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Friday, February 7, 2014
MVP replacements: Indianapolis Colts

By Mike Wells

Whether it's a marquee QB or an interior defensive lineman, no team can afford to lose its most valuable player.

So, who steps in if the unfathomable happens? Our NFL Nation reporters and Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl have teamed up to identify each team's most important player and which player in the 2014 draft each team can target to groom as a potential replacement -- MVP insurance. For some teams, their future stars may be slightly younger than others as draft-eligible non-seniors are denoted with an asterisk.

You would think the quarterback with the first name Peyton and last name Manning was still taking snaps under center for the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons.

Just as Manning did at different times during his 14 seasons with the Colts, Andrew Luck has made them winners despite obvious holes on the offensive line and a flawed defense.

That’s why Luck is the clear-cut team MVP.

Luck isn’t a product of the system. Green Bay was able to plug Matt Flynn in at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers' absence. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is a defensive-minded coach. Luck has been able to mask a number of their problems with his natural abilities. The Colts found out what it’s like not to have a backup plan when Manning missed the 2011 season. That is why Luck is wearing an Indianapolis’ jersey today.

Luck’s backup, Matt Hasselbeck, will be 39 years old next season and plans to retire at the end of the 2014 season.

Chandler Harnish has spent the past two seasons on the practice squad, but he’s done little in that span to prove he’s ready to take the necessary step to be Luck’s backup. Harnish only completed 47 percent of his pass attempts in the preseason last year.

The Colts can draft a quarterback in the middle or late rounds to be third on the depth chart in an attempt to make him Luck’s backup once Hasselbeck retires.

Potential pick: Tom Savage, QB, Pitt
Savage transferred to Arizona in 2011 after losing his starting job at Rutgers in 2010. Unfortunately for Savage, Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez in 2012 and he doesn’t fit Rodriguez’ system, so he transferred to Pitt the following year. Meanwhile, he sat out the 2011 and 2012 seasons in accordance with NCAA rules. Ideally teams would like to see a larger body of work, especially when it’s a quarterback. His accuracy has been erratic but he’s got the frame and arm strength to back up Luck in offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s system.

-- Steve Muench