Why Andrew Luck ranks outside our top 10 QBs (for now)
After releasing our top 10 quarterbacks article yesterday, the biggest objection we heard from fans was about the inclusion of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill at No. 10, and Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck.
This wasn’t a surprise to us, and the truth is that the ratings of the two QBs are incredibly close – with Luck coming in just behind Tannehill at No. 11. Luck is without question one of the best quarterbacks in the game, having led the Colts to the playoffs in all three of his seasons, including the AFC championship game last season. He recently ranked No. 5 in a poll of league coaches and executives by ESPN’s Mike Sando on the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
But while his physical talent is unquestioned and we certainly expect him to be a top-5 QB in the league very soon, his performance hasn’t yet matched that projection on a consistent basis.
While Luck has shown himself to be capable of impressive late-game drives, he still has too many plays every season that simply leave you scratching your head – mistakes that put him in position to have to lead comeback attempts in the first place. He has improved on this with each season, but he still has room to grow to become the quarterback he is capable of being – and frankly, the quarterback he is already credited with being.
The AFC title game against the Patriots provides us with a good example of what Luck needs to improve upon, despite coming so far already. In that game he made several key throws, but nullified them with some absolutely terrible ones, too, with none worse than the interception by Darrelle Revis with 2:24 left in the third quarter. When Luck can reduce these types of errors even a little bit further, he’s going to be pushing the top 5 in our rating system, not just the top 10. But it’s those types of throws right now that keep him on the outside looking in.
Another area that matters in our rating systems is a QB’s performance when facing pressure from opposing defenses. Luck finished with a negative grade against pressure last season, completing just 47.8 percent of passes – a fact that was likely obscured for most by his 14-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio when under pressure.
As for Tannehill, he needs to become more consistent, too. As we mentioned, he barely edged out Luck in our ratings, so it’s not as though he’s a finished product, either. But based on how they’ve played to this point, the gap between these two players is much smaller than what is generally perceived. In fact, during thee 2014 seasons, Tannehill’s highest-graded game of the year was better than Luck’s, while his lowest-graded game of the year was also better.
Both of these guys have top-5 QB potential, and we won’t be at all surprised if we see both of them there in our ratings very soon. But to this point, Tannehill’s performance has been slightly better.