Friday, February 24, 2012
Luck-RG3 debate needs to be about football
By Paul Kuharsky
Andrew Luck said he would be happy holding a clipboard and being Peyton Manning's apprentice.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The two quarterbacks who will presumably be the top two picks in the NFL draft spoke to a good share of 750 credentialed reporters at the combine Friday afternoon.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III didn’t take a drop, make a read or throw a pass. Nothing that transpired had anything to do with football.
Yet fandom's need for information and evaluation will dictate a comparison, and here’s what will fuel it: Griffin was off the cuff, glib and quippy; Luck was boilerplate, personable for sure, but not as entertaining.
And so, the buzz from the scouting community that had long held that Griffin is a very good NFL prospect but Luck is a great one will now be tempered. Media will be influenced by what it just saw and heard and the gap between the two will close through no football function at all.
Think I overstate? A year ago we raced back to our laptops to write about how Ryan Mallett was defiant and how Cam Newton needed a scripted opening statement, unimpressed with either. And at least for a time the national stories on each influenced the national perception -- unfairly and, to be honest, inaccurately.
Brace for the 2012 version of that, starting right now. Measure it. And know that scouts are largely scoffing when they see it.
A few more thoughts out of Luck’s media session:
• At one end of the media room, a club level concourse at Lucas Oil Stadium, the pillars are decorated with pictures of Peyton Manning. It’s made for great art -- Manning looming over John Elway or Colts general manager Ryan Grigson. But Luck didn’t speak from the shadow of the legendary quarterback he may replace. He was at the other end of the room -- where photos of Gary Brackett and Marvin Harrison are part of the backdrop.
• Luck spoke fondly of Manning as he answered a question about the potential for replacing him: “Peyton was my hero growing up, he was my football hero. Who I modeled myself after in high school and middle school. You never truly replace a guy like that and who knows what happens? Who knows what happens? So many different things can happen. I’m not thinking about it.”
• The questions about Manning are inevitable, he said. “I understand the questions have to be asked, it’s part of it. I understand the speculation. In my mind too, nothing’s happened yet. I haven’t been drafted by any team and what Peyton has is still going on with the Colts. It’s not uncomfortable, I understand the questions have to be asked."
• Luck knows Manning some. He’s been to the family’s passing camp the past two summers. He sought out Manning when he was deciding to return to Stanford for his senior year. He got a few texts from Manning during the season. Griffin had said he’d be happy to hold a clipboard as Manning’s apprentice and Luck echoed the sentiment.
• He praised Griffin as “a great quarterback, a great competitor, real easy to get along with” but said he wasn’t motivated to compete against him for the No. 1 draft position. “I think everybody wants to be No. 1 but not at the expense of another person, if that makes sense,” he said.
• While he’s heard some call him a once-in-a-generation quarterback, Luck said things can change and he needs to pay no attention to such talk: “The game can change so quick and you can get caught behind whatever that is.”
• His current efforts are focused on quickening everything up, making “rhythmic, perfect drops every time” and playing super clean.
• Elway visits Stanford roughly twice a year and Luck has visited with him on those occasions. The biggest lesson he took away was what Elway told him about the Broncos' Super Bowl failures early in his career: “They were thinking too big picture. So it was always, ‘focus on that next play. What are you going to do the first play of the game?’”
• Luck's aware of the success his college coach, Jim Harbaugh, had as quarterback of the Colts -- mentioning Harbaugh’s “Captain Comeback” nickname and acknowledging Harbaugh’s spot in the Colts’ ring of honor.
• His meetings Thursday night included a stop with the Colts. He spoke with Clyde Christensen, the team’s receivers coach who was offensive coordinator under the previous regime.
• He’s still got two classes to take to earn his degree from Stanford. He’ll return starting April 1 and graduate in June.
• The quarterback will not throw here, but said no outside force influenced that decision. It has been reported his camp asked the Colts and suggested he not throw. He will do everything else while he’s in Indy.