INDIANAPOLIS — A poster hanging outside Lucas Oil Stadium still bears the image of Peyton Manning.
Inside the house Manning built, the discussion is all about his successor.
On Friday, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III finally got a chance to start making their pitches to be this year’s No. 1 draft pick and supplant Manning as the face of the Colts’ franchise though neither is ready to push him aside yet.
“Peyton was my hero growing up, he was my football hero, he’s who I modeled myself after in high school and middle school. You never truly replace a guy like that,” Luck said at the NFL’s scouting combine. “If I had the opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course you’re going to take advantage of that, absolutely.”
One of the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft might not have a choice about whether he plays or sits in 2012.
After going a league-worst 2-14, the Colts won the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, and team owner Jim Irsay has already said he intends to use the No. 1 overall pick on Indy’s next big franchise quarterback.
Luck met with Colts quarterback coach Clyde Christensen on Thursday night and will undoubtedly see more of the Colts staff this weekend. Griffin has already met with Philadelphia and has meetings scheduled with Kansas City and Cleveland, a team that might be looking to swap picks with St. Louis to take Griffin.
Coaches and general managers believe Luck, like Manning in 1998, is the more polished prospect.
“He (Luck) has got a great start,” said Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who was been watching Luck since his high school days. “He’s been coached very well. The system he’s been running is very similar to what most of the people do in pro football. He’s doing a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage. He has a good chance to be a great, great player in this league.”
Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner, is believed to have more upside, just like Ryan Leaf, who went second in the ‘98 draft.
And with scouting reports on Griffin steadily improving, the biggest concern heading into the combine was Griffin’s height. Some worried the quarterback who was listed at 6-foot-4 in high school and 6-2 at Baylor, was actually shorter.
Griffin ended any speculation about the incredible shrinking quarterback by measuring in at 6-2 3/8, 223 pounds – a point he made three times during a 15-minute question-and-answer session with reporters.
“Cam (Newton) is a bigger guy, 6-5, 240 and I’m 6-2 3/8 and 223,” Griffin said. “I’m not going to let that one go.”