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Andrew Luck Declares for 2012 NFL Draft, but Is He Walking into Colts Nightmare?

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Andrew Luck Declares for 2012 NFL Draft, but Is He Walking into Colts Nightmare?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If it wasn't already widely known in NFL circles, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck essentially said on ESPN today that it was a foregone conclusion that he'll declare for the 2012 NFL draft.

Big surprise. 

With the 0-12 Indianapolis Colts firmly in control of the "race" to secure the No. 1 pick, it's a good bet at this point that Luck will be drafted by the Colts with that selection next April.  

But is Luck, arguably the most highly regarded quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, about to walk into a nightmare situation in Indianapolis for next season?

I wouldn't rule it out.

The Colts have proven this season that their problems are wide-spread and without an easy fix.

Of course, quarterback play has been one of the primary factors in that, as Manning was replaced with the likes of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. But Manning and the quarterbacks don't tackle, cover or block, so it stands to reason that there's a lot more wrong with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 than just the loss of Peyton Manning.  

There's also the fact that the Colts have four pretty big free agents hitting the market this offseason. Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Pierre Garcon are all unrestricted free agents after the 2011 season.

You'd have to figure that the Colts want to bring back a young receiver like Garcon no matter what the circumstances, but the other three—all big contributors for past Colts teams—may be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Regardless of those three, it stands to reason that a team without a win through 12 games would want to make significant roster changes in the coming off-season.  

The final nightmare situation for Luck might be the one he has to face with Manning. 

If the Colts draft Luck No. 1 overall, they will have a big decision to make with their Hall of Fame quarterback. If he's healthy, do you keep him on the roster? Luck is ready to play in the NFL right now, and you're not obviously going to have Manning on the bench. 

If the Colts parted ways with Manning, Luck would be facing a similar situation as we've seen with other quarterbacks replacing living legends. Think of the guys who have replaced some of history's biggest names at quarterback; it's not an easy situation and few have thrived. 

It's going to be hard enough for Luck to come into the NFL and match the ridiculously high expectations that most have put on him throughout the scouting process. But now he has to replace one of the game's best quarterbacks of all-time, a guy who's won four MVPs and gotten the Colts to two Super Bowls? Talk about expectations for a young quarterback.

And what if the Colts keep Manning, forcing Luck to sit a couple of years? He's ready to go right now just like Manning was back in 1999. There would be nothing wrong with sitting behind Manning for a little while, but who knows how long Manning will continue to play? No one wants another Brett Favre situation to play out in Indianapolis, at least from the drama and media circus standpoint. 

So while I think there are positives of Luck going to Indianapolis, it's certainly far from a perfect situation. There's going to be a lot more involved than just grabbing that Colts hat on draft day and becoming the franchise's savior. 

No situation for a No. 1 pick is ever perfect, really, but this one certainly has some different flavors to it. Indianapolis is likely going to have some kind of off-season on its hands this summer.

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