Welcome back to the Devil's Advocate!
I tried this series early on in my tenure here at Bleacher Report, and while I was satisfied with the results, it was clear to me that many readers just didn't get the concept. I temporarily retired the feature while I tried to work out how to make it more accessible.
Today it's back, and I want to start with a concept that should be easy to understand. I am not going to write an article called, "Why the Colts Did a Good Job Drafting Andrew Luck." That article would be subtitled, "Every Draft Article Written for the Past Six Months, with the Exception of People Trying to Stir the Pot About RG3."
No, there is really no reason to lay out why Luck was a great pick. However, just for the sake of argument, let's talk about what happens if he isn't a great pick.
There are basically three believable ways that Andrew Luck can fail. Obviously, he could wig out a la Jeff George or Ryan Leaf, but not even the Devil is going to try to convince you that's going to happen. No, Luck is about as sound as a gold-backed greenback.
That doesn't mean it's impossible for him to fail.
1. Luck Could Get Hurt
While it would be hard to fault the Colts for drafting Luck even if he got hurt, he is a mobile quarterback.
No, he's not likely to go hurdling down field like Randall Cunningham, but he will take off and run. Stanford readjusted the offense last year to keep him in the pocket more, but when the NFL rush comes at him, Luck may bolt.
An injury-plagued career would be the worst-case scenario for Indy. If it turns out that Luck just isn't a good player, the Colts will know soon enough. It only takes a couple of seasons to know if your first-round pick is a bust.
If Luck starts getting dinged, however, the Colts could waste four or five seasons hoping for him to stay healthy. Winning with instability at the quarterback position is difficult at best, and it could lead to a new Dark Age for fans of the Horse.
2. Luck Could Be Good...ish
Drew Bledsoe had a wonderful NFL career. He took his team to the Super Bowl, won a big playoff game for the Patriots late in his career, compiled huge volume totals and went to Pro Bowls.
Tom Brady was better, but Bledsoe never had to deal with the pressure of that comparison until he was already on the way out.
I believe the floor for Luck's career is Bledsoe-esque. The Colts probably don't have to worry about him being a total bust, but what if he never becomes more than pretty darn OK?
The pressure of following Peyton Manning and never becoming a true star could be tremendous. Luck will always have the comparison hanging over him in a way that few men this side of Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers could ever understand.
If Luck turns out to be just a good solid quarterback and not a true star, neither he nor the Colts will live it down. He will always be a disappointment.
3. Griffin or Manning Could Be Incredible
Let's say Andrew Luck is better than Bledsoe. Let's say he's more like Eli Manning. He has a nice career, maybe he even lucks into a ring along the way. There's no way the Colts can lose, right?
Wrong. If Peyton Manning wins an MVP and/or a Super Bowl with Denver, there will be fans who will never forgive the franchise for letting him go.
If Robert Griffin proves to be not just incrementally better than Luck, but becomes the next Steve Young or John Elway, then the Colts will forever look like fools for passing on him.
The fact is that short of being an all-time great himself, there are still plenty of ways for Luck to wind up looking like a failure for the Colts.
The consequences for failure are always high in the NFL, but Indy fans are not uniformly happy about the selection of Luck. The franchise hopes to contain the discontent, but if Luck turns out to be something less than everything they promised, there will be years of recrimination and bad blood in Indianapolis.
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