After the Heisman decision has been made the bowl games must be played.
After all of the hoopla surrounding college football settles down, the NFL takes precedent and the young men who have decided to reject another year of NCAA football and enter the draft will have time to present themselves to the football executives.
The combine becomes insurmountable, the pro days become both positive and negative influences on a franchise head’s judgment and the names are eventually called as players invited to the draft hug their newest commissioner and are welcomed into the NFL to begin their professional careers at the most elite level football can provide.
However, with the draft comes brash predictions that could honestly go either way, because as we have witnessed in the past these decisions are not an exact science. No one could have formed a hypothesis the Atlanta Falcons would trade up and snag Julio Jones so high. Jake Locker was taken before Blaine Gabbert, and Mark Ingram was actually drafted by the Saints almost falling out of the first round.
Nothing is guaranteed and the aim of franchises’ front offices can only be determined after those names have been called by Roger Goodell himself. However, one thing is certain about the Indianapolis Colts. Whether or not the team feels Peyton Manning could come back and start a few more years for the organization, they need a backup plan just in case things do not work out the way they planned.
Curtis Painter is not a viable solution, so looking toward the draft where there are a few more mature prospects would be vital to ensuring success in the league. This way, if Manning is unable to play the entire season out there will be an able QB that has been sitting behind him and learning from him to step up and take the challenge head on.
Painter had his chance and less than proved himself behind veteran Kerry Collins in Indy. It is time to move on.
However, trouble may lie ahead as Indianapolis attempts to figure out exactly which QB would adequately fit its plan within the Colts’ locker room. Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III sit at the positions one and two of the prospect chart for every position eligible in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Depending on how the Colts intend on addressing the QB situation, this will determine who goes first in the draft and who’s moved to the second position of the draft’s QB depth chart.
There are specific questions that need to be asked and answered before moving forward and ultimately selecting the better-suited QB for the Colts’ future. One stands out more important than all the others.
How long will Peyton Manning be with the Indianapolis Colts?
If the answer is that they will not rely on his skills further than this season and will opt to trade him off or go in a different direction, the obvious choice is to select Andrew Luck with the No.1 pick in the draft.
He is the most complete and experienced college QB in the draft and has a better chance to come into a franchise and immediately make a difference on the overall personality, culture and impact a team has on the league. Luck is by no means overrated.
The questions that arise about his accuracy are factors can be quickly addressed and formatted to properly fit the needs of the Colts. Honestly, anything he brings would be a step up from the drought of success Indy experienced as its leading man watched the team pummeled week in and week out by teams that would normally be a cakewalk.
The team has undoubtedly been shell-shocked, and if Manning can no longer contribute the only tangible resolve would be to bring in the QB in the best position to immediately puncture the disabilities of the organization and revitalize the fanbase.
Luck has all the tools necessary to make this happen.
Luck’s stat line: 3,170 passing yds, 35 passing TDs, 9 INT, 153 rushing yds, 2 rushing TDs
However, there is a strong possibility Peyton Manning will remain a Colt and may even be able to return to the franchise’s starting lineup sooner than later. If this is the case, believe the fact that the more impressive of the Manning brothers will retain his position as the starting QB for at least a few more seasons.
If this is the call the team makes, bringing in Luck would be a horrible decision, first and foremost because Luck is not the quarterback you bring in to sit behind anyone, even the majestic Manning.
Even Archie Manning has spoken out about Luck’s probable unwillingness to sit behind his son:
"We know Andrew well. He comes down to our camp every year," said Archie Manning, referring to the family's offseason passing academy in Louisiana. He and Luck's father, Oliver, were also teammates on the Houston Oilers in the 1980s.
"Peyton's always tried to help Andrew and kind of be a friend. (But) I doubt if either one of them want to play on the same team."
Luck has been calling the shots within Stanford’s offense for too long to have a reduced role at a higher level for more than just a season. So, who steps in to take his place?
Why, Robert Griffin III, of course.
RGIII is a famed college quarterback and is one of the most complete mobile players at his position I have ever seen. Yes, that was adequately stated the first time. Ever. He would of course be pushed into a situation similar to that of the one Aaron Rodgers was in with the Green Bay Packers behind Brett Favre.
Favre was not exactly entirely open to mentoring Rodgers, yet the current leader in the regular-season MVP race learned a lot from just sitting on the sidelines and watching one of the greatest that ever played go to work every game.
When it was finally time for Rodgers to snag the starting position, well, you know the rest.
Griffin’s stat line: 3,998 passing yds, 36 passing TDs, 6 INT, 644 rushing yds, 9 rushing TDs
Griffin is already a great QB, but he would be entirely more inclined to sit behind Manning for a few seasons to polish his talents and max out his potential with the Colts. His humility and his journey thus far have given off the feeling that he would be more open to the idea than Luck would.
Grooming a successor is what the Colts should be more inclined to do if Manning is cleared to play next season.
The race for the No. 1 spot in the 2012 NFL draft is up for grabs between these two men and the decision solely rests on the answer to that one question. Whichever answer the franchise gives in Peyton Manning’s case will format the journey of the next main character in Indy’s saga. Their future in Indianapolis lies in Manning’s hands.
Follow @nyhlaablack on Twitter