Draft Stanford's Andrew Luck or trade it away?
Obviously, the Colts will benefit from either route they take; the issue is which decision will benefit them more? They're obviously in the need for a quarterback regardless of Peyton Manning's health; even if he plays in 2012, Indianapolis needs a reliable backup.
However, are any of those guys worth backing up Peyton Manning or starting for the Colts if Manning goes elsewhere?
Andrew Luck should be—and must be—that guy for Circle City.
If Peyton Manning remains, Indianapolis must draft Luck for the future and mold him. He will then hit the ground running, so to speak, whenever Manning retires and will keep the Colts competitive, at the very least.
And if Manning does go elsewhere, the Colts need to start over at quarterback anyway.
Luck is good enough to start over Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky right now, and based on how well some rookies did this season—namely Cam Newton and Andy Dalton—Luck has just as much potential.
Now if the Colts do trade away that pick, well, they will miss out on the draft's best prospect—but Baylor's Robert Griffin would suffice a few picks down. Plus, trading down this pick would allow them to stock up in 2012 and/or 2013.
So the finality of it all comes down to having Andrew Luck or a few more picks.
In this case, though, Indianapolis must go with quality over quantity—because when you desperately need a young quarterback and that position also has the draft's best prospect, you draft that player.
Obviously, the NFL Draft is an inexact science, too. It's a risk to draft a player that you're supposed to draft, especially when the expectations are high.
Then again, every pick is a risk; so is looking into the free-agent market. The safest and most developmental route is to draft Andrew Luck. He has all the tangibles and intangibles you want in a quarterback, so whether he backs Manning or starts, it's really a win-win situation for the Colts.
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