Big League Clew introduces you to one of the top prospects coming into this year’s NFL draft, with a little help from Jobu.
Alright football fans, we’re halfway through the college football season and entering the “2nd quarter” of the NFL season. I decided to take a different approach to discussing some college players that are already being touted by NFL scouts as top prospects. Basically, I will be breaking down some of the conversations that are already being held throughout the NCAA and NFL. For starters, we will look at the Quarterback out of Stanford University, Andrew Luck.
Who is Andrew Luck?
Considered one of the top rated passers at the college level, Andrew Luck is currently a red shirt Junior QB at Stanford. Last year, during his sophomore season, he passed for over 3,300 yard (completing over 70% of his passes), threw 32 TDs, rushed for 453 yards, and had 3 rushing touchdowns. He had scouts salivating Homer Simpson style when they were shown films of his abilities. He led the Stanford Cardinal to a 12-1 record, a win in the Orange Bowl (he was the MVP too), won the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award, and was a finalist for a slew of national collegiate football awards, including runner up for the 2010 Heisman Trophy. He drew comparisons to Steve Young and numerous sources had him pegged to be the first player selected in that April’s NFL draft.
So what is a guy like Andrew Luck to do? After deliberating the options, Luck decided to stay in school and finish up his degree in architectural design. Wait, what?! He’s not taking underwater basket weaving as a major?? Not only is he the star QB for Stanford, he is extremely brilliant and, should his career in the NFL not pan out, he will still earn a good living. Luck went on to say that he also felt the need to finish his career with the players he entered school with. What a guy… thinking about the team and not only himself. I’m very curious to know if Luck won most likely to play in the NFL, most likely to become an Architect AND best hair in his high school yearbook senior awards, because he seems to have everything going for him
Did he make the right choice?
So far in the five games that the Cardinal have played, Luck has thrown for 1,383 yards (completing almost 73% of his passes) and already thrown 14 TDs. Stanford is 5-0 with three conference wins. The question that everyone is going to ask is if he will stay and play as a 5th year senior (again he was red-shirted as a freshman and that means he has an extra year of eligibility), or will he actually leave after this season?
Again, numerous scouts already have him circled on their scouting reports as the best QB in the draft, and with at least five NFL teams already planning for next season, many are wondering where he might end up if he enters the draft. Colts owner Jim Irsay has already given his two cents and strongly indicated Monday that his team would be willing to take someone like Luck in the draft if the opportunity presents itself.
“Guys like that come along so rarely”, Irsay said. “Even if that means that guy sits for three or four years, you’d certainly think about taking him; you see what Green Bay did with (Brett) Favre and (Aaron) Rodgers and you’d like to be able to do the same thing.”
Where will his career take him?
For this section, I decided to bring in our Pro Football expert Jobu and ask him how he feels about Luck.
Who Needs a QB?
As far as I’m concerned, there are ten teams that I think would benefit from drafting a “franchise” QB like Andrew Luck. They are the following (current QB in parentheses): Washington Redskins (John Beck?), Arizona Cardinals (Kevin Kolb), Seattle Seahawks (Tarvaris Jackson), Minnesota Vikings (Christian Ponder?), Miami Dolphins (Chad Henne), Denver Broncos (Tim Tebow), Oakland Raiders (Jason Campbell), Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton), Jacksonville Jaguars (Blaine Gabbert), and the Tennessee Titans (Matt Hasselbeck).
Of these teams, the Redskins, Raiders, Bengals and Titans are over .500, which, right now, means they won’t have a high enough pick to snag Luck. Better luck next time (see what I did there?). I’m gonna go ahead and assume these teams won’t trade down, but just for the purposes of this post. It’s actually very realistic that any of them could.
The Real Contenders:
This leaves the Cardinals, Seahawks, Vikings, Dolphins, Broncos and Jaguars. The Jaguars took their current QB, rookie Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri, with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft. To me, this means they viewed him as the heir apparent to David Garrard. When they cut Garrard this pre-season, it pretty much cemented their faith in Gabbert, although Luke McCown started the first couple of games this season. Gabbert took over in week three, and has done alright for himself (717 yds, 4 TDs), so I think the Jaguars are out too.
The Seahawks signed Tarvaris Jackson to be their QB this year, letting Matt Hasselbeck go in the process. They are an interesting possibility because Jackson has played pretty well (1,012 yds, 6 TDs, 81.0 QBR), and the team is only one game under .500. They could, conceivably, turn things around. They could also tank completely. I think they’ll be somewhere in the middle, which will probably take them out of the Luck Sweepstakes. They’ll have to settle for one of the other QBs in the draft.
The Cardinals are a real contender to finish with the worst record in the NFL. Despite some close contests, they are 1-4 this season. I don’t see them turning things around. Their team isn’t that good. Their QB, Kevin Kolb, has actually been decent (1,281 yards, 5 TDs, 6INTs). I think there are great things to come from Kevin Kolb if someone can build an actual team around him. I wouldn’t give up on Kolb just yet, and I don’t think the Cardinals will either. After all, they traded a very good player in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to get him this season. If they do end up with one of the first few picks, I look for them to solidify other roster spots before the QB position.
In Minnesota, the ageless Donovan McNabb suddenly aged this past week against the Bears, and he’s given way now to Christian Ponder, a rookie out of Florida State. The Vikings, like the Broncos and Jaguars, took Ponder in the first round of last year’s draft. They will take the rest of the year to figure out if he has potential to be the man, which they are sure to do by season’s end. When it was just Old Man Mcnabb behind center, the Vikings would be in on this. With Ponder’s sudden arrival, the Vikings might be out.
This leaves, realistically, two teams: the Broncos and the Dolphins. The Broncos took a lot of heat for drafting Tim Tebow in the first round last year (some thought he might be a 6th round pick), so I don’t see them taking Luck if they end up with one of the top few picks because it would mean admitting that they made a huge mistake taking Tebow. If Tebow completely flops as the starter from here on out, then maybe they will change their minds, but for now, the Broncos are probably out.
Meanwhile on the beach, the Dolphins haven’t had a game-changing QB since Dan Marino retired, at least not in a good way. They desperately need someone to deliver them from the Jay Fiedlers, A.J. Feelys, Gus Frerrottes, Cleo Lemons and even the Chad Penningtons of the world. Chad Henne looked like he could be that guy two years ago, but in a make-or-break season for him, he’s been terrible. Almost half of his 868 yards on the season came in week one against the Pats, and unfortunately so did his only highlights.
And the Winner Is…
In the end, I really think the Dolphins will finish with the worst record, end up with the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft and take Andrew Luck to be their QB of the future. This is, of course, assuming that the Colts don’t finish winless, draft Luck and stash him behind Peyton Manning for the next four years like the Packers did with Aaron Rogers. Andrew Luck’s talents will find themselves drafted to south beach (that joke will never get old… thanks Lebron), and he’ll probably be starting by the middle of 2013.
Luck image courtesy of: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File
Newton image courtesy of: REUTERS / Brendan McDermid
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