No one in the NFL believes ANDREW LUCK is anything less than elite. Luck made more expert-level plays than any quarterback last year, extending plays and finding receivers late. But he also made too many negative plays. Luck can curtail these and help his developing offensive line (plus ward off the injuries that are starting to clutter his "work history") by getting rid of the ball more quickly.
• Here's the conundrum for the Colts, though: Luck is at his best when he extends plays. Most quarterbacks go sandlot when they prolong the action, but Luck understands which routes beat which coverages late, and he consistently spots receivers coming open by keeping his eyes downfield and moving within the pocket. His accuracy on tough throws is exceptional. You take these virtues away when you ask him to get rid of the ball sooner. Play-caller ROB CHUDZINSKI must take care to build a quicker passing game that doesn't rob Luck of his greatest strengths.
• It will help if Indianapolis's young O-line gets better at protecting Luck. Starters RYAN KELLY (center), JOE HAEG (right guard) and LE'RAVEN CLARK (right tackle) have just 16, 14 and three career starts, respectively, and they showed signs of growth last season: In the second half of the season, the Colts allowed an average of 2.25 fewer sacks per game than in the first.
• There are two basic schools of thought on defense. One is to run a simple scheme and allow your guys to play fast. The other is to run a complex scheme and overwhelm opponents mentally. The Colts prefer the former, but it requires an effective four-man pass rush, which they don't have—in fact, they're not even close. Indy's two best edge players, free-agent signees JABAAL SHEARD (Patriots) and JOHN SIMON (Texans), wouldn't even be on the field in passing situations for some teams. But coach CHUCK PAGANO and coordinator TED MONACHINO know how to compensate: Their scheme is heavy in pressure packages and disguises. To play it you need rangy, versatile safeties and corners who can win one-on-one. That's why the Colts drafted Ohio State safety MALIK HOOKER in the first round and Florida corner QUINCY WILSON in the second.
"THEY NEED TO HAVE LUCK GET RID OF THE BALL MORE QUICKLY WITHOUT TAKING AWAY WHAT MAKES HIM EXCEPTIONAL."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
30 ANDREW LUCK QB
100 VONTAE DAVIS CB
115 T.Y. HILTON WR
205 JOHNATHAN HANKINS DT
292 JABAAL SHEARD DE
349 JOHN SIMON OLB
356 RYAN KELLY C
360 JOE HAEG T
363 JACK DOYLE TE
368 FRANK GORE RB