It's been a foregone conclusion for months -- the Indianapolis Colts will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Luck is the most pro-ready college quarterback most people have seen in years, and for a Colts team rebuilding from the ground up, it makes all the sense in the world for Luck to be the man over Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who may have higher upside in the long term.
Well, not so fast. Colts owner Jim Irsay recently told USA Today that the team has made no absolute decision, and is in fact considering both Luck and Griffin with that most valuable of picks.
"It's up in the air. We have to look at this thing completely open-minded. You have two outstanding athletes, two great pure passers, two guys from families that are incredible ... If we get to the point where we're going to negotiate early, get something done before the draft, you never rule that out. We've talked to both agents. We haven't negotiated yet.''
One may term this a pre-emptive move to let the agents for both quarterbacks know that the Colts aren't locked in, but with the new rookie cap in place, that's less a factor than it would have been in years past. What this could be is yet another example of the shift that has taken place in recent days among those watching more Baylor game tape. As Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup" told us in Monday's draft podcast, it's easy to put Griffin alongside or above Luck as a pure prospect. It's a switch I made a couple months ago, and based on Luck's Pro Day, it could be argued that the fit for both players might be better if Griffin went first and Luck second.
New Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was known for his multiple spread-style formations in Pittsburgh, and that's a great match for Griffin, who played an advanced three-digit, multi-read spread offense at Baylor. Given Luck's impressive ability to run and throw from play action and boot action from all angles in his Palo Alto workout, he seemed like the ideal Mike Shanahan quarterback -- in fact, I thought he looked a lot like Steve Young, who Shanahan coached from 1992 through 1994 as the San Francisco 49ers' offensive assistant.
At the 2012 scouting combine, Griffin certainly didn't sound like a man ready to concede the first overall pick to anyone else.
"As competitors, you both want to be the best," he said. "Whether I go No. 1 or not, it's not going to change who I am, it's not going to change my confidence. But I'd be a fool to say I don't want to go No. 1 in the draft because I think I do, Andrew does, Matt Kalil does, Trent Richardson does. You ask any of them, they want to go No. 1. That's the main reason. It's not that I think they should not pick him or they should pick me. We all want to be the best so I'm not going to sit here and say I don't want to go No. 1 ... as a quarterback, when you step on the field, if you don't believe you're the best, you're not going to go out there and perform like you're the best."
Add in the fact that the Redskins had a full contingent at Luck's Pro Day -- owner Dan Snyder, general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan -- and it's easy to wonder if there isn't some fire behind Irsay's smoke.
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