Will The Colts Draft Peyton Manning's Heir In 2011?
The last few years have shown that the Colts are willing to draft the best player available (whether they need him or not).
Last year the Colts drafted RB Donald Brown in the first round- then rode RB Joseph Addai all the way to the Super Bowl. This year they picked DE Jerry Hughes (regarded as the best pure pass rusher in the draft) with the 31st overall pick- even though they already have the best DE tandem in the league and nearly every mock draft on the web had them picking an offensive lineman (OT Rodger Saffold, OT Charles Brown, and OG/C Maurkice Pouncey).
Experts are already touting that 2011 will be the next big quarterback class, which could work out really well for the Colts.
In the old days top signal callers were almost always drafted fairly high, but over the last few years talented quarterbacks have slid in the draft.
In 2005 Aaron Rodgers was expected to be a top ten pick, but he slid all the way to 24 to the Green Bay Packers (even though Brett Favre was still at the top of his game). This year Jimmy Clausen (arguably the most pro ready quarterback to come out in years) lasted all the way to the middle of the second round (the Panthers tried to trade up to get him, but he landed in their lap at pick 48).
One of the reasons that the 2011 quarterbacks could slip is because some of the "bad" teams (who'll be picking at the top of the first round) already have quarterbacks.
Last year the Lions drafted QB Mathew Stafford #1 overall. This year the Rams snatched up QB Sam Bradford. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Josh Freeman in 2009 and the Denver Broncos are collecting quarterbacks.
Then there are the good teams. Not only do most of them already have quarterbacks, but these teams are looking for guys that can help them win right now.
Teams like the Texans, Dolphins, Eagles, Chargers, Titans, Jets, and Falcons already have their quarterback for the future.
Other teams like the Cardinals, 49ers, and Chiefs have so much invested in their quarterbacks that they're better off using their top picks on support players that give them a chance to win right now. Even the Seahawks could pass on a quarterback if J.P. Lossman can translate his UFL success into the NFL.
At any rate here are the four guys that are expected to be the top quarterbacks in the 2011 draft. It's a fair assumption that at least one of these guys will slip to the bottom of the first round.
Jake Locker 6'3 226 (Washington): A lot of experts say that if Locker would've come out this year than he'd have been the Rams choice.
Mel Kiper Jr has already said that Locker is "etched in stone" as the #1 overall pick. Well, unless the Rams, Bucs, Lions etc... get the first pick of the draft he's probably right.
Locker's footwork, accuracy and character should have him at or near the top of the draft. Plus, he won despite having no supporting cast.
He probably won't be the guy to slide, but one of these other guys might put up huge numbers this year and take the number one quarterback spot away from him.
Andrew Luck 6'4 234 (Stanford): There's a chance Andrew Luck won't even come out next year since he's only an eligible sophomore. However; if he does he'll likely be a top 5 pick.
Against Pac-10 juggernaut USC Luck went 12-22 for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns, he also rushed for 61 yards and another touchdown. Being from Stanford helps too since he's coached by a former Colts QB (Jim Harbaugh) and he's obviously smart-since they don't let dumb kids go to Stanford.
Ryan Mallett 6'7 238 (Arkansas): The best thing to happen to the Razorbacks in a long time was Rich Rodriguez going to Michigan, otherwise Mallett would never have ended up in Fayetteville.
It probably was a good thing for Mallett too, because head coach Bobby Petrino is considered one of the great offensive geniuses in college football. In 2009 Mallett went 225-403 for 3627 yards and 30 touchdowns with a pair of sophomore wide receivers.
Playing in Petrino's pro-style offense should help him adjust to the pro game smoothly.
Christian Ponder 6'3 227 (Florida St): Last year Christian Ponder showed that he was the most dangerous quarterback in the ACC.
He led the conference in total yards with 321.8 and his 301.9 passing yards per game was the best in the ACC as well.
His patience alone should make him a first round pick, he connected with seven or more receivers in seven of his thirteen games.
Even though his season was cut short by a torn ACL, he had the best season by a FSU quarterback since Charlie Ward.