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What if Andrew Luck were drafted in 1998?

DISCLAIMER: I compiled these stats to appease my own curiosity. I have chosen to share them in the hope that someone else may also find them useful. We've all had the "so and so is better than so and so and should be drafted as such" battle multiple times over, so please let us try to avoid that this time around and focus on the subject at hand. I'm not doing this to make any definitive statements that Luck will or will not succeed in the NFL, just taking a look at how thin of a line it truly is when judging college quarterbacks entering the NFL. It is no secret that many scouts have compared Luck to the first overall pick of the 1998 draft and one of the very best to ever play the game, Peyton Manning. What has not been mentioned very often is the "other guy" that went directly behind Manning, Mr. Ryan Leaf. What made Indianapolis choose Manning over Leaf? Why has Manning been so successful while Leaf amounted to a large, lump sum of failure? More importantly, if it is the 18th of April, 1998, how does Andrew Luck compare to each of them? We all know how they turned out in hindsight but this would most certainly be an interesting decision at the time. I will do my very best to avoid any biased remarks and "K.I.S.S" (Keep.It.Simple.Stupid).

Remember, I'm posting this only for those interested in seeing a statistical comparison between Luck, the guy all of the paid scouts are comparing him to, and the alternative to everything that is great that just so happened to come off of the board directly behind "the guy".
 

  • Age / Games Played
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 18 / 10
    1995: 19 / 11
    1996: 20 / 11
    1997: 21 / 11

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 19 / 9
    1996: 20 / 11
    1997: 21 / 12

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 19 / 12
    2010: 20 / 12

    Manning & Leaf both have an edge over Luck in terms of experience, however, if he chooses to enter the league this year he will be doing so with a one year advantage over both of them.

  • Completions / Attempts
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 89 / 144
    1995: 244 / 380
    1996: 243 / 380
    1997: 287 / 477

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 52 / 97
    1996: 194 / 373
    1997: 227 / 410

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 162 / 288
    2010: 245 / 349

    Luck was never asked to throw as much as either Manning or Leaf, though Manning only completed more passes than Luck once.

  • Completion Percentage
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 61.8%
    1995: 64.2%
    1996: 63.9%
    1997: 60.2%

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 53.6%
    1996: 52.0%
    1997: 55.4%

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 56.3%
    2010: 70.2%

    Manning and Leaf were both highly consistent with their completion percentages, fluctuating only 4 and 3.4% respectively throughout their college careers, from best-to-worst. Luck's worst surpassed Leaf and his best surpassed even Manning, though two years is hardly enough to make a good judgement out of when you have a 13.9% leap in accuracy.

  • Yards
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 1,141
    1995: 2,954
    1996: 3,287
    1997: 3,819

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 654
    1996: 2,811
    1997: 3,968

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 2,575
    2010: 3,051

    Leaf just barely managed to out Manning in terms of single season yardage but, overall, this isn't even a close race. Manning leads the pack while Leaf trails and Luck brings up the rear. While Luck has gotten off to a better start in his first two years, if he chooses to enter the draft, they will also be his final two years, which don't fare so well in comparison.

  • Touchdowns
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 11
    1995: 22
    1996: 20
    1997: 36

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 4
    1996: 21
    1997: 34

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 13
    2010: 28

    The same argument used above could also apply here. While Luck has accumulated more touchdowns in his first two years, he's far behind in total touchdowns (even if only considering the final two years of each) if he chooses to declare now.

  • Interceptions
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 6
    1995: 4
    1996: 12
    1997: 11

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 1
    1996: 12
    1997: 11

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 4
    2010: 7

    A very close comparison can be made with Manning and Luck here. Leaf is a little further out there. Regardless, numbers such as these are subject to multiple other factors. I find the percentages below much more intriguing.

  • Touchdown %
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 7.6%
    1995: 5.8%
    1996: 5.3%
    1997: 7.5%

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 4.1%
    1996: 5.6%
    1997: 8.3%

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 4.5%
    2010: 8.0%

    Manning's first and last years were his best in terms of touchdown %, though the two in-between weren't exactly bad. Leaf progressively got better, posting the highest percentage of all three in his final year. Luck, much like with his completion percentage, made an outstanding jump from 2009 to 2010. It's tough to judge such a small sample size, determining which is the rule and which is the exception, while likely impossible at this time, is the key. 

