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Different paths with top QBs

Updated: December 11, 2013 6:58AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck delivered on his promise as the NFL’s top draft pick. He took the Colts to the playoffs last season and has them in position to win a division title this year.

St. Louis is still waiting for Sam Bradford to produce the same kind of results.

What could have been a showdown between the two former No. 1 picks Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium is instead more of an example of why there are no sure bets in the draft.

“Nobody missed that guess,” new Rams starter Kellen Clemens said when asked to assess Luck. “I think the biggest thing that stands out when you look at the body of work he’s done is his composure in the fourth quarter. That’s a feather in any quarterback’s cap.”

Bradford hasn’t been bad.

The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner set NFL rookie records for completions and attempts en route to winning the 2010 offensive rookie of the year award — two awards Luck did not capture. He just hasn’t been as lucky as the Colts quarterback.

Luck landed with a team that already had veteran leadership, a proven Pro Bowl receiver he could lean on, the two top tight ends in the draft and coaching continuity. The result has been a steady progression with Luck improving his touchdown total, trimming his interceptions and continuing to win.

Bradford, meanwhile, played for two head coaches and three offensive coordinators in his first three NFL seasons. This season, he was trying to get in sync with a whole new cast — free agent tight end Jared Cook, rookie receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and rookie running back Zac Stacy — when he tore the ACL in his left knee against in a victory at Houston. Out for the season.

At the time, St. Louis was 3-3. Since Clemens took over, the Rams have lost three straight.

Meanwhile, Luck has thrived. Last season, he produced the second biggest turnaround in league history and this year the Colts (6-2) are in control of the division chase. The Colts are not surprised that Luck has lived up to the hype.

“He’s definitely got the ‘it’ factor,” coach Chuck Pagano said of his franchise quarterback. “Besides the measurables, height, weight, speed, athleticism, arm talent, intangibles, football IQ, leadership, all those type of things you look for — guys that are poised, in command — some guys have it and some guys don’t. And it’s pretty easy and pretty obvious to see early in a guy’s career.”



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