The 2012 NFL draft figures to be one of the most exciting in years. Andrew Luck is the most-heralded prospect since John Elway and he is hardly the only head-turning prospect.
All signs point to Luck being the top overall pick in the draft. The only problem is that the team likely holding the pick has a certain future Hall of Famer at quarterback in Peyton Manning, who has four years left on his contract.
What will the Indianapolis Colts do? Could Matt Barkley be better than Luck? Will Robert Griffin III have a Cam Newton-like effect at the next level? The answers to these questions are why 2012's draft will be exponentially more exciting than 2011.
Andrew Luck is the most polished quarterback prospect since John Elway. All Elway did in the NFL was win two Super Bowls and play in five. He also provided some of the most significant drives and plays in NFL history.
No pressure, Andrew.
This whole season has been about who would tank to select the heralded prospect.
The Indianapolis Colts are running away with top pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The winless Colts are two games “ahead” of the competition. What's more, those two-win teams have selected a quarterback in the first round in one of the last two drafts.
So, the Colts have some tough decisions. Do they take Andrew Luck and create the next Aaron Rodgers-Brett Favre scenario? Do they trade down for a king’s ransom and make one last run with Peyton Manning?
For some, the solution seems obvious. The Colts have to take Luck. For those with that perspective, I implore you to consider Cam Newton’s contract.
As the top overall pick, Newton is guaranteed 22 million dollars over four years, in addition to a 14.5 million-dollar signing bonus. Luck's deal will be similar. Meanwhile, Manning signed a 90 million-dollar contract in the offseason, which means the Colts will have to pay over 126 million dollars for two players at the same position.
The safe move is to take Luck. In doing so, they may be assuring themselves of a decade’s worth of playoff appearances, but no Super Bowls.
I would like to see the Colts go-for-broke with Manning, one more time. They could trade down and take either Trent Richardson or the best defensive player available and fill the rest of the holes in the roster with the extra picks.
However, there is still one more scenario in which the Colts could take Luck, trade Manning before next season and use the extra 60 million dollars or so to plug the gaps and bring in some additional star power.
Regardless, Bill Polian has a lot to think about.
Then, there is the other guy.
That is, Matt Barkley.
If Barkley jumps, he will be a Top 10 pick—probably Top Five. There is a small contingency that believes Barkley is a better prospect than Luck, and it is tough to argue that outlook.
Luck is a little bigger, but they both have ideal size. Their 40 times are identical. Statistically, they are neck and neck. However, Barkley is actually slightly superior.
The USC quarterback has more touchdowns (33 to 31) and fewer interceptions (seven to eight). His completion percentage is slightly lower, but still an exceptional 67.6, while his quarterback rating is a tad behind as well.
If Barkley jumps, he and Luck’s destinies will be tied together until the end of time. Whoever gets the “consolation prize” will just hope Barkley does not become the Ryan Leaf to Luck’s Peyton Manning.
While scouts are drooling over Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley, there is a third quarterback out there who's screaming “what about me?”
Robert Griffin III has as many touchdowns as Barkley and fewer interceptions than both. Furthermore, he has the best completion percentage of all three, standing at a ridiculous 73 with a quarterback rating of 191.7.
Griffin is by far the fastest of the quarterbacks with a 4.5 40-time.
After Luck and Barkley are selected, RGIII could take an Aaron Rodgers-like slide down into the 20s, which might be best for him. He would learn the NFL system behind a decent quarterback for a couple of years and then play with a huge chip on his shoulder as soon as he gets his chance.
Griffin is not as big as Cam Newton, but he is just as fast. Again, his arm strength is behind Newton, but he too has a cannon. It will take time, but Griffin should be a very good NFL quarterback.
At times, Trent Richardson has looked like Bo Jackson in Alabama, bouncing the same would-be tackler twice on his way to the end zone.
Richardson is one of the most impressive weight-room warriors you will ever see, but how will that translate to the next level? Drafting a running back can be as big of a crapshoot as drafting a quarterback. For every Adrian Peterson there is a Kijana Carter. For every Ron Dayne, there is a Terrell Davis.
In short, to paraphrase one Forrest Gump, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”
For one, Richardson will have to adjust his style. His 4.5-speed is good at the next level, but not elite. He will have to be more of a straight-line, power runner and use his weight room strength to run over defenders, not around them.
Richardson seems like a sure thing now, but so did Curtis Enis, Dayne, Carter, Ronnie Brown, Chris Perry, Rashan Salaam...
The quarterbacks have Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley, while the running backs have Trent Richardson and LaMar Miller.
Richardson gets the publicity and will be the top running back taken, but Miller could be the better pro. Miller is younger and faster. He has the speed of LaMichael James and the frame to add 10 pounds of muscle to bump up to Richardson's 220-225 range.
Miller’s stats are comparable across the board, with the exception of touchdowns, to Richardson. While Richardson has the advantage of a stacked Alabama squad to take the pressure off him, Miller is the focus of every defense he faces. Again, it is tough to tell what you are getting with running backs and Miller could be the steal of the draft at the end of the first round.