NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock weighed in on projected No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck this week, and his endorsement didn’t glow:

“As far as ability, I don’t think he’s quite in the Peyton Manning mold. But I think he’s close. I think he’s got a little more ability than a Matt Ryan when he came out. But, I don’t put him up there as a once in a lifetime guy. I’ve never said that about him. I think he’s in the same category with a Bradford. . . I’m not sitting here telling you that I think he’s going to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.”

I don’t know what Mayock means by “once in a lifetime guy,” because there’s really no such thing. Manning and Brady obviously aren’t once in a lifetime guys, are they? Since they’re playing together and all? Dan Marino played during the Joe Montana era (or vice versa). The careers of Frank Tarkenton, Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr overlapped. And on and on and on.

Obviously I’m taking Mayock too literally. What he’s saying is that he doesn’t quite view Luck as a Manning or Brady. Fine. Mayock is considered to be one of the best draft analysts in the business, but predicting what category a top quarterback prospect will fall into is impossible. Cam Newton is coming off of one of the best rookie seasons of all time, yet Mayock was questioning Newton’s dedication and work ethic one year ago at this time.

Even if Luck doesn’t turn into a Brady or a Manning, he still might be worth a first overall pick. I can’t quite grasp the assumption that exists in the sports world that a No. 1 overall pick has to compare to Manning — one of the greatest top picks in NFL history. Believe it or not, there’s a first overall pick every year.

Mayock made those remarks during a two-hour media conference call yesterday. For whatever reason, the media took the “once in a lifetime” comment and ran with it, even though Mayock added within the same breath that he thinks Luck is “close” to the Manning realm and later added that he’d take Luck over Newton, even with hindsight after Newton’s record-breaking rookie campaign.

I think the biggest takeaway here is that Luck appears to be special, but he’s not surefire. We should know by now that no quarterback prospect is, but we get so lost in the hype that we often need to be reminded of this.