Luck and a horseshoe. Some things just go together perfectly.
After months of waiting, the Indianapolis Colts finally made Andrew Luck’s NFL dream official on Thursday night, selecting Luck with the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
While Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson had already announced that the Colts would select Luck earlier in the week, the Stanford star said the moment he’d been anticipating for over two years was still an exciting one.
“It was great. It was everything I ever though it would be,” Luck told ESPN. “I can’t wait to start with the Colts.”
Proudly displaying a blue Colts hat and horseshoe lapel pin, Luck’s message to Indianapolis fans was to “hope for the best” and promised that he would “come in and work hard” for his new team.
“I feel so honored, so grateful to represent this city now and be a part of the team,” he said.
Luck is the fourth No. 1 overall draft pick to come out of Stanford, following Bobby Garrett, the first pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1954, Jim Plunkett, the Oakland Raiders’ choice in 1971, and John Elway, who garnered a trade to the Denver Broncos after being picked first by the Baltimore Colts in 1983.
For now, Luck will be tasked with taking over a team that went 2-14 last year, as well as replacing future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, who was released by the team after missing the entirety of the 2011-2012 season with a neck injury.
“I realize you could go crazy trying to just measure yourself to Peyton Manning every day,” Luck told the Colts’ official website. “I don’t think that would be a sane way to live…I’ll just try and put my best foot forward and work hard every day. One day, if I can be mentioned alongside Peyton Manning as one of the quarterback greats, that would be a football dream come true.”
The redshirt junior quarterback was the 19th Stanford player to ever be picked in the first round, and the first Cardinal player to be picked in the first round since the 49ers selected offensive tackle Kwame Harris with the 26th pick in 2003.
Luck is expected to sign a four-year, $22 million deal with the Colts later this week, a contract comparable to that of last year’s number one pick, the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton.
After Luck finally put on the Colts’ blue and white, he didn’t have to wait long to see one of his Cardinal teammates join him in the NFL, as the Pittsburgh Steelers selected guard David DeCastro with the 24th pick.
Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert said it was a “no-brainer” pick that late in the draft, as the tough, physical guard was expected to be picked in the middle of the first round.
“Really, we didn’t think David would be there at [the 24th pick]. We valued him very high,” Colbert told the Steelers’ official website. “As we said the other day, there were a few special players in this group that we thought would be easy to evaluate and he was one of them.”
“I went into the thing with no expectations,” DeCastro said of his unexpected slide. “The draft has so many variables. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I am just thankful that I am on a great team and a great franchise. I am just excited.”
Luck and DeCastro both going in the first round marks the first time since 1992 that two Stanford players were selected in the first round, when the Atlanta Falcons picked tackle Bob Whitfield with the eighth pick, and the Browns took fullback Tommy Vardell with the ninth pick.
But while Luck and DeCastro now know where they’ll be playing for the next few seasons, fellow Cardinal teammates Coby Fleener and Jonathan Martin must wait until this evening to have their names called, as the two highly rated prospects both slipped out of the trade-filled first round.
While both Fleener and Martin should go in the first 10 or 15 picks of the second round, a first round that could have been filled with four Stanford players was instead left curiously devoid of Cardinal, as several teams reached for prospects that were far less highly regarded than either Fleener or Martin.
The NFL draft resumes Friday, April 27 at 4 p.m. PST, at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.