NFL Draft 2012: Breaking Down the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes
It's no secret Andrew Luck is the consensus No. 1 pick in next year's draft. The senior quarterback from Houston, Texas, shocked many by not declaring for last April's draft, when he would have certainly been drafted first overall by the Carolina Panthers instead of Cam Newton.
The Heisman Trophy candidate has done nothing but improve his position atop the draft boards of most NFL teams, leaving every fan outside of perhaps Green Bay salivating at the idea of their team drafting him.
Unfortunately, there is only one overall pick to be had, and there is only one Andrew Luck to be had. The following slideshow breaks down the chances of the 13 worst teams in the NFL, or the "Suck for Luck" victors.
The slideshow is in order of the teams' current records and does not reflect their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick or their likelihood of drafting him if they held the No. 1 pick.
13. Dallas Cowboys
As is always the case in Dallas, the Cowboys perform as well as Tony Romo. The team currently sits at 2-3, with its three losses coming by a combined 11 points.
The Cowboys are in the always-competitive NFC East, with divisional matchups remaining against the Philadelphia Eagles (twice), New York Giants (twice), and Washington Redskins. Fortunately for the Cowboys, their intraconference draw this season was the NFC West, meaning matchups with the lowly Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks also lay ahead.
We can never predict how this team will finish. They can put together a strong playoff push in the final weeks or fold and hit a long losing skid.
Ultimately, I see this team winning between seven and nine games. Even if they lose out, which is highly unlikely, finishing 2-14 would perhaps remove them from the race for the No. 1 pick, as you will read later.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 65-1
Tony Romo may continue to disappoint, and if the Cowboys stumble the rest of the season and finish with a losing record, he may come under even more heat.
However, Romo is too talented to be cast aside. He has top-10 quarterback talent and the support of management—for now.
Andrew Luck would be an upgrade, but, much like the rest of the NFL, this is a "what have you done for me lately" league, and Romo's status may have to be reexamined.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low
12. Seattle Seahawks
However, the Seahawks seam to be righting their ship as of late, including a super upset of the New York Giants on the road in Week Five and a near-upset of the Atlanta Falcons in Week Four.
While the 49ers have emerged as the clear division favorites, the Seahawks remain in the very weak NFC West, with winnable matchups against Cleveland and Cincy remaining, along with a game against the unpredictable Eagles.
Ultimately, the Seahawks will finish with between six and eight victories, especially with both Rams matchups remaining on the schedule.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 45-1
Is the Charlie Whitehurst era finally beginning in Seattle? After Seattle surrendered a second-round pick for the Clemson product, Whitehurst had ridden the pine in Seattle, backing up Matt Hasselbeck and Tarvaris Jackson.
But after Jackson went down with an injury against the Giants, Whitehurst stepped in superbly to lead the Seahawks to the improbably victory. It remains to be seen what the Seahawks do at the position after the bye. However, there is no denying Luck would be an immense upgrade over Whitehurst.
Need for Andrew Luck: Moderate-High
11. Cleveland Browns
However, Cleveland's schedule is filled with lower-tier teams in the league, as their interconference draw is the NFC West, and their intraconference draw is the AFC South. That means matchups with Jacksonville, St. Louis and Seattle remain.
The Browns may be far from even being a playoff contender, but they may be even further away from winning the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, especially in a season with several awful teams.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 35-1
Colt McCoy is currently the Browns' quarterback. While far from flashy, he is a solid quarterback with a bright future in the league as a second-tier starting quarterback.
If Andrew Luck were to land on their laps, I still believe the Browns would jump at the opportunity. However, that is far from likely.
Need for Andrew Luck: Moderate
10. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs remain a wild card team in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
After starting 0-3, including a pair of record-setting losses to the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, the Chiefs reeled off two consecutive victories against the lowly Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts.
Luckily for the Chiefs, their schedule is filled with several other lowly teams, including matchups with the Miami Dolphins and twice with the Denver Broncos.
This team is far from solid, and they may luck out a victory or two, but I see them finishing with no more than four victories, splitting the season series with the Broncos and taking the win from the Dolphins.
Four victories may be just enough to keep them in the Luck sweepstakes, but with other teams playing far worse, it will most likely not be enough.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 25-1
Matt Cassel is entrenched as the Chiefs quarterback after being handed a long-term deal that pays him over $10 million a season. Andrew Luck may be an upgrade, but after Cassel led the Chiefs to the playoffs in 2010, I believe he remains the Chiefs' solution at quarterback.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low
9. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles are only included in this slideshow because of their current record of 2-4. In no way does their inclusion indicate that they are even in the running for the first overall pick.
After all the talks of the "Dream Team," the Eagles stumbled out of the gates, starting 1-4. However, there is just too much talent to even consider this team to be the worst in the league. There are 10 games left in the season, meaning a lot of time for the Eagles to turn around and win their division.
The Eagles are closer to Super Bowl competitors than the worst team in the league, regardless of their place in the standings. They should finish with a .500 or better record, and could finish with 10 victories.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 100-1
Michael Vick has done a miraculous job of turning himself into the face of the franchise after a disgraceful fall from fame. The Eagles re-signed him to a contract extension that pays him over $10 million annually, and have no intention of replacing him.
Need for Andrew Luck: None
8. Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a lot of holes that will keep them from being a competitive team in the NFL this year. They currently sit at 1-4, with their lone victory coming against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Their remaining schedule is far from friendly for landing Andrew Luck, with remaining matchups against the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and twice with the Kansas City Chiefs. The team may even get lucky and eke out a victory in their matchups with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.
The Broncos should finish the season with anywhere from four to seven victories. However, in a season with such little parity, even four victories would place them out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 22-1
The Tim Tebow era has begun in Denver, after campaigning from Tebow fans all across the country. It appeared to be the smart move in their loss to San Diego, as Tebow did a great job stepping in.
Tebow was the team's first-round pick in 2009, and the team has reiterated its stance on keeping Tebow at the quarterback position. You do not invest a first-round pick in a quarterback unless you intend to make him the team's full-time starter.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low-Moderate
7. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals have underwhelmed fans and pundits alike who predicted they would make leaps in progress after acquiring quarterback Kevin Kolb in the offseason.
While they are only 1-4, the Cardinals lost their first three games by a combined eight points before being blown out by the Minnesota Vikings.
Their schedule may or not play out in their favor in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They have very winnable games in Cleveland, Seattle and Cincinnati, and two matchups against the Rams. On the surface, these are easy enough to win, but the team has been very unpredictable, as exposed by their setback against the Vikings.
I see the Cardinals finishing with between three and six victories, which, again, would be just enough to keep them from getting the No. 1 pick.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 20-1
The Cardinals invested heavily in Kolb. This may have been just a move to appease superstar Larry Fitzgerald in the short term, but the Cardinals organization appears to be entrenched with Kolb as their starter.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low-Moderate
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are going through some growing pains, as do most teams that release their quarterback less than a week prior to the start of a season and insert a rookie quarterback only a couple of weeks in.
The Jaguars' lone victory came against the Tennessee Titans in Week One, but the Titans, unlike the Jaguars, have made progress toward becoming a more competitive football team.
The Jaguars schedule is very difficult here on out, with only a pair of games against the Indianapolis Colts remaining in which they could be deemed favorites. However, the team may luck out in games against the Titans and Cleveland Browns.
Ultimately, this will be a long year for Jaguars fans. This team is not going to finish with more than four or five victories and could finish with as few as two wins.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 18-1
The Jaguars selected Missouri product Blaine Gabbert in the first round to be their future starting quarterback. Granted, Luck is far more talented, but the Jaguars have made too great an investment in Gabbert to cast him aside after one season.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low
5. Minnesota Vikings
The Christian Ponder era may start sooner than many Vikings fans would have liked, but it is happening for good reason.
The Vikings have looked awful at times this season, aside from a 34-10 thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals. They sit at 1-5, one of five teams with only one victory.
However, their schedule plays out favorably in landing the No. 1 pick. They could easily lose all six of their division games, and they only have two games remaining that they could conceivably win—a Week Eight matchup with the Carolina Panthers and a Week 13 matchup with the Denver Broncos.
Worst/best case scenario: the team loses out. They have looked absolutely awful at times, but this is unlikely to happen. Even the worst of teams get lucky in one or two games. They will probably finish in the vicinity of two-three victories at season's end.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 10-1
The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder 12th overall with the vision of making him the team's starting quarterback. Much like the Jaguars, the Vikings are entrenched with Ponder as the team's future, unless he performs horribly or suffers a catastrophic injury during the course of the season.
Need for Andrew Luck: Low
4. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are this season's most unpredictable and yet fun-to-watch team. Granted, they have only one victory, but their record could be much better, as they have lost four of five games by one score or less.
