Pressing Their Luck

NFL scouts will be watching Andrew Luck really closely on September 3rd, when his much-heralded senior season begins at home against San Jose State. Who will land this prized, brilliant prospect?

The teams that will be in the best position to land the top spot or trade up for it would be towards the top. Here’s my projected top 10 draft order for next year:
1. Oakland, projected record: 4-12
2. Cincinnati, projected record: 4-12
3. Buffalo, projected record: 6-10
4. Cleveland, projected record: 6-10
5. Denver, projected record: 6-10
6. Arizona, projected record: 6-10
7. Carolina, projected record: 6-10
8. Seattle, projected record: 6-10
9. Tennessee, projected record: 7-9
10. Kansas City, projected record: 7-9
Just missed: Chicago who always wins a few divisional games, San Francisco who has – in my opinion – the most pieces and the best talent in the division but will have some adjusting to do with Harbaugh being a first-time head coach.

So, who is going to make a move for him?

THE CONTENDERS
49ers
I expect the Harbaugh offense to work on this level. However, if Andrew Luck executes it ridiculously well again during his senior campaign, his old coach – who maybe owes a little bit of his salary to Luck – could aggressively try to make bring him to the Red and Gold.

Raiders
Oakland will have a shot at him, and will probably take him. It’s kinda unusual with today’s rules to start two QB’s and have them both finish with under 60% completion percentage. Oakland did that last year.

IN THE MIX
Bengals
Cincinnati will likely start ex-Raider and would-be 2x Bengal Bruce Gradkowski for the start of the season but will want to take a look at Dalton before the season is over. If he turns out to be a project – and I think he’ll be strongly between project and franchise his rookie season -, they will consider taking Luck if the Raiders pass. You might ask “why would the Raiders pass?”. My response would be “stranger things have happened”, especially with Al Davis running the show. You might also ask “why would they take Luck if they just spent a 2nd rounder on Dalton?”. There is a precedent for this with the Panthers taking Clausen in the 2nd in 2010 and Cam Newton in the 1st in 2011. Also, there will likely be a new coach and GM who might want to get “their guy”.

Broncos
John Elway, Stanford alumni, is a Andrew Luck fan. This goes back to the Cincinnati regime-change angle. Tebow is a McDaniels guy. If he’s slow in developing, don’t be surprised to see him moved and Luck drafted. I think Tebow will be good but there wasn’t enough last season to be sure.

Cardinals
I am expecting Arizona to upgrade at QB this season by bringing in Bulger but that was the worst offensive line in football last year, so – if he makes it through the year alive – he probably won’t be able to put up great stats and will inspire them to look for someone in the draft, maybe not early. Bulger had flirted with retirement in the past, so he doesn’t appear to have a lot of longevity.

Seahawks
Pete Carroll was on the receiving end of one humiliating defeat to Stanford and he and John Schneider reportedly are not sold on Charlie Whitehurst as the franchise quarterback.

LONGSHOTS
Bills
The Bills are a little bit of a penny-pinching organization these days. If there’s a serious wage scale, I could see them trading up but I could also see Andrew Luck telling them he wouldn’t sign with them. Overall, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick will have an even better season this year as his rapport with his young weapons – Easley, Spiller, Nelson, Stevie Johnson – grows. He’ll be 30 during the 2012 season.

Patriots
Belichick has the ammunition, including a quarterback -Ryan Mallet – whose surreal arm strength might woo Al Davis.


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