Mario Williams and Andrew Luck have a lot more in common than being No. 1 picks in their respective draft classes. Heading into 2012, both players find themselves in a situation in which they have a lot to prove.
Both Williams and Luck figure to be the face of their respective NFL franchise in 2012. And with that comes a lot of pressure and responsibility.
Williams is expected to bring life back into Buffalo and help the Bills reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Luck has big shoes to fill since he is not only replacing Peyton Manning, but Manning was released to make way for Luck.
This debate analyzes each player's situation and explains all that goes into it. Your job as the reader is to carefully read each argument and decide the "winner" yourself. Leave your opinion in the comment section to decide who really has more pressure and more to prove in 2012.
Here is each player's argument:
Argument for Mario Williams
The Bills made Williams the richest defensive free-agent signing in NFL history with a six-year, $100 million deal. This signing was significant for several reasons.
First, the Bills proved that Buffalo was no joke. Williams, the prized free agent on the market, chose to go to Buffalo first. And he wouldn't leave. The Bills kept Williams in Buffalo for days and he even brought his fiancée up to check out Buffalo. This signing proved to potential future free agents that Buffalo isn't a joke and if the top free agent signed there, it can't be all bad.
Let's not forget that the Bills signed Williams to play football, not be some publicity stunt or something like that. They opened their wallet and dished out millions of dollars. Now Williams will not only have to prove he is worth the money, he will have to please fans in a city where optimism is at an all-time high.
The Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999, the longest streak in the NFL. Coaching flaws, lousy players and management woes have contributed to this stretch. Now that Williams is a Bill, the defensive end is burdened with the responsibility of taking the Bills to the postseason.
Years of torment in Buffalo are now expected to be reversed due to the signing of a defensive end. Most NFL fans will look at Williams' stats to determine if he succeeded. But what if Williams draws so much attention and registers only two sacks while opening up teammates for success? The rest of the league will only see his two sacks and call him a bust.
For fans to truly consider Williams a success, he will have to have stats similar to what he did in Houston. He will have to take the Bills to the playoffs, facing the same type of pressure as Ryan Fitzpatrick.
If Williams struggles or doesn't lead Buffalo to the playoffs, the Bills would have wasted so much concentration and money. Maybe fans finally turn on their beloved Bills and just lose it. All of this will be determined by a defensive end who can rescue a city deprived of winning for over a decade.
The responsibility of turning a decade of losing into a season of winning falls on Williams' shoulders, but is he strong enough to deal with it?
Argument for Andrew Luck
Luck is supposed to be the hottest quarterback coming out of college since John Elway. He has been the prized prospect for years and even inspired several "Suck for Luck" campaigns.
Well, the 2011 Indianapolis Colts shocked the world and won the sweepstakes for the Stanford star. They then decided to part ways with Peyton Manning and start from scratch.
Parting ways with Manning meant parting ways with the player who took the city to two Super Bowls, winning one. This includes parting ways with the only four-time MVP. A player who led the city to seven consecutive 12-plus-win seasons and nine consecutive playoff appearances. They got rid of a Hall of Famer who was the best thing to ever happen to the team and perhaps the city.
And they did this all for an unproven quarterback. They chose Luck, a kid from Stanford, over Manning, perhaps the best regular-season quarterback of all time.
College superstars can fail miserably in the NFL, just look at Ryan Leaf or Jamarcus Russell. The Colts had so much faith in Luck that they decided to make him their man and start him from day one.
Luck will now always be expected to be like Manning and everything he does will be compared to Manning. He must prove that he is capable of being a quality NFL starter.
Though there is little argument against the Colts taking Luck, if Manning has a good season in Denver, the media will be all over Luck and all over Indy.
The whole state of the franchise is molded around Luck. Fan favorites and studs like Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Gary Brackett were let go to make the team younger. Pierre Garçon walked out and the Colts were lucky Reggie Wayne did not go, too.
Now Luck must prove he is worth the complete roster overhaul. He must prove the Colts didn't make a mistake in trusting him to be their man.
He must take the Colts to the promised land if he ever wants to silence the critics.
Both Williams and Luck have a lot to prove and a lot of pressure to play under in 2012. So which is more significant: Williams being expected to bring winning back to Buffalo, or Luck being the next Manning?
Comment below to take your stand.