Cam Newton has been outstanding at quarterback, justifying his position as the No. 1 overall pick. I can see the Panthers pulling off a couple of upsets behind Newton's arm. Their schedule may not be favorable, with only two games against teams with records below .500, but they could surprise many down the stretch and play spoiler.
Conservatively, this team finishes with two or three victories, but behind the Heisman Trophy winner, they could finish with as many as five or six victories.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 15-1
Cam Newton was the No. 1 pick in last April's draft for good reason. He is a game changer and should be a top-five quarterback in the NFL sometime in the future.
Need for Andrew Luck: None
3. Miami Dolphins
Looking for the most helpless team in the NFL? Look no further than the Miami Dolphins.
After losing Chad Henne to a shoulder injury for a season (a move welcomed by Dolphins fans), the team looked ghastly in its Monday Night loss to the New York Jets.
The Dolphins play in what is arguably the most competitive division today, in which all three teams ahead of them have playoff perspectives. Luckily, their intraconference draw is the AFC West, which means matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, but do not look for any other victories here on out.
The "Suck for Luck" campaign is in full force in Miami, and this team is as bad (or good, depending on how you look at it) as they come. Coach Tony Sparano is halfway out the door, and this team needs major changes, beginning with the quarterback position. This team can go winless, but look for them to finish with no more than one or two victories this entire season.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 5-1
This team has been in dire need of a stable quarterback since Dan Marino hung up his cleats. The team has never been willing to invest more than a second-round pick in a quarterback, whether it be by trade (A.J. Feeley, Daunte Culpepper) or draft (Chad Henne, Pat White).
The time is now for the Dolphins to make that sizable investment. Even if they don't land the top pick, look for the Dolphins to draft Landry Jones, but he's just a consolation prize. They have no answer at quarterback, and it is time to start the search for one.
Need for Andrew Luck: High
2. St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams have looked just awful this season. They have lost all five contests by an average of 17.6 points per game, including a 30-point thrashing by the Baltimore Ravens.
This team has definitely taken several steps back this season. After finishing with seven victories and having a great draft, pundits predicted they could win the weak NFC West. However, this team has looked far from the part of a playoff contender.
The schedule doesn't bode well for the team's win percentage. Aside from two games left against both the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, the Rams may lose out. However, this team will most likely end up in the vicinity of two-four victories.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 9-1
Sam Bradford has regressed a bit this season, but it is not his fault. This team has been terrible, but Bradford remains one of the brightest young stars in the game. He is the team's future at quarterback, and could be a top-five or top-ten quarterback during the course of his career.
Need for Andrew Luck: None
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are better than their winless record indicates. They have lost four games by eight points or less, including losses to Pittsburgh by a field goal and Tampa Bay by a touchdown.
However, the Colts are not that much better. The team has looked lost at times, indicating just how important Peyton Manning is to this team.
Their remaining schedule has its share of sure losses and possible victories. This team could win one of its matchups with the Jacksonville Jaguars and its matchup with the Carolina Panthers. However, not much else could go right for this team, and don't expect them to finish with more than two victories.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick: 7-1
The question regarding their need for Luck is how committed management is to Peyton Manning at the end of his career. If they were to land the No. 1 pick, would they invest in the future and draft Luck, and make him Manning's protege, or would they look to add to an area of need that could return the team to playoff form right away?
Therefore, it is impossible to gauge the likelihood of drafting Luck, regardless of how they perform this season. Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins are merely stop-gaps to help pass the season.
Need for Andrew Luck: N/A
Results of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes
13. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Carolina Panthers
11. St. Louis Rams
10. Dallas Cowboys
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Arizona Cardinals
7. Cleveland Browns
6. Minnesota Vikings
5. Seattle Seahawks
4. Denver Broncos
3. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Indianapolis Colts
The "Losers" in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes Are...
The lowly Miami Dolphins are in the best position to snatch the No.1 overall pick, and they have one of the greatest needs at quarterback in the league.
Indianapolis and Miami are equally awful, and while both may finish with only one or two victories, the deciding factor will be how Indianapolis management handles Peyton Manning, and whether they are committed to returning to playoff form to please Manning or start looking toward the future.
The Miami Dolphins need a lot of help—a new coach, better secondary, healthy offensive line—but most importantly, they need a star quarterback. Regardless of their recent draft record, even the Dolphins wouldn't pass up Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick.