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Offensive Rookie Of the Year

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Andrew Luck , QB, Indianapolis - Round 1, Pick 1

FOR: Luck has been phenomenal for the Colts this season. No two ways about it. There is no easy way to fill the shoes of a living legend like Peyton Manning. That alone deserves recognition in and of itself. The quality of that character is further bolstered by the fact he’s lead the league in bringing the Colts to seven comeback wins. When your team goes from 2-14 to 11-5, that’s not something that can be taken lightly.

Some draftniks questioned if he’d ever have an arm capable of the deeper throws he wasn’t asked to make at Stanford. He’s answered that with aplomb. He’s been asked to make more deep throws than any of his draft class have been asked to do and generated more passing yards than any rookie quarterback has ever done before.

This is a guy who can lead the Colts for as long as they decide they want him.

AGAINST: Volume. If his peers are making a number of throws on a scale of 1-10, Luck has been throwing all the way up to 11. More pass attempts than Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan? We can blame interim coach Bruce Arians, we can blame the defense, but the truth probably lies somewhere between the two. There’s certainly enough culpability to go around.

When you’re relying on volume for productive numbers, it can suggest the overall quality isn’t quite there, yet. For example, if you have two running backs that are 1,000-yard runners, do you want the one who can do it on 200 carries (5 yards per carry) or the one that needs 400 (2.5 yards per carry). Right.

Now, no one is saying – least of all me – that Luck is the equivalent of a 2.5 yards per carry running back, but his yardage needs to be put into context. His passing accuracy is less than 60 percent (the benchmark that you look for in a quarterback) in every yardage category from 1-yard screens all the way up to the 50-yard plus bombs. One is obviously more worrying than the other.

He’s currently ranked 31st in the league for passing accuracy, below Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez.

When you throw, rush or get targeted with high volumes it’ll amplify any positives or negatives in your game. From what I’ve seen, Luck has struggled badly versus relentless pressure from defensive coordinators this year. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem; it’s part and parcel of the rookie quarterback learning curve and should be dismissed as growing pains. That Colts offensive line has two good pieces on it, but they aren’t the David De Castro and Jonathan Martin from Stanford he’s used to, and those blitzes are of a much higher quality than he’ll have been used to in the PAC 12.

The only reason it’s a problem this year is because he has two peers in contention that have excelled versus the blitz and an offensive coordinator that will encourage him to hold on for the deeper route to open. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger.



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