle was 4.28 seconds.
If that’s not enough to convince you just watch the replay of the Wild Card game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Luck put up Hall of Fame numbers. He threw for 443 yards and ran for 45 yards. He had the longest rush that night for 21 yards and he recovered a fumble from Donald brown and dove into the end-zone with it like superman. His natural ability can take him far.
It takes more than raw physical talent and ability to get into the Hall of Fame and be considered one of the greatest to ever play. You also have to be smart. If you thought this guy was all brawn and no brains, think again. Andrew Luck is not only on of the most gifted athletes in the entire NFL, he is also one of the smartest.
In an interview earlier this year Adam Vinatieri called him “the coolest nerd in America.”
If you listen to any interview with him for more than five minutes you’ll hear vocabulary words that will put you community college English professor to shame.
Andrew Luck went to college at Stanford University. Last year Stanford had one of the lowest acceptance rates. The only college that harder to get into than Stanford was Harvard. Even an athlete can’t be a slouch at Stanford. If that wasn’t enough he entered the Environmental Engineering department and graduated with a degree in architectural design with a 3.48 GPA.
On a resume that looks pretty impressive, but the NFL doesn’t look at a resume for intelligence.
The NFL trusts the infamous Wonderlic test. Luck scored a 37 on this test. That’s not the highest ever but compare it to some other great quarterbacks. Aaron Rogers scored a 35, Tom Brady scored a 33 and Peyton Manning (the “smartest” quarterback ever) only scored a 28.
Combine his phenomenal intelligence with his amazing athletic ability and you’re starting to see why he will be one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Luck clearly has the physical ability and the intelligence, but it takes more than that to be great. To be great there needs to be a competitive spirit and a strong work ethic. This sounds like two different things, but in reality you can’t have one without the other. Each drives the other. This is an area where Andrew Luck can be compared to Peyton Manning. They both have high standards for themselves and for those around them.
Reggie Wayne said, “The way he approaches practice, I hate to do this, but it’s somewhat like a Peyton Manning. Even though I hate to compare the two, he takes practice just like it’s a game… He gets us in and out of the huddle, he tells us to pick it up, he tells the offensive line, ‘Hey, we need to do better here.’ He tells the receivers, ‘I need you to come out a little higher’ or whatever the case may be. So he’s on it.”
This work ethic is something Luck learned early on in life from his father. “When I grew up, my father taught us the value of hard work. He wanted us to enjoy ourselves, but he also wanted to know what it took to be successful.”
This work ethic and competitiveness never lets him rest. He keeps improving. Even when the season is over and they lost the game that mattered, Luck can’t rest. When asked about the loss to the Patriots in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, he said, “It’s good motivation… I know in my mind I got to be able to use that game as a learning tool and say how can I get better from that experience. I don’t think I’m over yet.”
After looking at these three Luck factors, it’s hard to believe that he’ll be anything but great.