Colts now alone in lead for Andrew Luck

The Miami Dolphins found their surprise win on Sunday, knocking off the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Indianapolis Colts had no such breakthrough at home against the Atlanta Falcons, falling to 0-9.

Those results mean the Colts stand alone as the worst team in the NFL, and would hold the No. 1 pick in the draft if things remain aligned this way.

The No. 1 pick will be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, rated by a lot of folks in the player rating business as the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning in 1998 or John Elway in 1983.

We’re only halfway home, and although the Colts are terrible, there are big surprises every week in the NFL. I think it’s as difficult to go 0-16 as it is to go 16-0. The Colts' next opponent, Jacksonville, is 2-6. Although the Jaguars' defense can be very good, its offense is quite poor. Division games can be toss-ups.

But with the snowball rolling downhill so fast, it’s hard not to think about what the Colts should do if they wind up with the first pick and a healthy Manning.

Thus the attached poll.

We’ll presume Manning recovers from his neck surgery and is ready to play in 2012. They can go three directions:

  1. Draft Luck, keep Manning and deal with having a top-quarterback prospect pinned on the bench behind an all-time great.

  2. Draft Luck, and move on from Manning, trading the quarterback and his large contract.

  3. Trade the pick, or Luck, for as much as can be had, then attempt to stock the roster with talent for the next three years, going for it all aggressively for the remaining window for Manning.

Although I can see the strong case for the third option, it gives the Colts a three-year window. The other two options put the team in good shape at quarterback, presumably, for at least 10. In such a quarterback-driven league, I think a team can’t pass on one who is so highly regarded. I also can’t see the team and Manning parting, so as of right now I am expecting option No. 1.

But there is a lot that can happen in the second half of the season, and with Manning, between now and April. If the Colts wind up in the top spot, they’ll have options other bad teams would love to have.