Obviously no one would fault the Panthers for taking Luck. He is the consensus top available player and arguably the best quarterback prospect to come along since Peyton Manning.
But what if they don’t want Luck?
Passing over Luck isn’t an option – it would be a public relations nightmare which could haunt them for years and ultimately could cost Hurney his job. Trading the pick, however, is a very real possibility.
The Panthers are starving for NFL talent, and aren’t going to get much from this draft. Remember, they inexplicably traded their 2011 2nd-round pick for a 3rd-round pick in last year’s draft which they used on Armanti Edwards. Hurney needs to find a way to add more picks in this year’s draft, and trading the top selection would net him a nice package.
Any trade for Luck would have to look a lot like the Eli Manning trade in 2004. In that deal the Giants gave up their 2004 and 2005 1st round picks (Phillip Rivers and Shawne Merriman) as well as their 2004 3rd-round pick (Nate Kaeding) and 2005 5th-round pick (traded to Tampa Bay).
Considering the fact that the Panthers wouldn’t be getting a franchise quarterback in return such as Rivers, I would expect the price tag for Luck to be even higher. The Bills have the best chance to work out a deal, which I expect would require their 2011 and 2012 1st-round picks, as well as 3rd round pick this year and possibly a 3rd in next year’s draft as well.
Additionally, the Panthers benefit from the fact that multiple teams will be in the bidding to trade up for Luck. The Bills are an obvious option, as well as the Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins. Anyone outside the top-10 probably doesn’t have the ability to move up, unless they throw in a proven NFL starter as well.
Don’t be fooled by the recent statements that the Panthers intend to draft Luck. All that does is help ensure that Luck enters the draft. In no way does it mean they have actually settled on him. They simply know that they want the option to either take him or trade him – either way, with Luck in the draft the Panthers are big winners.