Would Indianapolis pass on Andrew Luck if they pick first overall?
The Colts are drifting towards an 0-16 season and the obvious conclusion is they’ll draft Andrew Luck as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning. It’s a complete formality, right?
Manning will have four years left to run on a $90m contract in 2012, taking him through to the age of forty. Holding a clipboard for 3-4 years may not sit well with a young player who would otherwise expect to start quickly. I can’t see the Luck camp accepting such a situation, where essentially he’s cast into the wilderness indefinitely. Every quarterback can benefit learning from a guy like Manning, but the NFL and everyone working for Luck will want him part of the league now, not in 2015.
Peyton Manning essentially built the Indianapolis Colts and as we’ve seen this year, he’s made a bad team a perennial contender. It’s not just the on-field success either – that new stadium is down to Manning’s impact. The fact they sell season tickets is down to Manning. The front office and coaching staff owe their reputations to Manning. Is his reward going to be an on-going quarterback controversy until he finally retires?
It also makes little sense for Indy to contemplate keeping Luck as potential trade bait if Manning does make a full recovery. If you’re going to get a package of picks for the guy, get them so they can help the elite quarterback you already own. The Colts made their $90m commitment to Manning knowing he had an injury – they will surely stand by the man that has basically made several undeserved reputations?
A trade might be more likely than you first think. Of course it sounds great – draft Luck and have this seamless progression at quarterback. The reality is much more complicated and I doubt the Luck camp will sit by quietly and encourage a situation where the man is kept off a football field. It’s unusual to have a team still in possession of a quarterback like Manning being quite this bad, even in his absence. A team like Cleveland withtwo first round picks in 2012 could be an ideal trade partner. Clevelands send the two #1’s to Indianapolis and their first rounder in 2013 for the rights to Luck. Holmgren gets his quarterback, Indy has four first round picks in 2012 and 2013 to stock up for 3-4 more title tilts with Peyton. They’d also still have plenty of time to groom an eventual replacement, it just won’t be the most high profile college quarterback since Manning himself.
It’d make real sense for the Browns who need a quarterback and a.) have a pretty good offensive line and b.) spent three high picks in the last two years building their defense (Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard). Sure, they’d be losing three potential first rounders – but what an opportunity to draft a quarterback to make that franchise relevant. Luck would surely jump at the chance to work on Holmgren’s patch as a day one starter and it’s a team he can quickly make his own. Indianapolis could add a pair of impact players on offense in 2012 (Trent Richardson? David DeCastro?) while maintaining two further first round picks the following year – either of which could still be spent on a quarterback for the future.
Like I said, I have a hard time imagining the Luck camp accepting a situation where their man is benched for the foreseeable future and kept in the shadows. It may still be unlikely, but it also makes a lot of sense for all concerned. It might not be a foregone conclusion though that a trade is impossible and a team like Cleveland has the ammunition to make it happen.
Root for Miami to pick first overall
Seahawks fans need to hope the Miami Dolphins are picking first overall next April. Why? Because if they don’t have a shot at Andrew Luck, they’ll almost certainly be drafting the next best quarterback on the board – Matt Barkley. If the top two guys leave the board that early, it could cause a rush on quarterbacks even greater than last year. Even picking 8th overall (as Seattle would if the season ended now) could possibly only be good enough for the fourth best quarterback. Remember, there isn’t a string of elite defensive players in this year’s class to draw attention away from the quarterbacks.
This is how bizarre the situation could be – put Miami at #1 instead of the Colts and Barkley could realistically fall to the Seahawks in that #8 overall range. There’s no guarantee Indianapolis will simply go for the next best quarterback if Luck is gone – I’d say it’s unlikely the Colts would just turn to Barkley. St. Louis, Arizona, Jacksonville, Carolina and Minnesota aren’t drafting a quarterback in 2012 – leaving teams like Seattle, Denver and Washington (among others) to scrap it out.
Certainly it could make life a lot easier for the Seahawks if Miami had the #1 overall pick and not Indianapolis.
NFL Mocks interview
This week I took some time to talk to Jesse Bartolis at NFL Mocks. You can see the Q&A session here and don’t forget to make Jesse’s site a regular part of your draft intake.
An alternative take on Luck vs Barkley
Wes Bunting at the NFP has a good write up on Saturday’s Stanford vs USC encounter. I agree with a lot of what Wes has to say here, particularly the assessment of how Luck performed and how it may help his continued development.
Tony Pauline’s Draft Insider is a must visit – absolutely integral reading. Tony published his quarterback rankings this week with four players graded in round one – Luck, Barkley, Robert Griffin and Landry Jones. I agree with the order of the top three – although I’m still debating where I actually want to grade Griffin. I’m a little disappointed that Pauline moved away from his pre-season mid-round grade for Oklahoma’s Jones, although this may be based on what he’s hearing from some NFL scouts. I suspect Jones will divide opinion among the teams, with some grading him much higher than others. My own rankings would be slightly different after the top three – Austin Davis at Southern Miss would be my fourth ranked quarterback ahead of both Jones and Ryan Tannehill.