With college teams still a month away from their first fall practices, Insider begins a regular series that will identify some of the top prospects in the 2011 NFL draft and look at what makes them of such great interest to NFL scouts and coaches.
When Insider requested an interview with Andrew Luck, Jim Young, Stanford's director of media relations, set about tracking down the potential first-round draft pick. A week went by and Young suggested a Plan B.
"He's usually good about getting back, but I'd say he's probably tired of hearing from me," Young said with a laugh. "Or maybe the kid just needs a summer vacation."
It's hard to blame Luck for either. Young has been bombarded by college football writers across the country calling to get the scoop on the 20-year-old, one of the most talked about third-year sophomore quarterbacks since a guy named Sam Bradford. Well, that and the "kid" does have quite a course load.
But the attention is well deserved: In his first and only season as the Cardinal starter, Luck threw for more than 2,500 yards and his efficiency rating (143.47) led the Pac-10. NFL scouts are already saying Luck has the skills to be the first player taken in the 2011 NFL draft -- if fellow Pac-10 slinger Jake Locker doesn't hear his name called first.
The debate will rage on up until the first team hands NFL commissioner Roger Goodell its pick. Ask one scout and he'll tell you if Locker proves a pure passer for Washington this season -- not just a strong arm with a good set of legs -- then he's a shoo-in for No. 1. Another will tell you that teams won't be able to pass on Luck's accuracy and poise. And don't forget the likes of Arkansas' Ryan Mallett or Florida State's Christian Ponder.
Of course, Luck's numbers are not nearly at Bradford's level -- more than 3,000 yards and a freshman-record 36 touchdown passes -- but the rub for NFL teams pouring over Luck's small body of work is the fact his numbers came with a little help from a Heisman runner-up in the backfield.