Remember back to the months leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft when there was a serious debate between NFL Draft experts on whether Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III should be the No. 1 overall pick?
The mere thought of that debate seems comical now, and the Colts absolutely made the right decision. It’s partly because Luck has turned out to be exactly what he was billed to be. It’s partly because RGIII can’t stay healthy. It’s partly because there’s a very good chance RGIII isn’t even the best quarterback drafted in 2012 on the Redskins roster. But the biggest reason the “RGIII or Luck” argument seems crazy today is the emergence of Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks drafted Wilson with the No. 75 pick in the third round of the 2012 Draft with the intention of sitting him behind Matt Flynn for a year or two before handing him the keys to the franchise. That plan never came to fruition, as Wilson beat out Flynn for the starting job as a rookie and quickly established himself as one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league.
Wilson and Luck haven’t been compared in the same way Luck was compared to RGIII prior to the draft, but a comment from Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris following Seattle’s overtime victory over Denver this weekend started the debate.
Chris Harris with best stuff today. “Keep keep talking up Andrew Luck. Russell Wilson is better than luck. No question.”
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) September 22, 2014
So now that the question of “Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson” has been brought to the forefront, it’s time to answer it. For as good as Russell Wilson is, he’s not the quarterback Andrew Luck is – yet.
Before diving deeper into this debate, let’s just clarify one thing. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Both Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson and bonafide superstars and are without question “elite”. They each do exactly what they’re asked to do for their respective teams, and if their respective general managers were asked which quarterback they’d rather have, they’d choose their own guy.
Believe it or not, Russell Wilson has been statistically better than Andrew Luck through 35 regular season games.
Wilson has thrown more touchdowns (58>55), less interceptions (20<30), and has a higher Quarterback Rating (101.4>83.5) than Luck. However, Luck has thrown for more yards (9,108>7,126) and scored more rushing touchdowns (10>5) than Wilson.
In the grand scheme of things, scores and turnovers and more important than yards, so Wilson gets the edge in this category.
Wilson is often looked at as just a game manager, but the numbers prove he’s more than that. Wilson can sling it with the best of them, and he finds the end zone more frequently than people realize. The most impressive thing Wilson does is take care of the ball. His touchdown-to-intercpetion ratio is nearly 3:1, which is unheard of for a third year quarterback.
Luck is more a gunslinger and is asked to do more for the Colts offensively. He doesn’t have the luxury of turning around and handing it off to a dominant back like Wilson does, so he has to take more chances in the passing game.
The most important stat in football is wins, and Wilson not only has a Super Bowl ring on his finger, but he holds a perfect 7-0 record against some of the league’s top quarterbacks. He’s 2-0 against Peyton Manning, 2-0 against Aaron Rodgers, 2-0 against Drew Brees, and 1-0 against Tom Brady. Luck on the other hand is 2-3 against those same opponents, but won his only career meeting against Wilson early in 2013.
Once again, both Luck and Wilson have absolute cannons. There’s not a throw that either quarterback can’t make, and they both excel at pushing the ball downfield.
Both Wilson and Luck have strong arms, but Luck’s is a little bit stronger. People forget that Luck threw the ball 75-yards in the air during a predraft workout. There are very few, if any receivers in the league that can out-run Luck’s range. It isn’t always a perfect spiral when leaving his hands, but it always seems to get to his receiver.
Wilson seemingly exerts as much effort on a 50-yard deep ball as he does on a 5-yard slant. The ball comes out of his hand like a laser beam. He has enough velocity on his ball to fit it in tight coverage and he can finesse into the holes against zone defense too.
Wilson’s career completion percentage is 64.1% while Luck’s is 58.1%. The numbers indicate Wilson is the more accurate quarterback, but it’s tough to gauge by the numbers alone. Luck’s percentage could be higher if he wasn’t asked to attempt so many intermediate to deep passes. It also might be higher if he had the luxury of having four to five seconds in the pocket to survey the defense before unloading a bullet to his receiver. The Colts offensive line hasn’t been very good in Luck’s tenure. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s play calling hasn’t helped Luck in that category either.
No matter how you look at it, both of these quarterbacks have superb arms. Picking one of the other based off their arm alone is like splitting hairs.
The Supporting Cast
This is the major difference between the two quarterbacks. Russell Wilson plays on a team with one of the best defenses in NFL history, a top-five running back, and a solid offensive line. Andrew Luck plays on a team with an atrocious defense, a comically bad running game, and an undermanned offensive line.
There’s really no comparing the two rosters. Take Wilson and Luck out of the equation and the Seahawks would still have enough talent to compete in the NFC while the Colts would have to fight for their lives to not finish in last place in the weak AFC South Division.
If you were to combine these two rosters – minus Luck and Wilson – and create a starting offense and defense, the majority of the starters on both sides of the ball would come from Seattle. The Colts receiving corps is the only unit that has an advantage over Seattle, but that’s it.
There’s really no bad answer to this question, but Andrew Luck gets the slight advantage in this debate for what he’s done with what he has.
If you were to swap quarterbacks and put Luck on the Seahawks and Wilson on the Colts, Seattle would, at least in my mind, be even better than they are right now. The Colts on the other hand might not be all that much better, if better at all.
We know Luck can make average players better. He does it on a weekly basis in Indianapolis. Just imagine how effective he could be surrounded by premiere talent. We know Wilson can get the most out of his teammates, but how much would that mean when his teammates aren’t some of the best players at their respective positions?
The NFL is a unique business in the sense that there isn’t an exact formula to success. For Seattle’s needs, Russell Wilson is the ideal quarterback. For Indianapolis, Andrew Luck is exactly what the doctor ordered, and the two quarterbacks have uniquely different, but effective styles.
Like I said before, there isn’t a right or wrong answer here. I’d be estatic with either of these two leading my team. But if I had to pick one to build a franchise around, it’d be Andrew Luck.
That’s my take, but who would you take? Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson. Make sure to vote and let us know why you prefer your pick in the comments below.