Many reports have surfaced that, like Sam Bradford two years ago, the projected top pick in the draft may stay in college for another year.
Only a redshirt sophomore, Andrew Luck is already the best quarterback I've scouted in at least the past five years, and only Eli Manning/Phillip Rivers were close to or better than him in my scouting history. Still, though, it's a very real possibility that Luck stays in college for another year.
And while the seven teams in the first half of the 1st round as well as the top Heisman hopefuls may not like his possible decision to stay in college, these ten people have the most to gain if Andrew Luck stays another year at Stanford.
10. Da'Quan Bowers
As of now, Luck is the consensus top quarterback coming out in this draft. But if he were to stay in school, he could very well be surpassed by Bowers, a defensive end from Clemson.
A highly touted prospect out of high school, Bowers has outstanding size for a 4-3 defensive end, the speed of a strong safety, and the agility and lateral quickness to get past most NFL left tackles. He's the nation's leading sack leader as well.
So if Luck stays, Bowers could be even more coveted as a prospect and the probable best player on most boards.
9. The Heisman Trust
Having Cam Newton win the Heisman Trophy, though he was no question the most deserving on the field, must have killed the Heisman trust. They already know how frustrating it is that Reggie Bush had to waste a year of the award, and it could be the same thing for Cam Newton.
If Luck comes back, he'll be the strong favorite for the Heisman trophy, and he and Kellen Moore put two very high character guys at the forefront, plus LaMichael James returning could make the voting very interesting and more wide-open.
8. Oliver Luck
Oliver Luck is the former great football player and Rhodes Scholar who is the current athletic director of West Virginia University. Oliver Luck said at the West Virginia bowl game that the decision is very much still up in the air and it will ultimately be Andrew's decision.
However, because Oliver Luck is relatively wealthy and really favors a strong education, it's obvious he's lean will be for Andrew to stay in college. What does he have to gain? Well, he can prolong the process, give his son a better education, and most likely have his son become more mature and more NFL ready by staying another year.
7. Josh Nunes/Robbie Picazo
Two no names outside of Stanford Cardinal fans and students, these two are both true freshman this year. And if Andrew Luck were to declare for the draft, it's very likely that one of these two, probably Nunes, would be the starter of the Stanford Cardinal.
From reports I've read on both quarterbacks, neither is going to be an Andrew Lucky type player, and one or both need to really improve if they hope to be capable starters in the Pac-10. If Luck can stay another year, both of these quarterbacks can develop even more, and can be readier when Luck eventually leaves.
6. Tyron Smith
The two most important positions when building a team are, number one, quarterback and then left tackle. We've seen in year's past that if a team doesn't feel they can support a high priced rookie quarterback or they don't like an available one enough, they look towards the left tackle spot.
And as of now, Smith from USC is the top left tackle prospect, just edging out Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin on our board. If Luck stays in school, look for Carolina, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Arizona to look more strongly at Smith or Carimi if they don't really like a quarterback past Luck.
5. Bob Bowlsby
A definite random name to some, Bowlsby is the Stanford Athletic Director. While he may be a boring person to look at, he's in charge of every sport and the overall prestige of this program.
If Luck stays, there are tons of benefits. Jim Harbaugh may be more likely to stick around for another year or two with Luck. The program won't have to go to sudden rebuilding and retooling as quickly. The program will be a Top 5 ranked team and have the Heisman favorite. And with the new Pac-12 conference with many more revenue opportunities, having the probable best team in the conference, outside of Oregon, Stanford can get a great start on keeping their football tradition and revenues high.
4. Jim Harbaugh/Next Stanford Head Coach
Simply put, if Luck decides to stay before Harbaugh takes an NFL or the Michigan job, Harbaugh has a very good reason to stick around.
But, in all likelihood, Harbaugh is gone. The Michigan job is his dream job, and if that's not there, the NFL wants him. And that means Stanford will be on the hunt for a new coach. Who wouldn't want to be the head man with the best quarterback in the country? I'd say Brady Hoke, another favorite for the Michigan job, would be a very nice replacement; just a thought.
3. Chris Owusu
While he's wasn't the top receiver coming into this season for Stanford, he finished as the third leading receiver, the highest YPC receiver on the team, and will be the team's leading returning receiver.
At 6'2, 200, he has the size to make it in the NFL, and if he can have a year as Andrew Luck's top target, he could soar up draft boards. As of now, he'll likely go into the 2012 NFL draft as a 4th-5th round prospect, but could become a prospect as high as a 2nd rounder.
2. Jake Locker
Locker struggled at times this year, mostly because of the team's lack of aggresive, reliable-handed receivers and the frustrating lack of talent on the offensive line. Keep in mind that last year, some NFL scouts and myself felt that Locker was a better prospect than Sam Bradford.
This year, his struggles have been even more evident, and he's "fallen down draft boards", though I highly doubt it's anything more than Andrew Luck being there. Locker is a great talent, and while before he may have been the 2nd or 3rd quarterback taken, if Luck stays in school, he may be the 1st or 2nd one taken.
1. Blaine Gabbert
That's right, Blaine Gabbert, quarterback from Missouri. He's only a junior and this season was a bit of a disappointment based on how Missouri and myself thought they'd do this year.
However, based on what I've seen from last year and this season, Gabbert has all the tools to be a great NFL pocket passer, and in my opinion in tied with Locker in terms of NFL Draft quarterback rankings. If Luck stays, I expect Gabbert to leave and he could be a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft.