Tuesday, January 4, 2011
NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Andrew Luck
Historically, I’ve had trouble evaluating QBs. To have trouble assessing those who play the single most important position in all of sports does not bode well for a future in an NFL front office (which is why I’ve transitioned toward baseball). However, the Carolina Panthers’ collective futility and 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft has me revisiting the process of scouting college signal callers because after watching Jimmy Clausen for 5 minutes you know they really need one.
This brings us to Luck, who is first on lots of expert draft boards. I sat down with a couple people to watch him play in the Orange Bowl and make a judgment call on his abilities.
In the Huddle:
Stanford has an extensive playbook. Its depth is such that it necessitates that Luck wear a wrist band with a list of plays on it. In fact, the playbook is so deep that Stanford’s Center has to wear a wristband as well because not all of the plays will fit on just one wristband. Plenty of NFL QBs lean on a similar crutch, and it’s not like they have a full load of classes and extracurriculars on their plate. Luck should have no problem communicating plays to teammates on Sundays.
Stanford uses a lot of pre snap movement, often shifting multiple players at a time. I noticed most of the time Stanford ran the ball post shift, so it is unclear if Luck is using this movement to identify coverages or if it is just a cog to confuse the defense. Either way, the foundation for using motion to identify coverage, a very valuable asset for an NFL QB, is in place.
Virginia Tech rarely played straight man to man. They were mostly in zone coverage or man to man on the WRs on the outside with two deep safeties and the linebackers in intermediate zones. Luck held onto the ball longer than I’d like to see, especially early in the game. As the game went on he was getting rid of it more quickly. Either he was having trouble making his reads or his WRs weren’t getting open. Whatever the case, it was encouraging to see Luck adjust and improve as the game went on. It’s also possible he was nervous. 21 year olds get nervous when they have to do something in front of a few million people.
Luck moves well in the pocket, and is very athletic and mobile when he needs to be. He wasn’t presented with heavy blitzes so I can’t determine how he would respond to them.
Throwing the Ball:
Luck’s mechanics were poor early in the game. His stationary mechanics were funky and he was jumping when he threw the ball on rollouts. Later in the game he improved dramatically. He has a good arm, not elite but more than good enough for the NFL. He is accurate in the pocket but tends to underthrow guys a little bit when he’s on the run. He showed good touch on short passes. Once he decides to throw the ball, it is out of his hands quickly.
Everything seems in check. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders. I highly doubt he’ll get into fights at strip clubs or murder more than one drifter during his career.
The Lewin Career Forecast (a regression analysis that values completion% and games started in college as the most influential factors in determining a QB’s NFL success) may not be optimistic about Luck. Luck only has 26 or 27 games started for his career and a poor completion% last year (56%) drags his career numbers down. If Luck is a bust, it’s a notch in the belt of this metric. The specifics (who compares to Luck in this aspect and how they turned out) I’ll know closer to the draft.
He’ll go #1 if he comes out. He reminds me of Aaron Rodgers, built thicker and stronger and more durable.