|Indy president Bill Polian doesn't think a rookie 'marquee player' will 'come in and contribute immediately.' (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
The Colts are on a collision course with 0-16. This eventuality means a couple things: the inglorious end to the Jim Caldwell era and, quite possibly, the beginning of the end to the Peyton Manning era because Indianapolis will almost certainly draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first-overall pick.
Except that, unlike Caldwell, Manning's Colts career might not already be over. Any number of variables will determine his future -- his health and the $28 option bonus he's due in March chief among them. And based on recent comments by team president Bill Polian, any scenario that has Luck playing as a rookie is a scenario that's fraught with possible disappointment.
“If we were to take a rookie quarterback [in the 2012 draft] and if we were to play him, he would struggle," Polian said during his weekly radio show, according to the TribStar.com. "Remember, Peyton was 3-13 his rookie year. He did not really look like the quarterback that he became until, ironically, this time of year in Baltimore [in 1998] where we lost a shootout [38-31]. ...
“It’s going to take any rookie, whether it be [2011 first-round draft pick] Anthony Castonzo [at left offensive tackle] or anyone else, a good long time, one year to get their feet under them and really know what the National Football League is all about," he continued. "Then you have an off-season program and the second year [and] now he’s ready to contribute. No matter who we draft next year, there’s going to be a break in period for them. You won’t see the real quality of that player until a year later and in some cases, depending upon what the system is and how he fits. It takes time for young players to develop,” he added.
“Even if we were to draft a marquee player in the first round, no matter who it is, that guy’s not going to come in and contribute immediately, unless he were a running back. That’s the exception.”
That's a great theory except for names like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and in the last few weeks, T.J. Yates, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. As for rookies who don't play quarterback or running back there's: A.J. Green, Aldon Smith, Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones and Mike Pouncey, (see where we're going with this?).
So, yes, Polian's partially right -- there is a break-in period with rookies -- but it's a stretch to say that we won't "see the real quality of that player" for at least a year.
Also worth considering: if Luck truly is the best quarterback prospect since John Elway, it's all the more reason to get him on the field immediately and let him learn by doing. What's the downside? The Colts can't lose more than 16 games in a regular season. Plus, after Peyton's 3-13 effort as a rookie he went 13-3 in Year 2. And from 2000-2011, the Colts made the playoffs 10 of 11 times.
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