If he declares his candidacy for the 2011 NFL Draft, Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck will almost certainly end up in one place next season: The Carolina Panthers, according to sources of ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas. In the biggest no-brainer since LeBron James was being coveted by a cadre of NBA bottomfeeders, the Panthers seem ready to take their chance on a quarterback who’s at the height of his powers after a magnificent Orange Bowl performance that cemented his reputation.
For awhile, it was difficult to figure out whether the Panthers were willing to part with the quarterback they took in last year’s draft, Jimmy Clausen. Clausen struggled this season, but his team sort of stunk, so it’s hard to imagine him having any sort of discernible impact.
Luck brings a far greater upside though, and his second half shredding of Virginia Tech probably did more than enough to elevate him as the best quarterback prospect out of college since Peyton Manning. Whether Luck will be willing to make the plunge into a thankless situation in Carolina remains to be seen—the prospect of returning to Stanford to complete his degree still weighs heavily on Luck’s mind. It seems his options are narrowing (in contrast to his head coach Jim Harbaugh, whose options seem to keep on opening up).