INDIANAPOLIS –The NFL Draft was about three minutes old when Indianapolis selected Stanford's Andrew Luck.
While the announcement did not hold much suspense, it did create elation in a number people, one of whom is Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano.
Pagano was added as the club's field leader on January 25. He will be starting his 29th season in the profession, but his first one as the field general. Pagano spoke publicly just moments after Luck's selection, and it was the new head coach who felt fortunate.
"I feel like the luckiest man in the world right now," said the personable Pagano. "It's an obviously great time, an exciting time. We've got our man in the fold. Most everybody felt like it was a foregone conclusion months ago, but I tip my hat to (General Manager) Ryan (Grigson), (Vice President of Football Operations) Tommy Telesco and the rest of the scouting staff. You can't imagine the hours, the man hours that went into this process. Not only evaluating the quarterbacks and Andrew (Luck) and going through that whole process, but everybody else in this draft. … They did a fantastic job and what we found out in the end was we did get the very best football player, the very best quarterback in this year's draft. We feel great about Andrew being in the fold."
Pagano will set sail with Luck on the roster. It is likely that he will move among the front-liners in quick fashion. The process should start next week when the club holds a rookie camp. Luck will be one of the headliners.
"We've feel like he can digest a lot and handle a lot, so he's maybe a little bit different (than other rookies) in that respect," said Pagano. "Kind of what we have done with our players to this point…we're throwing everything at them. Then we'll go back and revisit it and break it down piece-by-piece and re-install things.
"I think Andrew (Luck) can handle a ton of information. The more that he can handle, the more we'll give him."
Pagano and the coaching staff are looking forward to having Luck get immersed with his teammates and in the playbook. He knows Luck is a willing and gifted pupil.
"I know Andrew is obviously eager. Our coaches are eager," said Pagano. "Obviously, he'll be here this (next) weekend for the rookie mini-camp and so forth. He's got a great football IQ. He's very, very intelligent and you only have to tell him one time and he gets it and moves on fast. He won't have a problem digesting and learning the offensive system."
Luck will be joining a team that has lost a number of veterans from past teams. Indianapolis also has brought in eight players through unrestricted free agency or trades since the end of last season.
On Thursday, Grigson tabbed Luck as a "once in a decade" kind of player. Pagano shares the assessment.
"Absolutely, it's hard to find," said Pagano of the opportunity to select a premier quarterback. "I think this thing happened 14 years ago (with Peyton Manning), and it's all happening once again, right before our eyes. You can talk about the measurables, his (Luck's) football IQ, his character, his integrity, his passion for the game, his work ethic.
"He grew up in a football family. He's a worldly guy. He's been all over, raised all over. He is very, very humble and a great leader. He's very passionate. He's very, very competitive. When you look at it and you talk about height, weight, speed, intelligence, if you want to label him a '9' or '10' in every one of those categories, you probably can. I would agree with what Ryan (Grigson) said, wholeheartedly."