|Tim Heitman/US Presswire|
|John Elway went from college star at Stanford to NFL star in Denver. Will Andrew Luck follow the same path?|
We've already tackled the top of the standings in our week-long season preview. Now it's time to turn our attention to the bottom. Which team will win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and pick first in the 2012 NFL Draft?
John Elway scenario?Many moons ago a young gunslinger left the Stanford campus and landed in Denver to begin a Hall of Fame career. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see it happen again this spring (minus the shunning of the Baltimore Colts, of course).
Despite the drafting of a QB in the second round this year, you'll never convince me Niners coach Jim Harbaugh won't want to get his hands on his prized pupil again -- especially at the reduced rate of the new rookie system. And the Dolphins would be silly not to explore options to land him as well, even if it requires parting with a ton of picks.
But the reality is not that many teams will be in this market -- just look at how many clubs have paid or drafted a passer the past few years -- and if a retooling team like Denver or Buffalo lands him, it would take a massive cache of players and picks to pry that first overall pick away.
Seahawks, Niners in the mixThere definitely seems to be some strong contenders here. This is where we get teed off on by these teams' fans, but they might need a reality check as well. I hope I am wrong because I'm not one to enjoy picking a team or a person's failure but...
The leading contenders are Luck's old college coach Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers. It's hard to figure out where they're headed, but unless Alex Smith is playing possum, their quarterback inconsistency is going to keep them from making much headway. Seattle could be in the hunt, too. I like some of the things I see with Seattle's defense, but offensively they have a lot of holes.
You'd think the Broncos would be better than last season, but there is some serious work to be done there -- work that might not be cured until they get a quarterback like Luck on board. The Bills, as much as I simply have a hunch that they'll be a surprise team, also could be, well, the Bills, and end up with the No. 1 overall pick.
Panthers worst, but Seahawks will get LuckyThe winner of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes -- assuming that he comes out after this year -- will be none other than the Carolina Panthers who will give up on their second quarterback in as many years leaving them with a roster of Luck, Jimmy Clausen and Cam Newton.
Yes, I am just kidding, but barely.
But the Panthers will be the worst team in the league, which means the team with the second pick will get a chance at Luck. That team will be the Seahawks. Coach Pete Carroll was not in the running for Luck in 2008 when he signed with Stanford, but something tells me Carroll won't let him get away this time.
Panthers could start bidding warAssuming Andrew Luck doesn't get injured and doesn't take a Jake Locker-like tumble from the top, the interesting scenario is the Panthers winding up with the top spot. Already with a franchise QB in Cam Newton, Carolina could open up a bidding war for the rights to the spot. Look for the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos to do whatever it takes to get Luck.
Far-fetched but fun scenario2011 NFC cellar dwellers: Carolina, Seattle, Minnesota, New York Giants. 2011 AFC cellar dwellers: Buffalo, Cincy, Denver, Jacksonville.
As for who will be chasing Andrew Luck, how 'bout some reckless and extreme speculation?
Let's say I'm right that the Giants, because of all the big injuries they've already suffered, bring up the rear in the East. New Yorkers will call for the heads of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning.
Now let's say the Colts get out of the gate slowly with Kerry Collins at the helm. Let's further assume Joseph Addai and Donald Brown fail to provide any relief on the ground. Peyton Manning forces his way back into the lineup too early and takes some shots on his weak neck because of lousy protection on the left side of the line and is forced to the sidelines. Indy implodes. The Colts finally acknowledge the need to look for Manning's successor.
That'd mean the two teams with a Manning under center could be battling each other to get Luck.
Unlikely? Sure. Impossible? As the last three years of Michael Vick's career have taught us, nothing's impossible in the NFL.