Andrew Luck Staying At Stanford

NFL Draft

I was a bit shocked when I heard Andrew Luck will be returning to Stanford for another season. Luck is passing up the chance of being the top player selected in the draft, a spot that was all but guaranteed by the Carolina Panthers earlier this week. With the persistent rumors of Jim Harbaugh leaving for the NFL it made sense that Luck would follow suit, but it appears that Luck is comfortable staying at Stanford regardless. While it isn’t clear what all factored into Luck’s decision, I would imagine that the coaching uncertainty at Carolina, as well as a roster devoid of a lot of talent gave him pause about entering the draft. Although Luck might not know who will be his head coach next season at Stanford, he knows the players and talent around him that will be back next year. Stanford will bring back a talented team next year and should compete for another Pac-10 (12) BCS Bowl bid.

While it is possible that the NFL labor uncertainty played a role in Luck’s decision, I’m not totally buying that. I really don’t see a lockout coming into affect and think the season will play out like usual. I think Luck may have been swayed by seeing that an injury didn’t affect Sam Bradford’s draft status, and that he should be in a similar boat. With Gabbert coming out and Mallett and Newton expected to follow there really isn’t a quarterback primed to challenge Luck for the top spot, and even if there was I don’t think it would make a big difference to Luck.

Andrew Luck isn’t the only one affected by his decision to stay in school. Here are some of the winners and losers with Luck coming back:

Winners:

Stanford: Getting Luck back gives them another shot at a Pac-10/12 title and even a chance for the National Championship. It will be a huge boost to their program as well as recruiting both short and long term.

Chris Owusu: At the beginning of the season Stanford’s junior wide receiver was expected to maybe follow Luck and Harbaugh to the NFL as a 3rd or 4th round pick. But with an injury filled season his draft stock took a major hit, and staying in school was the right call. Now with Luck back, he can not only prove he is healthy, but could put up the numbers to warrant a 1st round selection.

Whomever Holds the Top Pick in 2012: Although Luck could even decide to return to school for another season, I think its a safe bet he is in the 2012 draft. Now whatever team finishes with the worst record this season, will be rewarded with Andrew Luck.

Mallett, Newton, Gabbert, Locker: All of these other quarterback prospects move up one now on the rankings chart and for some of these guys it might mean being picked quite a bit earlier than previously thought. None of these prospects right now project to go number 1 overall, but they all improve their draft stock.

Losers:

Carolina Panthers: Boy today can’t be easy for the Panthers and their fans. It has been an awful all-around year filled with mismanagement and bad coaching, and now the one consolation prize, Andrew Luck, gets taken away from them. They will still get an incredible football player, but he won’t be Andrew Luck. And if they do decide to trade out of the top spot, now they won’t have nearly the leverage that they would have had with Luck in this draft. While there is a chance that the Panthers could be picking atop the 2012 draft, teams typically don’t finish last in back-to-back years, meaning one of the other 31 teams will have the right to take Luck next season.

The Pac-12 teams: Luck might be good for the conference overall, but if you are a team like Arizona or Oregon looking to win the conference having to go through Luck is not something you will be looking forward to. Even without Harbaugh Luck will make Stanford a very tough matchup, and could ruin some National title hopes.

The top prospects/quarterbacks for 2012: While it is unclear yet who the top quarterbacks/prospects for the 2012 draft will be (in part because not everyone has decided whether or not to declare) everyone moves down at least one spot. It could especially be bad for the quarterbacks as there are only so many openings at a time, and with a strong class this year, you will need to be an exceptional prospect to be drafted early in 2012. With Luck filling up one spot, other quarterbacks could fall far in the draft as the need might not be there.


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