The Colts did what was universally expected of them Thursday evening, using the first pick in the draft on former Stanford QB Andrew Luck. The 22-year-old Luck becomes the new face of the franchise, assigned the seemingly impossible task of replacing a living legend.
The question now becomes how will Luck do what is universally expected — quickly ascending to the elite class of NFL triggermen and returning the Colts to perennial playoff contenders?
Even the most casual NFL observer has known for over two years that Luck would be the top pick because his tangible skill set — outstanding size, off-the-charts athleticism and ability to make all the throws — pales in comparison to his once-in-a-generation intangibles. Luck’s rare instincts, toughness, work ethic and NFL readiness are already further advanced than a number of starting QBs around the league.
However, unlike death and taxes, the assurance of Luck reaching his potential isn’t guaranteed.
And that is what makes the decision making of new GM Ryan Grigson the rest of the weekend and in the next several years so critical. Will he follow the philosophy of the last great Colts architect, Bill Polian, who spent much of his resources on surrounding his franchise QB with weapons — despite new head coach Chuck Pagano’s defensive background? Because the fact is, while Luck is the ideal foundation for “building the monster,” the rest of the Colts' offensive personnel elicits more laughter than fear. Luck was on Luck’s side (I promise I won’t make a habit of doing that) when the Colts managed to re-sign WR Reggie Wayne to be the rookie QB’s security blanket for the next few years. But what other weapons on offense are considered valuable assets to the talented QB in the early stages of his development?
Part of what made Manning so great was Polian’s terrific offensive drafting following Manning’s arrival.
Thus, the pressure is squarely on Grigson to hit on at least one skill-position player in the next 48 hours and likely hit on at least two in the next few drafts to put Luck and Co. on the proper trajectory.
What about the defensive side of the ball, where the current personnel couldn’t be further from what Pagano needs to install his hybrid 3-4 scheme?
Well, putting those needs on the backburner sure worked for Polian. We’ll find out soon enough if Grigson intends to take a page out of the Polian manual for rebuilding.