While there is a lot more at stake in the debate over Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III than a shiny hunk of tin, the Indianapolis Colts are presented with essentially the same task: finding some small justification for picking one guy over the other. Luck and Griffin aren’t doing the Colts any favors with their stubborn insistence on being athletic prodigies of sterling character.
But the Colts will take Luck. And they should take Luck. No question, despite owner Jim Irsay’s declaration that “It’s up in the air,” to warn Luck’s agents not to ask for too much or else they might take Griffin. That tired ploy dates back to the days when agents wore leather helmets.
Every player has a few warts, even those of the can’t-miss variety. With Luck, it’s his arm. Some observers say he doesn’t have a cannon. But he made every throw he needed to at Stanford, and he allayed almost all fears in recent workouts. The arm issue is just more paralysis by analysis, which inevitably arises in these situations.
In comparing Luck with Griffin, it’s easy to notice that Luck is larger. He stands 6-foot-4, 235, whereas Griffin is 6-3, 195. Consider the Colts will reek next season, and perhaps the season after. The Colts after Peyton are a bit like Pompeii after Vesuvius — strewn with fossilized remains.
Whichever quarterback stands behind that offensive line will have to be as durable as a punching bag, because he’ll be one. Luck is better suited to that challenge. Strictly in terms of absorbing punishment, RGIII might be Muhammad Ali, but what is needed is Chuck Wepner.
The Colts’ QB will also have to be nimble and elusive. Griffin is probably more athletic, but not by that much. Luck is excellent at scampering and foiling oncoming rushers. And I believe whereas Griffin might actually go down quicker when finally apprehended in the pocket, Luck has a lot of Ben Roethlisberger’s knack for shaking off tackles.
At Baylor, Griffin had a stronger corps of receivers to work with, led by Kendall Wright, who was mentioned on most All-America lists. Wright topped Baylor with 108 catches and 14 touchdowns in 2011, whereas Stanford’s best receiver was Griff Whalen with 56 receptions and four TDs. Stanford doesn’t recruit the kind of gazelles that get into other programs. If the Colts can provide Luck with some quality targets, he’ll be Peyton-esque.
For many months Andrew Luck has been perceived as the clear choice to go first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Then Griffin had a spectacular year in 2011, culminating in a Heisman Trophy, thereby clouding the picture. But Luck didn’t slip; he was terrific in his own right. So you don’t have a No. 1 and a No. 2 so much as you have a 1 and a 1A.
This is a pick the Colts will have to live with for eternity, and beyond. If they take either candidate, they’ll get an excellent quarterback prospect. If they take Luck, they’ll be going with most experts’ first gut choice. If they take Griffin, it will be perceived as a mild risk, because they didn’t take the consensus pick.
Generally speaking, I’m in favor of risks. I believe you don’t get anywhere in life unless you take some. But there is a time and a place for a risk — even a minor one in this case, since RGIII is likely to be outstanding and maybe even magnificent — and I don’t know that this is that time and place.
This is the moment in history when the Indianapolis Colts are replacing a future Hall of Famer as well as a prince of the city, and if they stray from the expected and encounter failure as a result they’ll be verbally stoned. Remember, they won’t have to simply defend a top draft pick, they’ll also have to justify the letting go of a legend in Manning.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
But the Colts can only take one. They may nervously announce their pick as “Andrew Griffin III” or “Robert Luck,” but they’ll have to settle on one when it comes to contract time. And that’s another matter. Let’s hope the Colts don’t make their pick based on which quarterback’s agents are more agreeable. Because if they do that and the choice they make doesn’t work out, they’ll look dumber than a trailer for “The Three Stooges.”
To the Colts I say take Luck, wish RGIII the best in Washington, and accept the fact that while this is all guesswork anyway, be comforted that you made the best guess possible, even if two superb prospects caused the process to be as agonizing as possible.
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com. Follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MichaelVentre44
PFT: Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith said the draft process taught him an important lesson on taking criticism.
Y! Sports: Redskins fans found what appeared to be the wedding registry for Robert Griffin III and fiancee Rebecca Liddicoat, and they helped out their star QB.
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