10 Reasons Indianapolis Colts Would Be Foolish to Draft Andrew Luck
The absence of Peyton Manning has thrown into sharp relief problems on both sides of the ball the Colts have hid over the years. Manning’s inspired play has given them some leeway, but without him Indy looks ordinary at almost every position.
With the team 0-10 and on pace to earn the first overall pick, Indianapolis has the opportunity to address these issues rather than bolster the one position they're strong at (with Manning in the mix of course).
In that spirit, consider these 10 big reasons why the Colts would be foolish to draft, sign and keep Luck during the incoming offseason.
Peyton Manning Will Come Back
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By some accounts, Indianapolis Colts star QB Peyton Manning will return in 2012. Why then would Indy use their coveted top pick on a quarterback?
While there’s speculation he could see some games in 2011, that might be ill-advised. Rushing back from a serious nerve injury like the one Manning suffered in his neck could lead to career-ending complications, so the Colts should be careful in how they bring him back.
While Manning has stated he wants to play as soon as possible, why play him this year? It’s not as if the Colts are suddenly going to make the playoffs with him right now. At 0-10, they’re basically playing for pride at this point. It’s a nice sentiment from Manning, but he should get 100 percent healthy before returning.
Manning will be 36 next year, giving him maybe four to five more years of football (probably less) before he’ll have to consider retirement. If they draft Andrew Luck, that’s four or five years he won’t see the field. Even Aaron Rodgers only waited three years before he started.
Taking Luck after Jim Isray publicly stated that the Manning era isn’t over in Indy might not be the best move considering all the other options out there.
The Colts Can’t Afford Both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck
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Considering the Indianapolis Colts' massive investment in Peyton Manning during the previous offseason, is it realistic to expect the front office to dole out big money to Manning and first overall pick money to Andrew Luck?
While it would ideally be nice to form a quarterback mentor-mentee relationship like the one Green Bay used with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Indy can’t afford to spend that kind of money on one position, especially when only one of them will play.
Manning is owed over $45 million over the next two years of his five-year, $90 million contract. Even with the changes made to rookie contracts, 2010’s first overall pick Cam Newton (a quarterback) got a four-year deal worth upwards of $22 million. And he starts for Carolina. With all the problems on they have at multiple positions, could the Colts afford to pay $6 million to $7 million a year to Luck for him to just to sit?
The first pick is just to valuable an asset to blow on a position that the Colts have already invested in. Luck is projected to be good enough to start, and there are plenty of other teams who need his services badly. Indy can’t afford to pay both Manning and Luck from a financial standpoint as well as a rebuilding one.
Luck Is an Unproven Commodity
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It’s unquestionable that Andrew Luck will be an NFL quarterback one day, we just don’t know what kind.
Watching him play, it’s clear that Luck has the intangibles to play at the next level. His leadership, poise and intelligence under center will translate well into the NFL. He’s an incredible athlete who could probably play multiple positions if Stanford didn’t need him at quarterback.
But he still in unproven at the NFL level. Luck’s efficiency will most certainly go down against professional defenses as he adjusts to the speed. While he could adapt, there is still an outside chance that he won’t. While some see this as an argument to sit him, consider the previous slide.
As a rule, Stanford tends to run an incredibly balanced offense, running the ball as much as they pass. With that in mind, Luck has never really needed to carry his team by himself, which he will have to learn to do on a Colts team that ranks 25th in rushing offense. Will we see a different side of Luck when it’s all on him to win games?
Luck might be the best QB prospect in the 2012 NFL draft, but like the rest of them, he’s an unproven commodity.
They Could Draft Luck, Then Trade Him
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Considering the hype surrounding Andrew Luck and the payroll of the Indianapolis Colts, perhaps the best thing to do would be to draft and immediately trade him for help across the board.
Instead of having him sit behind Peyton Manning for a handful of years as Manning tries to hold on, why not trade Luck or his pick to a team that can offer immediate help in other areas. Instead of drafting a backup quarterback, the Colts could get much needed help on defense.
The defense just isn't getting it done anymore. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are arguably the unit's two stars, and both will be over 31 next year. Pat Angerer at MLB is a good start, but they need help at at OLB, across the secondary and along the defensive line. Could the Colts pass up significant defensive help simply to groom Luck?
There are multiple teams in the NFL who could use Luck as a starter in the immediate future, so why not see what you could get from them before signing the promising Stanford man to a big contract. If other teams are putting together deals with multiple starters at various positions, Indy should consider a trade.
They Could Get Better Value for the First Pick
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Arguably, there is better value out there for the Indianapolis Colts' first overall pick than just drafting Andrew Luck.
We’ve already gone over how, if they weren’t sold on Luck, the Colts could trade away his rights or the pick itself, but they could also use the pick to draft someone else.
Certainly, it’s a bit of a stretch to turn down perhaps the best overall prospect at any position in Luck, but the philosophy in the draft has always been to draft with the aim of filling a need.
Why did the Houston Texans take Mario Williams over Reggie Bush in 2006? They needed help defensively. Why do highly touted linemen routinely go higher than big name skill players who will put fans in the seats? They fill a need.
If we assume that Peyton Manning will be healthy and ready for the 2012 season, the Colts no longer have quarterback as an immediate (or at least first round) need. They’ll eventually need a successor, but does it have to be the best out there?
