Report: Luck is indeed leaving Stanford early
Posted on: November 23, 2011 10:55 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:52 pm
It'll be a happy Thanksgiving for a few general managers likely to be perched at the top of next year's NFL draft.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck plans to enter the 2012 NFL Draft according to a Yahoo Sports report, which cites two sources in saying Luck won't be back for a fourth and final college season.
The redshirt junior, considered the No. 1 overall prospect since the start of the 2010 season, surprised most when he decided after the Cardinal won the Orange Bowl to return for his redshirt junior season in 2011 to finalize his degree in architectural engineering. The Charlotte Observer reported in January that Luck, not Cam Newton of Auburn, was the Panthers' top-ranked prospect. When Luck returned, Newton was the No. 1 overall pick and has put up gaudy statistics starting since Week 1.
Luck has started since his freshman season and given head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited him to Palo Alto, moved on to the 49ers, some saw Luck as a sure bet to follow him to the pros.
Harbaugh said Luck is the anti-franchise quarterback in that he doesn't follow any "social expectations in his life." As one example, Harbaugh said some of Luck's closest ties outside of the Stanford locker room were with intellectual professors.
On the field, Luck has been portrayed as the total package at a position considered the most important to winning in the NFL. He's expected to be a Heisman Trophy finalist and will leave Stanford with a number of passing records and marks for wins, including many that previously belonged to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Luck as one of three or possibly four quarterbacks who will be first-round picks in 2012, assuming multiple juniors, including Luck and Southern California's Matt Barkley, opt to leave school early.
He's been scouted heavily by the Indianapolis Colts, who at 0-10 are the most likely team to hold the No. 1 overall pick. All other NFL teams have at least two victories.
The Colts' situation could be interesting from many angles. Luck received direct counsel from injured All-Pro Peyton Manning, who played all four years of his eligibility at Tennessee, when weighing his draft-vs.-Stanford decision in January. Manning wants to return to the Colts next season. But he's had three neck surgeries and his health status is very much unknown.
Indianapolis, which signed Manning to a five-year, $90 million contract in July, can release Manning in March and avoid the final four years of his contract. That would clear the path for luck, a player management and owner Jim Irsay said has to be considered if indeed Indianapolis drafts at the top spot in April.
Vice chairman Bill Polian, who built his previous teams around quarterbacks -- Jim Kelly in Buffalo, Kerry Collins in Carolina and Manning with the Colts -- has scouted Luck on multiple occasions in person. Polian and Manning said they've discussed the scenario, but have not shared what factors will dictate the direction the team takes in March and April.