Whichever team finishes with the worst record in the NFL this season can take comfort in knowing they are in the driver’s seat to pick Andrew Luck, the most coveted quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning.
For those teams that don’t need Luck, it is said a team will be able to acquire three first-round picks by trading away the first overall slot.
This article explores what each team would do if given the first overall pick. Obviously the Green Bay Packers aren't going to get the first overall pick. Realistically, only a handful of the teams really have a shot for Luck, and at this point, it appears like the Indianapolis Colts have strong odds.
But it's for fun. What would Ted Thompson do if the Packers got the first overall pick? What would Tom Brady's future in New England be if the New England Patriots landed this selection? Would the Carolina Panthers or Cincinnati Bengals part ways with their talented rookie quarterbacks to take Luck?
Some teams are on the bubble between picking Luck and trading the top overall pick for a trifecta of first rounders. This breaks down the teams in order of how much they need Luck, starting with the teams that don’t need him the most.
What would this team possibly want with Andrew Luck? Aaron Rodgers is as sure of a thing as any quarterback in the league right now, and he’s still just 27 years old.
Rodgers is in the midst of arguably the greatest season by any player in the game’s 90-plus year history. He has 28 touchdowns to just three interceptions and remains on pace to set new NFL records in completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown passes and passer rating.
There is no clear cut team after the Green Bay Packers. A case could be made for each of the next several teams, but I went with the Atlanta Falcons because Matt Ryan was picked third overall, is just 26 years old, and looks to be the quarterback of this team for the next decade.
Ryan has struggled in 2011 compared to his 28-touchdown performance last year, but he is still a guy who led as many fourth-quarter comebacks last season (five) as Aaron Rodgers has in his career. The Falcons would keep Ryan and trade the first pick for three first rounders.
No way the Carolina Panthers take Andrew Luck. Cam Newton is having a stellar season as a rookie. He’s 6'5", 248 pounds, and he is a threat to throw or run the football.
In just over half a season, Newton has thrown for 11 touchdowns and ran for seven more. That puts him on pace to accumulate a rookie record 32 total touchdowns. Trading the pick for Luck could get the Panthers another receiver to complement Steve Smith.
From 2008 through 2010, Philip Rivers was one of the top three quarterbacks in the league. He averaged 4,234 passing yards and 31 touchdowns per season, leading the NFL in yards per attempt all three years. He never failed to post a passer rating lower than 100, and he was rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod in each season.
Rivers has swayed from stardom in 2011, as his 15 interceptions are more than any other quarterback and his passer rating has dropped 25 points. He’s still an extremely valuable part of the San Diego Chargers, though, and he’s way too talented and young (29) for them to pick Andrew Luck.
No one expected the kind of season Andy Dalton is having for the Cincinnati Bengals. He started from game one as a rookie and has led the Bengals to a shocking 6-3 start.
Dalton is on pace to challenge Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26 touchdown passes. He is quickly establishing himself as the face of this franchise, and the Bengals would have to keep Dalton over Andrew Luck.
Now that Matthew Stafford has finally stayed healthy (so far), the Detroit Lions see they made the right pick by selecting him No. 1 overall in the 2009 NFL draft.
In nine games this season, Stafford has passed for 20 touchdowns to just eight interceptions while leading the surprising Lions to a 6-3 record. He has the physical tools to be a successful quarterback for the next 10 years.
In a recent article, ESPN’s Bill Simmons mentioned that the St. Louis Rams should trade Sam Bradford if they get the No. 1 pick and draft Andrew Luck.
Definitely an intriguing idea. Bradford had a highly productive year as a rookie in 2010 but has regressed in 2011. He has posted a passer rating lower than 80 for eight straight games. He has thrown five touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his last 13 games.
While he isn’t being helped by his offensive line or subpar group of receivers, that isn’t the type of production the Rams wanted to see from their franchise QB.
This one is a tough call, but I think the Rams would be best off trading the No. 1 pick for three first rounders and keeping Bradford.
Ben Roethlisberger is a special player. He consistently rates well in the three most important categories for a quarterback: yards per attempt, passer rating and wins.
