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Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck has traits to become historically great QB

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates touchdown pass to tight end Jack Doyle in the final seconds of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Indianapolis, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. The Colts defeated the Jaguars 24-20. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Andrew Luck is the highest-paid player in the NFL and rightfully so.

When a player is selected first overall in the draft, the goal is that when his rookie deal expires, he warrants a contract of that magnitude. Mission accomplished for the Indianapolis Colts and Luck.

Luck’s career got off to a historic start, as he broke the record for most passing yards in a season by a rookie with 4,374 and led the Colts on seven game-winning drives. In five NFL seasons, Luck has been to three Pro Bowls and led the Colts to three playoff appearances including two AFC South division titles. In 2014 he he led the NFL in passing touchdowns (40 in 2014) and set the Colts’ single-season record for passing yards (4,761).

Remarkably, in 70 career starts Luck has engineered 18 game-winning drives, which is 65th in history. For perspective, that’s more than Aaron Rodgers has led in 135 career starts.

Luck’s career is off to a tremendous start and he is one of the premier quarterbacks in the game.

I took a deep dive into his film to find specific components of his game that make him one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Luck is everything he was billed to be coming out of college, and has justified being the first pick in the draft.

Luck reads defenses at a high level. He knows how to attack coverage and where his routes will be most favorable. He methodically works his progressions and delivers the football to the proper place.

On this rep, Luck works the whole field to draw the coverage away from his receiver lined up outside on the right. He recognizes the space and leverage advantage he has with the target and delivers an accurate football on schedule. This is routine for Luck.

The best NFL quarterbacks throw with anticipation. They know when the receiver is going to break and throw it into space before the cut is made. Luck does exactly that on this deep out with perfect timing and accuracy. With him in concert with his receivers, there is no defense for a perfect throw.

Luck is one of the best deep passers in the game and will test defenses vertically with pinpoint accuracy. On this rep, the cornerback does well to remain in phase with T.Y. Hilton down the field but a perfectly dropped ball in the bucket is impossible to defend. These are the big-time throws that he is willing to throw and capable of completing.

Luck is poised in the pocket. His footwork is terrific and he knows how to slide his feet to escape rushers and extend plays. His eyes are always downfield while he senses pressure.

On this rep, his pocket poise is on display as well as his ability to improvise and make a circus play to extend the drive.

Completing passes in the NFL is often about recognizing leverage and giving your target a chance to make a play on the ball. This requires accuracy and a willingness to test man coverage. Here, Luck recognizes a size mismatch and delivers an accurate, back shoulder throw to pick up a chunk of yardage.

Luck is a surgeon, capable of picking defenses apart. He will find soft spots in zones and leverage advantages in man coverage while making accurate throws to any level. While he has all the arm strength to make any throw, he also throws with outstanding touch while leading targets into space. If the pass rush doesn’t get home, he makes the defense pay.

It’s clear that Luck has all the physical tools to make any throw required. But combining those with exceptional mental processing skills makes him such a special player.

His clutch factor and leadership skills also cannot be overlooked. His talent helps lead his team to victories in the most critical moments of games. His situational awareness and ability to execute are at a high level.

Entering the 2017 season at 27 years old, Luck is coming into his prime. For a career that’s already off to a terrific start, he emphatically offers every trait needed to become a historically great passer in the NFL.

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