Consider this following handful of players as possible alternatives for the Colts to draft in the first round instead of Luck. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that these prospects surpass Luck’s value; I’m saying that if the Colts decide against Luck, these are some other choices for them to consider.
OT Matt Kalil
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Part of Matt Barkley’s success at USC has been the outstanding play of his offensive line, with credit particularly to tackle Matt Kalil.
Should the red-shirt junior declare for the draft, he will absolutely be the first at his position taken off the board. Kalil’s footwork and hands made him a trendy pick last year, but he stayed in school to improve his craft.
Now, for many teams with protection issues like the Colts, Kalil looks irresistible. While the Colts' biggest need on the offensive line is at center with an aging Jeff Saturday, Kalil could do no harm.
Kalil would be among other relatively new players along the line (Anthony Castonzo, Joe Reitz, Jeff Linkenbach), so adding depth would be the primary rationale for his selection by the Colts. However, if he makes the transition to guard, Kalil could become a solid replacement for RG Ryan Diem in the future.
Whoever is under center, Indy will need a sterling O-line to keep him upright and in the game. Kalil is a nice piece to help achieve that goal.
RB Trent Richardson
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Running back is another position the Indianapolis Colts could seek to improve in the 2012 NFL draft, and Alabama star tailback Trent Richardson could be their man.
Part of a one-loss Alabama squad seemingly destined for a rematch with LSU in the BCS National Championship Game, Richardson has been incredible for the Tide. The junior back has been in the Heisman conversation all year and has rarely disappointed.
As an NFL prospect, he ranks at the top of this year’s running backs, and has the skill to eventually become an every-down back for a contender. Richardson has a combination of physicality and speed that could translate well into the professional game. A good running attack can change the fortunes of many a team, and Richardson seems to have what it takes to provide that.
For the Colts, it’s hard to argue they need help on the ground. While Joseph Addai has proven valuable in years past, knee injuries have slowed him down. Behind him, Indy features a cavalcade of rookies and no-names, which has contributed to their lack success with the run.
While a struggling offensive line hasn’t helped, drafting a running back like Richardson might bring some validity to a Colts offense that needs a respectable running game to set up the pass. Draft-wise, Indy could do worse.
OLB Zach Brown
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With his stock rising every week, North Carolina’s Zach Brown could provide the Indianapolis Colts with much-needed help at outside linebacker.
Brown has impressed as of late, contributing to a Tar Heel defense that ranks 18th in the nation at stopping the run. The senior is 11th in the ACC in tackles with 81, and has contributed a team-high 5.5 sacks to the cause. Brown has shown his quality in pass defense as well, nabbing a pair of picks.
While Pat Angerer has looked decent in the middle, it’s tough to say the same about Phillip Wheeler and Kavell Conner on the outside. Brown would provide pressure with his impressive speed, and also be able to drop back to defend the pass.
Brown looks to be the complete package, and is perhaps the Colts' best option defensively in a draft weak at defensive tackle.
CB Morris Claiborne
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If the Colts are looking to improve their secondary, why not go with Morris Claiborne out of LSU?
Claiborne is a part of a Tigers defense that ranks second in the nation in total defense and fifth against the pass. The LSU junior has four interceptions, but his impact on the game goes beyond statistics.
Perhaps the best defensive player in the 2012 NFL draft, Claiborne has the potential to develop into a reliable cover corner for any team. His skill and positioning in man coverage will discourage many from throwing his way, and his 6’0’’ size will allow him to stay with most receivers in the air.
For Indy, corner is another defensive position where they could use some work. While Kevin Thomas, Jerraud Powers, Terrence Johnson and Jacob Lacey have a combined nine years of experience between then, Claiborne might not add much from an experience standpoint, but he would in skill.
With a pass defense that currently ranks 30th in the NFL, any help to the secondary would be desired. Taking Claiborne in the first round wouldn’t hurt.
Another QB Later in the Draft
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If the Colts are simply going to sit Andrew Luck for a few years while Peyton plays out most if not all of his remaining contract, why not trade away the pick and look for a QB later in the draft?
While Luck might be the cream of the QB crop in 2012, there are other options who could develop into decent NFL quarterbacks later in the draft.
After his team’s huge upset win over Oklahoma, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III has seen his NFL stock skyrocket. An incredibly accurate passer with mobility and speed to boot, RGIII could develop into the Michael Vick given the chance. Some boards list him as high as second in the draft, so he might give the Colts the same financial problem as Luck. Still, if the Baylor senior could be had, Indy should be interested.
If he decides to leave school this year, Matt Barkley could be a pleasing alternative. He seems to get better and better as the season goes on, and is projected to one of the top five QB prospects outside of Luck. Barkley has risen on some boards even into the top five overall, making him a solid choice.
Outside the first round, Houston’s Case Keenum and Boise State’s Kellen Moore could be worth looking at. Both men hold their own NCAA records and could prove to be more than just system quarterbacks. They could become reliable backups, something the Colts need with Manning’s health in question. And we haven’t even talked about Nick Foles, Tyler Wilson or Ryan Tannehill.
Clearly, if the Colts deal the Luck pick, they will probably have a shot at a decent backup later in the draft. Trading the pick or using it elsewhere gives the Colts flexibility in rebuilding, rather than betting all their chips on Luck.