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Prospect Watch: An Andrew Luck play.

I have made it known my recent hesitation in drafting a quarterback in the 2011 given that there aren't any QB's who have made himself stand out and the amount of elite talent at other positions.

Despite that, in the case that the Seahawks decide to look at a QB regardless, I've been looking at quarterbacks who can throw on the move for the simple reason that Bates like mobile quarterbacks who can throw accurately on the move. We all know about Jake Locker's ability to do so. Locker is without a doubt one of, if not THE most talented quarterback in the country. The question that Locker hasn't quite been able to answer for us is whether he can be good most of the time rather than great some of the time. Consistency, in other words. 

Because of that, I have kept an eye on other quarterbacks.

Enter stage center: Andrew Luck, who is probably the best pro QB prospect in the country right now, though probably due more to default than as a clear-cut consensus top talent.

Luck doesn't have elite velocity and isn't quite as toolsy as the Mallett's and Locker's of the college football landscape, but he does have a nice touch and throws with control - his accuracy is one of the best in the nation. His footwork is as good as I've seen this year, he makes his decisions in a timely fashion and doesn't hesitate. The only area I still have to get a more firm grasp on is his pre-snap reads and decision making; it's one of the ways that I get a feel for a QB's football IQ. It's actually been good thus far, but as far as comparing him to some of the elite IQ's, I need more time in watching him to fully gauge that.

Fortunately, I have two of his games recorded, vs. Notre Dame and vs. Oregon. To date, I have only watched his game vs. Oregon, where he threw on the move on the rare occasion. I will be watching his game against Notre Dame later this week, especially since my friend tells me that Luck ran quite a considerable amount of rollouts in that game compared to the Oregon game. I will record more of his future games and break them down.

Jim Harbaugh has an old-school type of offense built around a rushing attack, and I love it. His offense is my favorite Pac-10 offense. And in building it, he has pieced together one of the best and most powerful O-lines in the Pac-10, perhaps second only to USC. Chase Beeler is a center who is a likely All-Pac 10 honoree (second team, at worst), and a pro prospect who should climb up the draft board. He is the anchor of their O-line. 

Against Oregon, Andrew Luck enjoyed primarily pressure-free protection and was forced from the pocket in very few instances. Fearing very little for the sake of his quarterback, Jim Harbaugh didn't need to dial up plays to move Luck around and out of harm's way. I kept hoping that he would, and while Harbaugh disappointed me and I just about gave up on seeing Luck throw on the run, somehow, miraculously, Oregon's defense flushed Luck out of the pocket with a three-man rush until 2:56 in the 4th quarter.

4th quarter, 2nd and 10, Standford 48-yard line 

Stanford breaks in with a 3-WR Ace formation on the left hash mark. The three WR's are bunched right. The TE is strongside left.

Oregon is in what I'd like to call a 2-4-5 over formation. That is, two down linemen, and four LB's. Whether there is such a thing as a 2-4-5 over or whether that is accurate is debatable. However, the front six don't line up in a classic 2-4-5 formation; they are line up in a formation that gives a 3-3 look. The two down linemen are lined up at LE and NT, with a standing LB lined up as RE. The other three LB's are lined up close to D-line, with a strongside LB on the TE outside of the standing LB lined up as the RE. This is what makes me want to call it a 2-4-5 over formation.

Ball is snapped.

Oregon's three LB's not lined up as linemen drop back. They are in zone, their secondary deep and spread out. Their NT gets no push, but their LE and their RE do. The RE successfully beats out the TE, but gets picked up by the HB. The LE, though he eventually gets picked up by the RG, just comes off the edge quickly enough to draw the RT out far enough to do an inside slap move and adjust his way to the QB. He is successful against the RT, and while the RG picks him up and takes him out of the play, the LE gets close enough to Luck that Luck decides to roll out. Excellent, if perhaps an unnecessary, reaction by Luck and he moves immediately out to his right. Good footwork in moving out of the pocket.

Luck is moving at what appears to be 75% of his maximum speed. He gets to about 10 yards deep from the line of scrimmage and just inside the right hash mark when he fires. And boy, does he fire. He just rifles a deep ball about 52-yards down the field to an open receiver running what appears to be a deep corner route. It was Matthew Staffordesque. Quick release, no wasted motion, and with stunning velocity on the ball.

What's impressive is that Luck didn't slow down, much less set his feet, to set up his throw, and he made the throw off of his back foot. It's incredibly difficult to time a perfect deep pass like that with such speed in his run and with such velocity in his throw and put it perfectly in the receiver's hand.

This play tells me that he not only has the tools to throw on the move, but to stretch defenses back and away from the box. 

If Luck wasn't on your radar, he should be now. Even Jeremy Bates' radar.

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