Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is the odds-on favorite to be the #1 pick in the NFL draft – a smart kid with good physical tools.  There are a few bottom feeders with a quarterback in place (notably the Rams, Panthers, and Cardinals), but most of the other teams at the bottom of the stands would take Luck – even the Vikings, who used a first found pick for Christian Ponder in the 2011 draft.

There is the thought that the allure of Luck will cause some teams to tank down the stretch, resulting in some games that are real stinkers.  It’s hard to talk about tanking without bringing the Colts into the discussion.  The Colts are already in great position for the #1 pick, with an 0-8 record.  They let the Saints score 60 on them a couple of weeks ago (apparently Peyton Manning is also a defensive back).  Peyton Manning has been an iron man in his career, and the Colts never acquired a decent backup  for him.  As a result, they were in hot water when Manning ended up on the shelf this year with a bad neck.

Even if Manning is medically cleared at some point in the season, will the Colts put him on the field?  If Manning gets onto the field and wins a couple of games late in the season, these wins could knock the Colts out of the top spot in the draft.  Does keeping Manning on the sideline amount to tanking?  In my opinion, no.  There’s also the injury to be concerned about.  With the Colts having no shot at a playoff bid, why risk aggravating the injury by rushing him back.  The prudent decision is just to sit him and have him start anew in 2012.

Some people are suggesting that football move to a lottery system, similar to what the NBA has.  If the league feels that this is a better option that the current system (which guarantees the best picks for the teams with the worst records), then by all means go ahead and move to a lottery system (in fairness, I assume that such a solution couldn’t be implemented until the 2012 draft at earliest).  But don’t make the change because of one player – this would be a knee-jerk reaction.  Andrew Luck could turn out to be the next Peyton Manning – or the next JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, or Akili Smith.

It’s also important to note that sports drafts are not intended to be fair.  They are not intended to distribute talent equally.  In fact, the intent is to distribute talent unevenly, with the better players going to the worse teams.  This is intended to achieve competitive balance, but is certainly not “fair” to good teams that work hard to scout and develop players.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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