Luck silences doubts about throwing-arm strength in pro day drills 

click to enlarge Making an impression: Former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck runs a drill at pro day Thursday. Luck is expected to be the NFL’s top draft pick next month. - JOSEPH SCHELL/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Joseph Schell/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Making an impression: Former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck runs a drill at pro day Thursday. Luck is expected to be the NFL’s top draft pick next month.

STANFORD — Pro football IQ. Check. Accuracy. Check. Timing. Check. Deep-ball arm strength ...?

Andrew Luck dismissed any suggestion that he lacks the arm strength to be the top pick in April’s NFL draft by throwing a 75-yard strike to receiver Chris Owusu in front of a full house at Stanford’s pro day Thursday.

“Maybe arm strength isn’t his weakness after all,” tight end Coby Fleener said.

Roughly 125 NFL team representatives and more than 150 media personnel packed into the Cardinal’s practice field to watch as Luck ran through a full arsenal of NFL-caliber
passes: skinny posts, quick outs, fades, slants and several on-the-run, off-balance throws.

“The big focus was not just dropping back straight for 40 throws,” Luck said. “That’s not how it is in a game. You want to show I can do everything that’s asked of me.”

He will likely be asked to replace future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who was released by the Indianapolis Colts to make way for a new franchise quarterback. The Colts own the top pick in April’s draft.

While the Colts are widely expected to choose Luck, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III raised eyebrows at his own pro day in Waco, Texas, on Wednesday. But Luck said he isn’t thinking about which
helmet he’ll be wearing this fall.

“I’m still very focused on just making myself a better football player,” he said. “Yeah, you want to go No. 1 — who wouldn’t want to go No. 1? — but I’m trying to prepare myself for the NFL, whatever team that is.”

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder, who hold the draft’s second pick, made the trek to the Farm on Thursday, but Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who attended Griffin’s pro day, was noticeably absent. Colts offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen was on hand and said he was impressed by Luck’s indifference toward throwing into 15 to 20 mph winds.

“This guy just didn’t worry about it,” he said. “Most quarterbacks would say, ‘hey, let’s turn this thing around and go with the wind.’”

If the main event was a formality, it was the undercard that turned heads. Coby Fleener showed why he’s expected to be the first tight end drafted in April, running a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash (according to ESPN’s Todd McShay). With double-tight end sets popping up all over the league, the 6-foot-6, 247-pounder has the potential to create matchup headaches for every defensive coordinator.

“I’m very thankful for the Gronkowski’s and Jimmy Graham’s of the world for what they’ve done these past couple of years,” Fleener said. “It’s helped our tight end draft class.”

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Paul Gackle

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