At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. This weekend we have two roundtables - one Saturday and one today.
TODAY'S QUESTION: Looking ahead to next year's NFL draft, is there anybody other than Stanford QB Andrew Luck who could go No. 1?
Olin Buchanan's answer:
Unless he suffers a significant injury - and let's hope he doesn't - I could not envision a realistic scenario in which Andrew Luck would not be the first player selected in next year's draft. Realistic means that I doubt Detroit or St. Louis - teams that have used the first overall pick to draft a quarterback recently - will have the top choice. Luck has a great arm, he's smart and poised, can read defenses and has that "it factor" in leadership. He has been called the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, and I agree with that. A quarterback with that much ability and potential cannot be passed up. The teams in the back of the draft have good quarterbacks. That's no coincidence. Bottom line is if a team is drafting first it more than likely needs a quarterback. And if there is a chance to draft a guy who could be the next Peyton Manning, you have to take him.
Tom Dienhart's answer:
The only players who would seem to have a shot to go before Luck are USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and Oregon running back LaMichael James. From that group, Barkley is the one with the best shot to be picked before Luck. He has a powerful arm, can make all the throws and plays in an NFL-style attack. But at 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds, Barkley lacks ideal size, and he needs to cut down on his mistakes. Still, he looks like a special prospect for the quarterback-starved NFL.
David Fox's answer:
I suppose anything could happen - injury, difficulty with the coaching change - but it would take something major to push Luck out of the first round. Remember Sam Bradford? He could have been the top pick in the 2009 draft had he left early. He spent almost all of the 2010 season at Oklahoma injured and still went first overall the following season. Moreover, Luck may be more of a sure thing than Bradford. Luck played for a former NFL quarterback, played in a pro system, elevated a team to new heights - all the things that are impossible to resist. I suppose if Carolina, Tennessee or Jacksonville end up picking first next season, they would have to go for a Quinton Coples or Jared Crick since they just took quarterbacks Thursday. Other than that, bad NFL teams should spend the next year on the Andrew Luck watch.
Mike Huguenin's answer:
Counting Cam Newton in this draft, nine of the past 11 overall No. 1s have been used on quarterbacks. And unless Luck gets hurt badly - as in a severe shoulder or elbow injury - he's going to make it 10 of 12. Even if he remains healthy but struggles some this season because of Stanford's coaching change, the team picking No. 1 won't overlook his talent.
Steve Megargee's answer:
Luck clearly will head into the 2011 season as the probable No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft, but recent history shows us nothing is guaranteed. At this time last year, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. reportedly said it was "etched in stone" that Washington quarterback Jake Locker would be the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. But after Locker battled inconsistency and injuries in his senior season at Washington, it was considered a bit of a surprise that he went as high as eighth overall to the Tennessee Titans. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn entered his senior season as the favorite to get taken first overall in the 2007 NFL draft. That all changed when LSU's JaMarcus Russell outplayed him in the Sugar Bowl. Russell went first overall to the Oakland Raiders, while Quinn wasn't taken until the 22nd pick. My gut feeling is that Luck won't have the same kind of fall as Locker or Quinn. Luck doesn't have the accuracy problems that Locker and Quinn (to a lesser extent) encountered in their college careers. But it's much too early to assume anything about next year's draft.