Luck solidifies elite status with impressive Pro Day performance
STANFORD, Calif. -- Andrew Luck showed he could do it all at Stanford's Pro Day on Thursday: throw a 70-yard pass, throw the out pattern, hit a receiver in stride, even avoid the pass rush.
A pass rush that was tall and long, persistent and bristling.
Okay, okay, so the pass rush was really a broom, a Home Depot sale item that quarterback guru George Whitfield was waving around in Luck's face.
But Luck still avoided it.
And, truthfully, the broom was the most interesting part of Luck's pro day.
Because -- despite the packed house at Stanford -- nobody learned anything new from the workout. Luck made 50 passes, completing 46. Three were dropped by his receivers -- including a 70-yard perfectly aimed spiral to the end zone -- and one was slightly over thrown.
Luck looked terrific. Did anyone learn anything they didn't already know?
"I don't think I did," said Clyde Christensen, the Colts offensive coordinator who was one of a handful of representatives from the team expected to draft Luck with the No. 1 overall pick. Colts owner Jim Irsay and coach Chuck Pagnano did not make the trip.
Even though there wasn't much to be learned, there was plenty of interest in reconfirming Luck's talent. Stanford's athletic department issued 125 passes to NFL scouts and 140 passes to media. Dozens of onlookers packed the sidelines to watch Stanford's favorite son, including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who is a Stanford professor and unofficial athletic mascot.
Stanford All-American basketball player Nneka Ogwumike tweeted, "Pro-Day here in Nerd City!!! Our guys are doing their thing out here!"
And the day was very much in keeping with Stanford, which likes to celebrate its nerdiness. There was no music booming -- unlike a day before at Baylor, when Robert Griffin III had personally selected his workout playlist. There were no matching spandex outfits or neon cleats like what the scouts saw in Texas.
Luck wore mismatched baggy black shorts with a yellow stripe and an oft-laundered gray T-shirt. He seemed perfectly comfortable, joking around on the field before he tossed passes to his teammates Coby Fleener, Chris Owusu and Griff Whalen.
"It was just like what you see on game film," Christensen said. "This guy's just -- ho-hum -- another completion, another win. The other guy is in fluorescent shoes, flinging it around. But both of them are incredibly productive."
"It's a lot like their styles of football," he added. "One throws it wide, the two wideouts have their feet out of bounds, they're spreading it wide. And the other guys has six tight ends and is playing everything between the hash marks. It was fun to see them back to back."
He wasn't the only one double-dipping on the quarterback prospects. Redskins owner Dan Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan were at Luck's tryout, along with representatives from every other team.
If the scouts were hoping for a pleasant trip to sunny California, they were disappointed. The temperature was about 51 degrees and overcast and a brisk wind gave Luck a challenge that Griffin -- whose pro day was held indoors -- didn't have to face.
"I guess it was a little factor," Luck said. "But you play football in the wind and the rain and the snow, whatever. So you go out there and handle it."
Christensen was impressed that Luck chose to throw into the wind.
"That probably reveals something about him," Christensen said. "That he just goes and plays football, which is kind of neat."
A few of Luck's completions were so pretty they drew applause from the gathering. His lone mistake was overthrowing Whalen in the end zone.
Whitfield -- who worked with Cam Newton last year and has been helping Luck prepare for the draft -- harassed Luck with the broom on about half his throws.
It must have been unnerving for the Colts to see their new toy batted around like a piñata, but Whitfield said the broom allows him to manipulate the way the quarterback has to move. When he worked with Ben Roethlisberger during the Steeler's suspension, Whitfield wanted to simulate his pocket feel and adrenaline rush.
"So I went out and got one of those giant plastic rakes, lined it with foam, wrapped it in bubble wrap and went after him," Whitfield said.
Luck seemed amused by the broom.
"It was pretty ferocious," Luck said. "I think it's just another way to try and realistically create a pass rush. Not everyone is a 6-foot-7, 300-pound freak defensive end. So the broom simulates it."
Luck is about to go to a place where pretty much everyone is a freak defensive end. And, hey, if this football thing doesn't work out, there's always quidditch.