NFC South: NFL Nation Confidential: Franchise player

Players across NFL locker rooms were faced with the same conundrum as the Indianapolis Colts two years ago – Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck? Ultimately, they voted to try to “win now.”

Both of those names came up frequently when I presented this question to players in the New Orleans Saints’ locker room (since they weren’t allowed to vote for Drew Brees). Clearly, the one thing that most players did seem to agree on was that the smartest plan for team building is to start with a quarterback, one way or the other.

Brees got a little love around the league, finishing seventh in the voting. But he was caught in no-man’s land, losing “veteran” votes to Manning and Tom Brady and losing some of the younger QB votes to Luck and Aaron Rodgers. Still, I think whichever team wound up picking seventh in this draft would be pretty happy with the results over the next five years.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Denver quarterback Peyton Manning might have been the player most of the league would want if they had to start a team from scratch, but he wasn't the overwhelming choice among the Carolina Panthers surveyed.

Manning finished second to Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. In fact, of the 10 surveyed, seven different players were picked. Six of those were quarterbacks.

But what's interesting, of the quarterbacks Carolina players selected, only Seattle's Russell Wilson was a threat as a runner. The rest, for the most part, were pure pocket passers.

This tells me players are more worried about quarterbacks that can beat you with their arm than their legs.

And that a running back, such as Peterson, is rare.
It makes perfect sense that NFL players would vote Peyton Manning as the one player they would start a franchise with today. Manning is, of course, one of a kind.

The tremendous impact he has had on two franchises is telling. His command of an offense is unmatched, in my eyes. His 65.5 career completion percentage speaks to his accuracy and consistency.

A handful of Atlanta Falcons contributed to the vote being in Manning's favor, although some of the same Falcons made Manning look like anything but a franchise player when they picked him off three times during a 2012 win over the Denver Broncos.

It was interesting to see how much attention was given lately to Manning's losing playoff record. He is now at 10-11 going into the AFC Championship Game against long-time rival Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. No matter how you dissect his career, Manning still comes out a winner.

Now if the question was posed differently and players were asked which young quarterback they would start a franchise with, I guarantee Andrew Luck would have been first on the list. Luck was second on the list behind Manning in the voting, anyhow. Seems only fitting, considering Luck is Manning's heir in Indianapolis.