Last Thursday Andrew Luck signed his 4-year $22.1 million contract, with a fifth-year team option and $14.5 million signing bonus, just one day after #2 overall pick Robert Griffin III signed his. With training camp less than one week away, everyone is waiting to see if Andrew Luck lives up to the hype. What must it be like to be the #1 draft pick and the franchise quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts?
On signing his contract:
The money, (of course!) as well as a guaranteed starting job going into training camp. No competing for the #1 spot like in Cleveland or New York (Jets).
Is Andrew Luck worth all the money the Colts are spending on him? His performance will be dissected under a microscope. He will have to prove himself in a much more public spotlight than other players, being the #1 overall draft pick.
On replacing Peyton:
The city needs a new leader to rally behind. With the departure of Peyton, fans will be clamoring to find a new face of the franchise.
Manning’s position coach Bruce Arians is now Indy’s offensive coordinator. Next week in training camp, Luck will practice with the first unit just as Peyton took every snap with the first unit during his first training camp. Arians will give Luck as many reps as Peyton had, thereby ramping up his NFL experience quicker than other rookie quarterbacks. Look for Luck to take more than half the snaps in preseason and nearly all snaps in the regular season, just as Peyton did.
Peyton was a idolized in Indy and many fans are disgruntled by his departure. Peyton’s shoes will be hard to fill with all the positive work he did in the city on and off the football field.
Luck will be incessantly compared to Peyton Manning with journalists, talk show hosts, commentators, etc. charting his progress. Get ready for every combination of statistics and comparisons to Peyton’s rookie year.
On being the #1 draft pick:
Luck is without a doubt, the franchise quarterback. He is the new face of the Colts and the new Colts team is built around him. He even gets to be reunited with one of his favorite Stanford targets, tight end Coby Fleener who finalized his contract Wednesday.
As if filling Manning’s shoes was not enough, Luck’s progress will also be compared ad nauseum to RGIII as people continue to speculate which team made the better pick. Remember Ryan Leaf and Peyton? How about Edgerrin James and Ricky Williams? When the #1 and #2 picks are neck and neck in talent, they are almost certainly joined together for the rest of their rookie year and sometimes, even their careers.
On playing in Indy:
He comes to a team with an owner that knows how to win a Super Bowl and put the pieces together for continued sucess.
Most of those pieces (coaches, players, GM) are gone and a new unproven team is in place. Owner has also recently had to account for lagging ticket sales by announcing that games not sold out will be blacked out locally. Regaining the city’s confidence may not be easy, especially if this season is a bumpy one.
Related: Blackouts in Indy?[divider]
Of course, any football player would be clamoring to be the #1 draft pick with a $22 million contract. Being a franchise quarterback walking into training camp may add certain expectations but it also takes the pressure off without having a #2 waiting on the sidelines to take over. With that being said, Andrew Luck does still have his work cut out for him. He is going to have to tune out a lot of criticism and countless comparisons this year as he forges his own path in the NFL.