Cam Newton, of the Carolina Panthers, entered his rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick from the 2011 NFL draft. Newton has since gone on to tear up the record books and have scouts salivating over his skills.
Newton's success is only hindered by Carolina's porous problems on defense that has prevented the team's record from inverting itself.
There is no doubt however, that Newton has already inverted the optimism in Carolina and reignited a franchise that was reeling from the season before.
It seems a simple idea, your franchise is the worst in the league therefore you take a star quarterback first overall to turn everything around. There is no bigger star—that hasn't already played in the league—than Andrew Luck, who is the consensus first overall pick of next year's draft.
Surely Newton's performances this year can do nothing but further endorse Luck as next year's top pick?
Actually no, they don't.
In fact, more than anything, the performances that Cam Newton has turned in this year completely go against the premise that you absolutely have to draft the Stanford quarterback.
Newton has all but erased the question marks that scouts and teams put over his head during the lead up to the NFL draft. Very few analysts actually condoned drafting him No. 1 overall. Some analysts even claimed that they wouldn't draft him in the first round.
These are the same analysts, executives and scouts that are drooling over Andrew Luck. Luck may be an unbelievable prospect, but at the end of the day, he is still just a prospect.
Transitioning from NCAA football to the NFL is not an exact science that can be evaluated. You can examine a player on the field endlessly, he can have zero red flags, but at the end of the day, people change and react differently to different situations.
Moving from college to the NFL is difficult on the field, and totally unpredictable off the field, regardless of what character a person is showing prior to being drafted.
Most casual fans see Andrew Luck as a star already in the NFL, in fact there will be a few that lamblast anyone for even considering questioning him as if he were some form of Tim Tebo...I mean God.
Some scouts will share the same view, but the smartest scouts will tell you that there is some level of unpredictability to any and all players entering the NFL. Scouting is a science but nothing is guaranteed, just ask Ryan Leaf.
For every Mike Wallace or Mike Singletary that are unearthed past the first round, there is a David Carr, JaMarcus Russell and to a lesser extent, a Carson Palmer.
That is the problem with relying on just one player. A guy like Carson Palmer was a star in Cincinnati, and arguably a good draft choice, but injuries essentially ended his effectiveness in the AFC North.
Even when you do find the next greatest star at the quarterback position, and keep him healthy, it does not actually guarantee you success. It helps, but how many Super Bowls has Peyton Manning actually won in Indianapolis?
There is no doubt that Manning is a Hall of Fame quarterback and you can argue that he is the best ever, but locking in one position doesn't make a dynasty or even guarantee you a Super Bowl.
Yes, I do understand the importance of the quarterback position in football, but I also understand that the team around that quarterback will ultimately decide if he can be successful in the NFL.
Football remains a team sport despite the offense's reliance on the quarterback position.
Realistically, which gives you the better chance to win: Carson Palmer or Andy Dalton, AJ Green and two first-round picks? Is the difference between Dalton and Palmer, a first overall pick in 2003, really greater than Green and the two first-round picks they received for Carson Palmer?
Since 1993, two of the 11 quarterbacks drafted first overall have brought their teams to the Super Bowl and won it, both are named Manning. Another of the 11 has a Super Bowl ring, but Drew Bledsoe was backing up Tom Brady, a sixth-round pick and the reigning MVP, first unanimous, of the NFL.
Realistically Andrew Luck does not outweigh the hype that will give him huge trade value this June. Carson Palmer essentially went for two first-round picks; Kevin Kolb went for a second-round pick and Pro Bowl cornerback; Jay Cutler went for two first rounders, a starting quarterback and a third round pick. Taking all that into consideration, Andrew Luck's price would be astronomical.
What would Colts (currently leading the Luck race) fans really prefer? Three first-round picks, a second-round pick and potentially a Pro bowl Defender, or a rookie quarterback who is no guarantee and will likely be overly scrutinized in the shadow of the great Peyton Manning?
If Peyton Manning can actually play out the remainder of his contract, and the Colts have that much weight to acquire players to better their team, there is no reason that they have to invest totally in Andrew Luck.
Bringing in a developmental quarterback in the later rounds isn't really an issue for any team, especially one with Manning.
The best player in the league right now was not a first overall pick, he was a developmental project that still went in the first round. Aaron Rodgers did actually sit for three years before taking over the NFL in the past year or so.
He also won a Super Bowl championship quicker than most do after becoming a starter, because the Packers had a better overall team than any quarterback that initially starts as a No. 1 overall pick.
There is no doubt that Andrew Luck is the most exciting prospect to enter the NFL since Peyton Manning, but the "Suck for Luck" campaign is a misguided one. Football remains, above all else, a team game. You cannot just rely on one player and hope to succeed as Indianapolis Colts' fans are finding out right now.
Building a quality team is what wins out in all team sports at the highest level, just look at the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA or the Boston Bruins in the NHL. The Sedins in Vancouver and the Big Three in Miami still finished the season as losers no matter what way you look at it.
Unless Andrew Luck is the final piece to a perfect team building plan, then his value as trade bait is too much to overlook.
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