The presumed No. 1 overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft, Stanford QB Andrew Luck (Creative Commons/Michael Li).
Leading up to the 1998 NFL Draft, there was a quarterback battle brewing between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf about who would be the first overall selection in the draft. Scouts gushed over every aspect both QBs and proclaimed them as phenomenal prospects. There was a general consensus that if an NFL franchise landed either of the QBs, they would be set for the next ten-to-15 years. Football fans all know how that draft turned out, with the Indianapolis Colts selecting Manning first overall, and Peyton becoming one of the greatest QBs of all time. The San Diego Chargers, which had the third overall pick, traded two first=round picks, a second-round pick and three-time Pro-Bowler Eric Metcalf to the Arizona Cardinals (who had a young QB of their own in Jake Plummer) just to move up one spot to the second overall selection. Leaf went on to become one of the biggest busts of all time and it ended up ruining the Chargers franchise for the following six years.
Fourteen years later, we have strikingly similar characteristics in the 2012 NFL Draft. The two top quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, are widely speculated to go first and second in the draft. The team with the number one draft selection, once again the Indianapolis Colts, seem to be a near lock to select Luck. With the St. Louis Rams at the number two selection, and having in their mind their franchise QB in Sam Bradford (who was the top selection in the 2010 NFL Draft), there is bound to be an all out bidding war for that #2 overall pick and the ability to draft Griffin III.
Robert Griffin III is the 2011 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor. He completely turned around Baylor's football program, similar to what Luck did with Stanford. He ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash -- fastest among all QBs -- which led to his very impressive showing at the NFL Combine. He is charismatic and humbl, and shows the qualities of a great leader. After watching athletic QB Cam Newton have a fantastic rookie season this past season, NFL teams are drooling at the ultra-athletic potential of RGIII and want him as an outstanding consolation prize since they lost the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes. Also, with the new rookie wage scale in place, RGIII would be much cheaper than potential free agent QBs such as Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn. The question is: Who will have the guts to trade such a big package to select this potential franchise-changing quarterback?
The Browns are the favorites to trade up in the draft to select the Heisman winner from Baylor (Creative Commons/shutterBRI).
The three teams most likely to participate in the all-out bidding war for Griffin III are the Washington Redskins (6th overall pick), Miami Dolphins (8th overall pick), and my personal favorite to land RGIII, the Cleveland Browns (4th overall). My reasoning for the Browns getting Griffin? The Browns and the entire city of Cleveland need a savior. While Kyrie Irving has provided some light at the end of the tunnel with his great, in-progress rookie season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the people of Cleveland need to see their football team rise from the dead. The Browns also have the best potential package since they have two first round picks this year (4th and 22nd), along with numerous other picks they can trade for. Current Browns starter Colt McCoy is a nice low end starter/future backup QB; however when a team has an opportunity to draft a talent like Griffin, they go for it. And you know QB extraordinaire Mike Holmgren (President of the Browns) is drooling for the opportunity to add another great QB project to his resume (which includes Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck). The Rams would also still be able to grab one of their favorite prospects since they would only be dropping back two spots (either Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon or USC tackle Matt Kalil), so they would probably be more inclined to do the deal as well.
In the end, we have had quite a few surprises on draft day, so don't be shocked if a "mystery team" ends up impressing the Rams and landing Griffin III. The franchise who does land RGIII should be very happy for the next decade.
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