Andrew Luck Sweepstakes: Why the Miami Dolphins Are Looking To the NFL Draft

Jeff PencekCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the Colorado Buffaloes at Stanford Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL Draft is still six months away, and it's probably too early in the season for teams to give up.

However, it's never too early for fans of teams that stink to look toward the hope that comes with the event that is more like a summit and a new beginning for the dreck of the NFL. After six weeks of this season, we can look ahead to see who may have their franchise changed by Andrew Luck or Landry Jones.

In the last 30 years, 2003 was the only year when the worst team in the league had four wins. Every other year the win total was lower.

That means that 13 teams are already eliminated from the Andrew Luck hunt, including Oakland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and San Francisco. Four teams that may seek out the franchise quarterback have already been too successful—I don't think their fans mind.

Six more teams have three wins. It is possible one of these teams goes winless the rest of the year, but most likely they will win at least one more game, since all of them have a bit of junk remaining on the schedule. Probably only Washington would be craving a QB out of this bunch.

That leaves 13 teams in the hunt for the No. 1 pick. Some of the 13 teams are still in the hunt for the playoffs, so they could care less about the draft. Others have already catered the war room and have Mel Kiper on speed dial.


13. Philadelphia

There is zero chance Philly would draft at the No. 1 spot. They haven't played well in spots, but it is still a dangerous team in a division that is up for grabs.


12. Dallas

Although they may tease about drafting Andrew Luck or Landry Jones (with Tony Romo ranging from savior to awful in an instant), the Cowboys' issue is that they are a pretty good team, just not great at closing games.

The schedule has been brutal up to this point but will get easier for them.


11. Seattle

The early-season favorite to get a QB with the No. 1 pick, Seattle has two things going against them.

One, they have a fantastic home-field advantage at formerly Qwest Field. Two, they are the second-best team in their division.

It's tough to get the No. 1 pick when you play Arizona and St. Louis four times.


10. Kansas City

The Chiefs are far from being great, and their offense has suffered too many injuries to be strong, but they still play the Broncos twice and the Dolphins once.

Starting at two wins already, they will probably get to four without factoring any of their other games in.


9. Carolina

Carolina is entertainingly bad, which means at some point during the season they will figure out a way to win a few games.

Plus, they just picked Cam Newton, they aren't picking Andrew Luck or Landry Jones anyway. A break here, a break there—all of a sudden they have five wins.


8. Cleveland

I think the Browns really like Colt McCoy, and he has a winner's edge to him that could help the Browns win if they actually had some talent and a running back who isn't actually playing up to the Madden Curse.

The Browns' schedule also ruins any chances of them getting the No. 1 pick. They still have to play the entire NFC West.


7. St Louis

Now that they have Brandon Lloyd in the mix, Sam Bradford or his replacement (AJ Feeley? In 2011?) should be able to move the ball, especially with a healthy Steven Jackson.

One thought about the trade—when two messes of franchises make a trade, it's never good for the player. The only reason the Rams would make a trade like that would be to try to avoid the No. 1 pick position.

They probably aren't getting five wins all year, meaning they are already eliminated. Of course they wouldn't draft a QB, but the trade value would be really good. Much better than watching an 0-5 team while drinking nine-dollar beers.


6. Minnesota

We are at the first of the "didn't do a good job evaluating their talent so they drafted a QB a year early" teams.

Starting Donovan McNabb automatically would make the team a player for the No. 1 pick, yet they have Christian Ponder waiting in the wings.

It's hard to imagine the Vikings winning a lot of games, but their first four losses were close and they still have Adrian Peterson. We're also getting a string of teams hoping the LA Stadium gets built quickly.


5. Jacksonville

Blaine Gabbert and Ponder may turn out to be really good NFL quarterbacks, but both the Vikings and Jaguars acknowledged that by picking them instead of an immediate need that they were probably going to stink this year.

Two teams in desperate need of a franchise quarterback to help their teams with fans skeptical of their future panicked. Luckily for the Jags, they play the Colts twice and the Browns once. If they don't win those games, watch out—the Jags may be staring 3-13 down the barrel.


4. Arizona

Arizona is No. 4 on the list despite probably being better than St. Louis or Jacksonville, mostly because they would take Andrew Luck or Landry Jones over Kevin Kolb in a second.

I'm not saying Kolb was a mistake—my view is more of an indictment on the Cardinals franchise as a whole. The only time the team has been relevant was with Kurt Warner (who was the afterthought to Matt Leinart), and the Cardinals were so desperate for a QB they traded for Kolb.

Kolb isn't Warner, and the Cardinals would take Jones or Luck in the hopes that one of those guys or Kolb becomes a star. Plus, they lost to the Seahawks and the Vikings. They could easily lose to anyone and everyone.


3. Indianapolis

Although the Colts would seem like the obvious choice for No. 1, with their franchise QB out for the season and most likely in need of a replacement, they have one small problem. They are playing almost too well.

Stop playing close games if you want the No. 1 pick.

Their season was ruined by the Manning injury and Kerry Collins experiment, but the Colts of this year almost remind me of the Bills of last year. Pesky and dangerous every week, even if they do start 0-8.

They may still be in the Landry Jones hunt, but tenacity and pride will probably be what keeps them away from Luck, even if Luck going to a team with a horseshoe logo is logical.


2. Denver

Detailing the debacle of a franchise the Broncos have become might take an entire article.

With Tim Tebow in and Brandon Lloyd traded, Denver is going full steam ahead for the No. 1 pick. With John Elway in management, he sees a potential Broncos quarterback from Stanford and gets a chill.

Any franchise that is the second-worst in football last year and hopes to improve by hiring the coach from the worst team in football understands the culture of losing. 2-14 is definitely possible, since after next week the Broncos play the Lions, the Raiders, the Chiefs, the Jets, the Chargers, the Vikings, the Bears, the Patriots, the Bills and the Chiefs.

The problem for Denver fans craving Andrew Luck is that these are the modern-day Broncos. They will screw it up and beat the Patriots somehow and sweep the Chiefs.


1. Miami

Next Sunday is the bye week for Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, NY Giants, Philadelphia and San Francisco, ensuring games like the toilet bowl between the Broncos and Dolphins at "Hey everyone is dressed in orange, are they rooting for the Broncos or Dolphins, oh wait, those are seats" Stadium.

A Dolphins win could completely change the complexion of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. A Dolphins loss puts 0-16 strongly in play.

After Denver, the only teams the Dolphins play with losing records the rest of the year are at Kansas City, at Dallas and at home against Philadelphia (if 25,000 Eagles fans at the game counts as a home game).

Miami is the most logical spot in the league, also. A franchise-caliber QB in the division with the Jets and Patriots and a No. 1 draft pick for a team in a state where football is struggling.

As the Lions have learned, 0-16 isn't so bad for the future of the franchise if the prize is a star quarterback.


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