  • Interception %
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 4.2%
    1995: 1.1%
    1996: 3.2%
    1997: 2.3%

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 1.0%
    1996: 3.2%
    1997: 2.7%

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 1.4%
    2010: 2.0%

    Combining these with the touchdown percentages, it's easy to see that all of their best years were their final. The largest margin was posted by Luck, with a 6% difference between his TD% and INT%. I find it interesting that none of them ever posted the same whole percentage twice. Manning posted 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% in his four years, Leaf 1%, 2%, and 3% in his three years, and Luck 1% and 2% in his two years. Meaningless but something I find amusing nonetheless.

  • Yards / Game
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 114.1
    1995: 268.5
    1996: 298.8
    1997: 347.2

    Ryan Leaf
    1995: 72.7
    1996: 255.5
    1997: 330.7

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 214.6
    2010: 254.3

    Outside of Manning and Leaf's first year each, Luck hasn't been able to surpass them at any point. Manning has a clear lead strictly in terms of yards per game.

  • Yards / Attempt
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 7.9
    1995: 7.8
    1996: 8.7
    1997: 8.0

    Ryan Leaf 
    1995: 6.7
    1996: 7.5
    1997: 9.7

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 8.9
    2010: 8.7

    I find it outstanding (and ironic) that Leaf averaged 9.7 yards per attempt in '97. What Leaf lacked, though, was consistency. Over the course of his college career, he averaged only 8 yards per attempt even with the exception in '97. Manning and Luck averaged 8.1 and 8.8 yards per attempt, respectively, in a much more consistent manner.

  • QB Rating
    Peyton Manning
    1994: 145.2
    1995: 146.5
    1996: 147.7
    1997: 147.7

    Ryan Leaf: 
    1995: 121.8
    1996: 127.5
    1997: 158.7

    Andrew Luck
    2009: 143.5
    2010: 166.1

    Manning could be considered a role model for consistency here, posting the exact same quarterback rating twice, consecutively. He never posted the big year like Leaf (158.7) or Luck (166.1) but never had a down year, either.

  • NCAA Total
    Peyton Manning
    43 G/P - 863 Comp - 1381 Att - 62.5% - 11,201 Yds - 89 TD - 33 INT - 6.4 TD% - 2.4 INT% - 260.5 Y/G - 8.1 Y/A - 147.1 Rating

    Ryan Leaf
    32 G/P - 473 Comp - 880 Att - 53.8% - 7,433 Yds - 59 TD - 24 INT - 6.7 TD% - 2.7 INT% - 232.3 Y/G - 8.4 Y/A - 141.4 Rating

    Andrew Luck
    24 G/P - 407 Comp - 637 Att - 63.9% - 5,626 Yds - 41 TD - 11 INT - 6.4 TD% - 1.7 INT% - 234.4 Y/G - 8.8 Y/A - 155.9 Rating

    So, as the title implies, if this were 1998 and Andrew Luck were declaring for the draft, where would he fall? It's easy to say he gets taken second in hindsight, knowing how both other quarterbacks perform, but what if there were no names attached to these numbers? The way I see it..

  • Quarterback #1 - Battle tested, consistent.
  • Quarterback #2 - High risk, high reward.
  • Quarterback #3 - Accurate, safe.

    With names aside, I think the accuracy of QB#3 edges out QB#2 for the second pick but the large, and consistent, body of work of QB#1 keeps him safely in the #1 spot. 

So, what do you guys think? Do the stats back-up what the scouts are saying? In a direct comparison, does Luck look more like Manning or Leaf? Notice any similarities that excite or frighten you?

Remember, guys, don't take this too seriously. Everyone knows it's impossible to predict a players success before they actually take a snap in the NFL. It's just a discussion piece.

All stats are from Total Football Stats.

The content of these posts are those of the user/fan making the post only

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