Andrew Luck will be a great NFL quarterback. Everything about the way he plays and reads the game says as much. But he doesn't have to start the process at the NFL level this year, a fact reinforced even more by the way onetime potential No. 1 pick Sam Bradford didn't after his 2008 season. The reinforcement, of course, isn't just in that Bradford eventually became a No. 1 pick but also by the way in did it. Bradford came back to college, surprising many of us who would have a hard time telling anybody to pass on guaranteed lifetime of financial security, and he suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder almost immediately into the 2009 season. He was largely absent from Oklahoma's 2009 campaign.
But scouts believed in Bradford's talent, and the rest is recent history. I think Luck's status in the eyes of scouts far surpasses even Bradford's. And for someone as mature and self-aware as Luck, the decision to return to Stanford for what will be just his junior year as a former redshirt is one it's hard to fathom he'll regret. He'll be fine, his career will be good and the draft will still go on without him. So will the Big Board. For what it looks like now, see below. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.
Analysis: A possible No. 1 pick with Luck opting to stay in school, Bowers has followed through on his talent. A former top-rated overall recruit. Last week: No. 2
Analysis: Fairley simply dominated and has one more showcase game for scouts. He often was a force even while not 100 percent. A top-10 lock currently. Last week: No. 3
Analysis: Not sure people realize what kind of route-runner he's become. Green has worked hard to become a complete WR. Last week: No. 4
Analysis: An extraordinary athlete, Peterson doesn't just have safety size -- he'd measure up to a lot of RBs. Great total package -- cornerback and return game. Last week: No. 5
Analysis: Top marks for instincts, ball awareness and ball skills. It's as if he's running the route sometimes. Immediate starter. Last week: No. 6