Had Andrew Luck declared for the draft as a redshirt sophomore, he was all but assured of being the top pick in the draft. He shocked the Panthers, and many others in the NFL community, when he decided to return to school. Due to complete his degree next June, Luck is expected to enter the 2012 draft. The team that finishes with the worst record is all but certain to select the star quarterback, or collect the trade riches that await.
PFW analyzed the QB situations around the league and identified eight likely landing spots — the Browns, Broncos, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins. Although a number of these teams likely will not be within striking distance to land the passer, all eight have unsettled issues at the QB position and could be players in the trade market, with the 49ers being viewed as the most natural landing spot.
Rumors have been swirling since Jim Harbaugh entered the NFL coaching ranks that the competitive head coach could trade a ransom to land his star pupil. Having consulted the Manning family about his decision to stay in school, there's even a chance that Luck could become the heir apparent to Peyton Manning, provided the Colts continue their losing skid.
There's also the chance, with new regimes typically in place at the top of the draft order, that Luck could become an attractive selling point for a new head coach. Jon Gruden spent considerable time with Luck at the Manning Passing Academy this summer, and neither Gruden nor Bill Cowher is expected to return to the coaching ranks without a bona fide NFL quarterback — talent that Gruden never had the luxury of coaching during his NFL career and that Cowher recognized was a necessity for success after landing Ben Roethlisberger. Cowher did not win in Pittsburgh until the Steelers addressed the position early in the draft.
Where Luck will land, no one knows, but there has not been a quarterback as prized, accomplished and widely regarded as a surefire top pick since the Manning brothers exited college.
To read about the eight teams we believe are the ones Luck will most likely play for in 2012, buy the lastest issue of Pro Football Weekly, available in the PFW Store. The current edition of PFW also features an exclusive sneak peek at the 2012 NFL draft. PFW analyst Nolan Nawrocki takes a position-by-position look at the top prospects.