AP source: Colts picking Andrew Luck at No. 1

The secret is out.

Andrew Luck will be the Indianapolis Colts’ new quarterback.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation said Thursday

that the Colts have notified Luck that they plan to take the

Stanford quarterback with the No. 1 pick in next week’s NFL draft

barring some unforeseen event between now and then. The person

spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly

disclosed its plan.

It’s hardly a surprise that the Colts are turning to Luck as the

cornerstone of their massive rebuilding project. Luck was projected

as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft before returning to school for

his fourth season. He gave up his final year of college eligibility

to enter this year’s draft, which was dubbed the Andrew Luck

Sweepstakes from the start.

Contract negotiations are not expected to begin before the

draft, the person familiar with the situation told the AP. Will

Wilson, Luck’s agent, did not immediately respond to phone messages

or text messages Thursday.

”We’ve exhausted the process,” new Indy general manager Ryan

Grigson told reporters Wednesday. ”We’ve pretty much made up our

minds and we’re going to go from there. We feel good about it and

we’ll go from there.”

Grigson acknowledged that the Colts made their decision ”a

little while” ago, though he declined to say whether the Colts

would take Luck or Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of

Baylor.

The secret lasted less than 24 hours. ESPN.com first reported

that the Colts’ had informed Luck they will take him. That would

likely send Griffin to the Redskins, who traded a first- and

second-round pick this year and first-rounders each of the next two

years to St. Louis to move into the No. 2 slot.

Luck faces a challenging situation in Indy, which went 2-14 last

season after Peyton Manning was lost with a season-ending injury

that required neck surgery.

Manning was released March 7 and eventually signed with Denver,

and Luck will now serve as Manning’s successor.

He may get off to a rough start through no fault of his own.

”I believe Andrew may struggle early simply because of the

surrounding cast playing with him,” said Colts former vice

chairman Bill Polian, acknowledging both rookies will have their

share of problems in 2012. ”It was nowhere near where Peyton’s

was, and he went 3-13. I think Andrew will struggle more because of

the receivers around him. Only Reggie (Wayne) and Austin (Collie)

are back.”

Still, Luck was the obvious choice as Manning’s successor all

along.

A pro-style pocket quarterback, Luck threw for 35 touchdowns

last season – breaking his school record of 32 a year ago – and

eclipsed John Elway’s career record (77) at Stanford with 80

touchdown passes in only three years.

He finished with 3,170 yards passing, a 70 percent completion

percentage and only nine interceptions without the benefit of an

elite wide receiver. In a 41-38 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State,

Luck was brilliant again, going 27 of 31 passing for 347 yards and

two touchdowns with an interception.

And while the Colts sent a larger contingent of scouts to

Griffin’s pro day, it was Luck who had a private workout for the

Colts and traveled to Indianapolis for a personal interview.

Griffin did not, Grigson explained, partly because the Colts had

already made their decision.

What the Colts will get with Luck is a skilled player who’s had

an extra year to mature from 2011, when even then he might have

been drafted ahead of Auburn star Cam Newton.

”I tend to think because of my position as an AD at a Division

I school that spending a full four years is going to benefit almost

every player, not just from a football standpoint but walking away

with a degree is important in today’s world, too,” West Virginia

athletic director Oliver Luck, Andrew’s father, said Wednesday.

”The emotional development that comes with completing the cycle

with the class that you came in with, I think that last aspect is

very special.

”Plus, I think the vast majority of cases, it’s beneficial to

come back and play that third and fourth year in many cases,” he

added.

Luck will be far from the only new face in Indy.

Grigson replaced the father-son front office tandem of Bill and

Chris Polian in January, then brought in new coach Chuck Pagano to

replace the fired Jim Caldwell. Pagano has almost an entirely new

staff, and some players have even found new spots for their

lockers.

The biggest change, of course, is not seeing No. 18 around

town.

Two days after Manning’s release, the Colts cut other veterans

including defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt, Pro

Bowl tight end Dallas Clark and running back Joseph Addai. Longtime

center Jeff Saturday, receiver Pierre Garcon and backup tight end

Jacob Tamme all left in free agency.

Now, the Colts are looking to start fresh.

”Barring any unforeseen problem we’re pretty sure what

direction we want to go. Barring any unforeseen event, we know what

we’re doing,” Grigson said.