As the Andrew Luck sweepstakes roll into the final month of the 2011 NFL regular season, the Indianapolis Colts have all but clinched the top pick in the draft. Although there are five teams within three games of the Colts, there are only five games remaining so the odds of the Colts winning multiple games are fairly slim. The Colts are making some changes heading into these final games, but it seems highly unlikely that they will win more than a game or two.
The 2011 college football season is much closer to its conclusion, with only conference championships and bowl season remaining. Once college football ends, the 2012 NFL Draft season will begin. Detailed assessments of every pick from Andrew Luck down to players that will be signed as undrafted free agents will crank up a notch during bowl season and go into overdrive with postseason all-star games, the NFL combine and individual workouts and interviews.
Throughout this process, Andrew Luck will be poked, prodded and questioned. Beyond that, he will be compared to the other quarterback draft prospects. That has, in fact, already begun as folks like National Football Post are comparing him to Oklahoma QB Landry Jones and USC QB Matt Barkley.
Based on most comparisons to date, Andrew Luck is considered the sure-fire number one pick in the draft. Will this last through the draft season? When you add in potential draft eligible juniors like Trent Richardson, it creates all sorts of questions about the top of the draft board.
More importantly for teams close to the top pick, it could very well lower the trade value of the number one overall pick, or at least give the Colts some measure of pause in how they use it. The Colts have a big question mark at the quarterback position if Peyton Manning retires or considers himself a year or two from retirement. At the same time, they have numerous other holes that clearly were being overlooked thanks to the prominent of Peyton Manning in recent years
The 2012 NFL Draft is looking fairly deep at a variety of positions, including quarterback. If you are the Indianapolis Colts, how much would it take to consider dealing back from the number one pick? Conceivably you could still land another QB while also filing numerous holes in the roster. I have to think the Colts will at least kick the tires on some of the other quarterbacks in the draft. A deal down could still net one of the other name quarterbacks in the draft, while also setting up the Colts to fill numerous holes with high round picks.
One of the intriguing aspects of this year's draft is the new rookie salary cap. It was implemented for last year's draft class, but nobody really knew what to expect when the draft actually happened since the lockout was ongoing at the time. Now, if Andrew Luck is deemed the consensus number one and a franchise QB, the value of the pick skyrockets even further.
If a 31-year old Carson Palmer can potentially net the Cincinnati Bengals two first-round picks, can you imagine what the Colts could get for the number one overall pick? It seems unlikely that they would deal the chance to get Andrew Luck, but if they get a Herschel Walker-style Godfather offer, can they say no?
Projected 2012 NFL Draft Top Five Picks
Week 13 Andrew Luck Sweepstakes Schedule
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Denver Broncos @ Minnesota Vikings
Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars