Handicapping the Andrew Luck race

Here are five early contenders to 'win' the rights to draft Stanford's star

Originally Published: September 17, 2011
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider
Andrew LuckAP Photo/Gerry BroomeThe race to land Andrew Luck in next year's draft has already begun.

Forecasting the NFL draft lineup in September is like forecasting the April weather. There just hasn't been enough football played to make any significant conclusions. That said, I must have been asked 10 times this week about who I thought was "in the lead" for Andrew Luck. Everyone seems convinced that if there was a season to go 0-16, this is the one.

It's a crazy thought, because teams simply don't tank their seasons in the NFL. Not only could having a record like that lead to a new coach and a gutted roster for a team that may have already had some promising young talent, but there are also potentially a couple of other legitimate top-five talents at quarterback in this year's draft class.

But when I mentioned it, my editor said it had to be done. So based on the current odds -- as in who currently has the worst shot to make the Super Bowl, and thus the best shot to have the worst record and land the top overall pick -- here's a look at which teams could be in the lead, why, why not, and whether they could pass up on Luck.

Carolina Panthers

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst