The Indianapolis Colts took Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft on Thursday night.
The redshirt junior from Stanford is considered one of the top quarterback prospects since Eli Manning left Ole Miss in 2004. It's expected Luck will be the team's starter when the season begins in September, filling the void left when Peyton Manning was released in March.
Most projected Luck as the top pick for the past two seasons, but he surprised the NFL and college football alike when he decided in January 2011 that he'd return for a final season at Stanford to earn his architecture degree.
After the draft began as advertised with Luck's selection and the Washington Redskins naming Baylor's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III the second pick, the intrigue finally began.
The first draft-day statement was made by the Cleveland Browns, who gave up four draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings to move up one spot, to No. 3 overall. The Browns then selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Adding local drama to that decision for Cleveland fans is the fact that former Browns Hall of Fame back Jim Brown recently called Richardson "ordinary."
Browns president Mike Holmgren obviously doesn't agree, based on what he paid for Richardson. The Browns reportedly gave their No. 4 overall spot plus picks in the fourth round (118 overall), fifth round (139 overall) and seventh round (211 overall).
"I didn't expect to go this high, but I work hard at what I do," Richardson said.
Minnesota then selected Southern California offensive tackle Ryan Kalil to provide a blind-side protector for 2011 first-round pick quarterback Christian Ponder.
Meanwhile, back at the top, the formality of naming Luck and Griffin is expected to be the first official chapter in what will likely be a career-long drama in which these two great athletes will continue to be joined at the hip, as it were.
And it is expected to be a far better ongoing story than the one began in 1998 when Indianapolis took Manning out of Tennessee and the San Diego Chargers followed by selecting Ryan Leaf out of Washington State. Their comparisons ended quickly as Manning flourished and Leaf floundered.