I like what Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had to say in response to the recent comments by Phil Simms regarding Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
As someone who has seen every Luck throw this season, I disagree with Simms on both fronts.
This smacks of Simms going against the grain for the sake of going against the grain. You can say Luck won't be able to handle the pressure at the next level. Or that he won't be able to read defenses as well as he does in college. And then Simms might be right. We just don't know. Lots of great college quarterbacks have flopped at the next level. For Luck, it's still to be determined.
But commenting on things we already know to be true strikes me as chatter for the sake of chatter.
First, the arm strength issue, which I think is a non-issue. McShay nails it when he says arm strength is overrated. Couldn't agree more.
But if you need examples, look at last week's game against USC, on the Wildcat throw, Luck released the ball from the Stanford 16 and the ball traveled to the USC 29 before Ty Montgomery made the reception. That's 55 yards in the air. There aren't many NFL plays that have enough time to let a 55-yard route develop. Or even at the college level. That's why that play was run out of the Wildcat, because it gave Montgomery time to run that long of a route.
Plus, Luck was coming across his body when he received the pitch. He took two shuffle steps to reset his feet and then let the ball rip. It wasn't a five-step drop where he has a chance to step into the throw for momentum.
For another example, look at Luck's touchdown pass to Coby Fleener against UCLA -- the infamous one-handed Fleener catch. It's in the books as an 18-yard pass, but Luck threw it from the 25 and it was a missile that Fleener caught 1 yard deep in the end zone. Granted, the throw was a bit high and Fleener made perhaps the catch of the season to snatch it out of the air. But in terms of arm strength, it was a legitimate NFL throw.
The point is, Luck can make the throws if and when he has to. Is he going to be Brett Favre? No. That's not his game. But as far as "big time NFL throws," he can make them all. More than once this year we've seen Luck throw 30 yards across his body and hit his target in the numbers, or place a ball where only his receivers can get it. Those are "big time" throws.
At the next level, arm strength becomes less important as reading defenses and making the right throw, not the hardest throw.
Regarding the "hype" issue, Luck is aware it's out there. But he ignores it. When roommate Griff Whalen is watching TV and Luck pops up, he'll change the channel. Luck is treating this season like a sequestered juror.
Now, you can argue the media (cough, of which I am a member, cough) has built Luck up to a level he can't possibly match. Maybe. But it's not just us. Head coach David Shaw constantly refers to Luck as "a different type of human being" and references other NFL quarterbacks he's worked with and how Luck's talent and potential exceeds them. His coach hypes him as much as we do, which is fuel for the Luck-hype machine. But that's what makes covering Luck so much fun. He just doesn't care.
So much is going to depend on where he gets drafted. What kind of system he's in. What his offensive line looks like. What kind of receivers he will throw to. Who his offensive coordinator will be. The data isn't available yet to make any realistic statements about what he's going to do at the next level or how long it will take him to do it.
Simms knows more about quarterbacking than I could learn in a dozen lifetimes. But I feel pretty confident saying he missed the mark on this one.