Andrew Luck is as 'can't-miss' as it gets 

April, 29, 2011

Plenty of NFL draft talk to lead this week's mailbag:

From @edavis19: On a scale of one to infinity, how good is Andrew Luck?

There is no such thing as a "can't-miss" NFL prospect. If I had to name the guys closest to that label in the past two years, I'd go with Eric Berry and Patrick Peterson. However, I will say this: Luck is the most complete quarterback prospect that has come along in the past decade. He is brilliant, plays in a pro-style system and was well-coached. He has great size; a powerful, accurate arm; very good agility; and, as Jim Harbaugh once told me, he's "got memory talent."

Harbaugh, who clearly knows what it takes to play in the NFL, was gushing over a guy who had never played in a game at the time, and in a way I'd never heard a coach talk about an unproven QB. It was even stronger praise than when Pete Carroll talked about Matt Barkley.

Well, Harbaugh was spot-on. Luck also has "it." The problem is excelling as a QB in the NFL is never certain for anyone. So much is dependent on the timing and the situation. I suspect Aaron Rodgers would have still emerged as a great NFL quarterback if the 49ers had drafted him rather than Alex Smith, but you never know. Smith, the first overall pick, was a player everyone praised for his intelligence, athleticism and youth, but he didn't have the arm, the pocket presence or the advantage of having been developed in a pro-style system in college like Luck has. He also has played for about 19 different offensive coordinators since coming to San Francisco, which could be a big reason why he's struggled.

That said, if I had to use a No. 1 overall draft pick on any college quarterback, Luck would be my choice. The others I would bypass, because it's just too big of a risk, seeing as how taking the wrong quarterback can set your franchise back five years and get a lot of people fired.