He has mastered the art of late-game heroics—look no further than his game-winning drive against the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl or 17 career fourth-quarter comebacks.
Andrew Luck may be a can’t-miss quarterback, but the Pittsburgh Steelers would be foolish to rid themselves of Roethlisberger, a two-time world champion who has been to three Super Bowls and four conference championship games in seven years.
The first overall pick could get them some serious help on the offensive line to protect Roethlisberger.
For the first seven seasons of his career, Eli Manning was an oft-criticized quarterback who showed flashes of brilliance (the touchdown pass to beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl) and stretches of disappointment (the 25-interception season in 2010).
Manning is playing impressive football this season, and he’s emerged as an MVP candidate for the New York Giants. Manning has thrown 17 touchdowns to eight interceptions. His 98.9 passer rating is the highest of his career, and he’s still just 30 years old. Given that he has a ring, he’s staying put in NY.
Joe Flacco has been inconsistent at times during his four years as a starter. He’s right on the bubble.
Flacco is a solid quarterback with proven playoff experience, and he’s just 26 years old. Then again, he hasn’t vaulted himself into the league’s group of elite quarterbacks yet. It probably won’t ever happen. I say the Baltimore Ravens should go with Andrew Luck.
This would be a tough call. I can’t think of any team that has ever traded away a first-round quarterback after just one year to go with a better guy.
Christian Ponder has played well in his limited action, and while Jake Locker hasn’t really seen the field yet, he is expected to be a franchise quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. Trading away Ponder or Locker would be a shocking move for either of these teams, but then again, if they flop, the team will go down as the team that could have had Luck.
I think conventional football wisdom would have both these teams passing on Luck and using the draft picks to build around their current quarterback. But this isn’t a normal quarterback. This is Luck, and if he is as good as everyone says he is, both these teams should go all in for Luck.
Jay Cutler has played remarkably well in Chicago considering his limited weapons and shaky offensive line. He’s cut down on his interceptions (six) and has the Bears embarked on a four-game winning streak.
He’s also in his sixth season in the league. The Bears could trade him away and likely get a first-round pick, plus they would be able to draft Andrew Luck.
What’s intriguing about the New Orleans Saints is that Drew Brees is a free agent after this season, and he hasn’t been given a contract extension.
Brees is so good, so valuable to the Saints that it would be tough to imagine him anywhere else. But say the Saints inexplicably landed the No. 1 overall pick? (Humor me and go with it).
What would they do? I think they would let Brees walk and go after Luck. Brees is 32 years old, and signing him to a contract extension only to trade him within a few years isn’t fair to Luck.
Playing Luck as a rookie on the Saints wouldn’t do him any damage. The team has a running game, receivers and a line. And Saints fans would have Luck for another 15 years, whereas Brees would only last about five.
Josh Freeman is another difficult decision. He had a rookie season full of growing pains before breaking out as an elite quarterback in 2010. This year, he has struggled mightily and ranks just 24th among 37 qualifying quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
I think the Buccaneers would make the right choice by trading away Freeman to go with Luck. Freeman could probably get the Bucs at least a first-round pick, and that would give the Bucs four first-round picks (one from Freeman, three from Luck).
Matt Schaub has always been an extremely underrated quarterback, especially during the last three seasons with the Houston Texans. He is in just his fifth season as the starter, but since he sat behind Michael Vick in Atlanta for three years, he is already 30 years old.
Houston would take Andrew Luck with the pick, though. They are the best team in that division right now, and having Luck would give them a sustainable advantage at the league’s most important position for the next 10 to 15 years. Schaub could be traded for a sure first-round pick, and considering the Oakland Raiders got that and more for Carson Palmer, Houston would set the price high.
Tony Romo is one of the most criticized quarterbacks in the game, and even though he’s definitely in the top half of passers in the league—probably in the top 10 even—Dallas Cowboys fans would welcome Andrew Luck with open arms.
Romo has been rightfully condemned for his failure to win in the clutch. At 31 years old, he can still play at a Pro Bowl level for at least five more years, but that’s not enough to make the Cowboys pass up on a prospect like Luck.
Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the game, and maybe the greatest to ever put on a uniform. However, he’s 34 years old. Would Bill Belichick draft Andrew Luck and part ways with Brady?
You bet he would. I think Luck would sit for a year or two, but when he took over, he would have learned from one of the best quarterbacks and one of the best coaches ever to play.
The Patriots would probably be able to trade Brady for a pair of first-round picks. Ryan Mallett is also being groomed for the Patriots to one day trade away (or maybe even take over for Brady). Brian Hoyer is also a very reliable backup.
Michael Vick just signed a six-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, but that doesn’t mean the Eagles wouldn’t take Andrew Luck.
Vick has all the talent in the world, but he struggles to remain consistent. His turnovers are up, and he seems to suffer an injury ever other week.
Imagine what a quarterback guru like Andy Reid would do with Luck.
Similarly to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Buffalo Bills just locked up their quarterback to a six-year contract worth $59 million. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good quarterback, but he’s certainly not worth that kind of money.
The Buffalo Bills absolutely would have to take Andrew Luck if presented with the opportunity. He is way too good of a prospect to pass up.
The Oakland Raiders just traded a first and second (possibly first) round pick for Carson Palmer, a nine-year veteran coming off elbow surgery.
Palmer is a good quarterback, and he may even be good enough for the Raiders to get to the playoffs this season. However, Andrew Luck would be the face of the franchise for the next 15 years.
Blaine Gabbert stinks. He certainly doesn’t have any great receivers, but the Jacksonville Jaguars as a team rank 32rd in the league in completion percentage, passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer rating.
Take Andrew Luck, and don’t look back.
Jim Harbaugh has worked wonders in San Francisco, turning that team into a Super Bowl contender. He’s also revived Alex Smith, coaxing the first productive season Smith has ever had.
Imagine what this team would be like if they took Andrew Luck.
Colt McCoy—despite having a stellar collegiate career and a really cool name—is a mediocre NFL quarterback. It’s time for the Cleveland Browns to move on from McCoy regardless of whether Andrew Luck is available.
The Browns have a solid enough offensive line, and team president Mike Holmgren knows quarterbacks, having groomed Brett Favre in Green Bay.
You can’t argue with Tim Tebow’s 4-1 record as a starting quarterback, but teams will figure out the triple option just like they figured out the wildcat offense.
Besides, you have to know John Elway doesn’t want a franchise quarterback who completes 45 percent of his passes. He wants Andrew Luck.
Matt Cassel’s time in Kansas City may be running to an end, and I doubt either Tyler Palko or Ricky Stanzi will break out late in the year (now that Cassel is hurt) and prove to be the future.
The Chiefs won the division just last year, and putting Andrew Luck on a team with Jamaal Charles would bode well for that offense.
The Indianapolis Colts absolutely cannot pass up the opportunity to draft Andrew Luck. Peyton Manning has been a 10-time Pro Bowler and four-time MVP during his 13 seasons as the starter, but he is 35 years old and has had three neck surgeries in two years.
Luck would give the Colts a franchise QB through 2025. This scenario is the most likely to happen: At 0-10, the Colts will probably end up getting the first overall pick, and it makes sense for it to spell the end of Manning in Indy.
The Miami Dolphins have tried to survive the post-Dan Marino era by using second-round picks on quarterbacks. Chad Henne, John Beck, A.J. Feeley, Daunte Culpepeper and Pat White were all drafted in the second round or traded for a second-round pick.
Andrew Luck would give this team a much-needed quarterback. And I think Brandon Marshall would like the move too.
The Seattle Seahawks made a unique trade before the 2010 season, sending a third-round pick for Charlie Whitehurst, a third-stringer who hadn’t taken a snap in the last three years.
They then decided to go with Tarvaris Jackson for 2011, and that move has ultimately been a flop. Andrew Luck would be the guy for Pete Carroll’s team.
No team in the NFL needs Andrew Luck more than the Washington Redskins. The ‘Skins have tried and failed with a pair of first-round picks in Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell. Currently, they have Rex Grossman and John Beck on their roster.
You better believe they need Luck. And with a little bit of luck, they’ll get him.