Since late last season, Andrew Luck established himself as the top quarterback prospect in whichever class he ended up declaring in. Having passed on the draft last year, the redshirt junior is largely expected to make the 2011 season his last at the college level.
Let's be honest - if you haven't heard of "Suck for Luck" by now, you're probably not reading this. SB Nation readers are deep enough in the game to have at least come across this cliche a hundred (if not a couple hundred) times by now. Yes, it's the hackneyed quote referring to a team racing toward the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft with the implication being they would be in position to either select Luck or trade the pick should that team have a viable QB for the future already on the roster.
But what if I told you the first pick might not end up being either of those? What if the first or even first two players in the draft have nothing do with Andrew Luck and it could instead hinge on the third pick?
It's not the most likely scenario, but it's one worth bearing in mind at least as much as LuckSuckage. I explain after the jump.
Dan's piece from yesterday centered on the Vikings and their potential dilemma in choosing between Luck and a second-year Christian Ponder. It's not just Minnesota though who could be in the mix that might opt to pass on selecting Luck.
Yes, it's early, and things will shake out significantly differently than they exist today; nevertheless, the S4L campaign is more complex than just losing the most games to earn the top draft pick next April. Here are all the NFL teams with a losing record and their starting/top/future/whateverlanguageyouneedtoincludePeyton QB:
|Team||Wins||Solid 2012 option|
|Jacksonville||1||Yes (Blaine Gabbert)|
|Arizona||1||Maybe (Kevin Kolb)|
|Philadelphia||1||Yes (Michael Vick)|
|Carolina||1||Yes (Cam Newton)|
|St. Louis||0||Yes (Sam Bradford)|
|Minnesota||0||Yes (Christian Ponder)|
|Indianapolis||0||Maybe (Peyton Manning)|
There are some obvious arguments to made, so spare me a modicum of license here. Sure, the maybes (Kevin Kolb in Arizona and Peyton Manning in Indy) are easy to attack. Kolb signed a monstrous six-year deal, though that might not necessarily prevent the Cardinals from taking Luck. It would be an interesting capitulation on a QB in whom Arizona invested so heavily. And Peyton's injury and subsequent treatment has already tanked the Colts; if the year off and further treatment gets him to a point where he can enter the 2012 season at 100%, would the Colts be more interested in spending their 1st round pick at another position? I could even entertain a spirited response for Denver, but this is hardly the place to have the 3,034,661st Tebow thread.
What it does mean is that there are five teams with a solid QB in place for 2012, all under contract. There are two on the fence, both under contract. And there are four teams who, in my estimation, wouldn't hesitate to take Luck at #1 should they end up with the pick.
Only those latter four teams would be the most eager to trade for Luck. Why would Indianapolis spend draft picks for a quarterback when it's obvious their team has more issues to deal with than just QB on top of a potential Manning return (and yes, if his rehabilitation does end his career, it changes this entirely)?
If only four out of these eleven teams would be looking to move up, that would leave seven who would likely pass on Luck to potentially bolster their receiving corps with South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffrey or add a pass rush threat at DE like Quinton Coples (though I'm far from sold) or add premier LT talent in Matt Kalil. Seven teams who might pass on Luck. Where would the trade come from? Unless there's an all-out bidding war in which the top team kicks back and let's the suitors go back and forth, the call's going to go to the second or third of those seven teams.
So hypothetically (and only hypothetically; don't bust your vas deferens on the order here, Jags fans), let's say the order rolls like this:
Now everyone knows that if Luck's there, Miami would take him at #3. But included in everyone is every NFL team that would want Luck, so they would at least have to move up to #2. But #1? Would Jacksonville take Luck if they couldn't shop him? Given how much Jags fans seem to be buying into Gabbert, that doesn't seem likely after week 4 early though it may be.
The bottom line is this: Andrew Luck is hardly a lock to be the #1 overall pick. And for teams who are Sucking But Not For Luck Just Because They Suck (SBNFLJBTS), the best chance to trade away a valuable pick for more draft capital may not be at #1 either.