Winning the Heisman Trophy is not a ticket to NFL stardom.
For every Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett, there’s a Gino Torretta and Rashaan Salaam.
So where does that place Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Boise State’s Kellen Moore?
Luck looks like a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in April. Richardson could return to Alabama, and Moore is a project.
How will this year’s top Heisman hopefuls fare when it comes to NFL careers? Let’s see.
Case Keenum, QB, Houston
Do the names David Klingler and Andre Ware ring a bell?
Well they should. Both were stars in college at Houston and went on to become huge busts in the NFL.
It may be unfair to lump Keenum with these two, but it’s the best comparison to make.
Keenum is breaking all kinds of NCAA records (thanks to getting a sixth season), but he’ll be nothing more than a third-stringer in the NFL.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Robert Griffin III has been a great story this season, but it’s hard to see exactly how his exceptional athletic skills translate into the pro game.
He’s also an extremely accurate thrower and could benefit greatly from one more season at Baylor.
Maybe he could be a Kordell Stewart type.
Prediction: Not a star, but not a bust
Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Russell Wilson has already given professional baseball a shot, but in two seasons in the minors he hasn’t hit any better than .230.
Regardless, baseball may still be his best shot at being a star in the pros.
Wilson is having a great season at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State, but he’s only 5’10”, and that just won’t cut it at quarterback in the NFL.
Maybe he’ll get a shot at receiver.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Sammy Watkins would be a first-round pick right now, but he’s just a true freshman for Clemson.
He has displayed elite athleticism, great speed and outstanding hands.
Watkins can also return kicks and has a lot to offer an NFL team in the future.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Brandon Weeden is another guy who has professional baseball experience but doesn’t have a shot at going back to it.
So the NFL is his best shot to succeed.
Weeden has enjoyed back-to-back strong seasons, but his advanced age is going to work against him.
Most NFL teams won’t use a high pick on a guy who has a window of four to six years.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Landry Jones is a nice college quarterback.
He has the size, arm strength and accuracy to be successful.
But he also has a history of not delivering when he’s facing stiff defensive pressure.
In the NFL, every quarterback must deal with a lot of activity in their face.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Denard Robinson is an elite athlete, but he won’t be on any NFL team’s draft board as a quarterback.
A team like the Raiders will probably take a flier on him as a pure athlete, but there is no way Robinson ever starts as a quarterback in the NFL.
Now the CFL? That could be his future.
Prediction: Great CFL player
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
It’s easy to pick on Kellen Moore’s lack of arm strength, and he would be an undersized quarterback in the NFL.
But you can’t overlook his unbelievable accuracy and his leadership skills. This guy just wins.
His level of competition hasn’t prepared him well for the next level, but no team is going to draft him to be the future of the team.
What I do see is a team like the Colts or Patriots going with Moore as a fifth- or sixth-round pick. Then they’ll groom him to be a career backup.
Prediction: Not a star, but a contributor
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Trent Richardson established himself as a future star as a freshmen, even with eventual Heisman winner Mark Ingram getting the bulk of the carries.
Richardson has lived up to the hype this season as Alabama’s featured back.
He’s a legitimate contender with Andrew Luck for the Heisman, and he will likely be the top running back taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The only reason he won’t be is if he decides to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck would have been the No. 1 pick last year, and he will be that pick this year.
As a senior, Luck won’t be at Stanford beyond this year, so he is probably going to be taken by the Dolphins or Colts.
He’s considered one of the best college quarterback prospects since John Elway left Stanford.
Luck is tough, can run with the ball and, of course, he has the arm strength that NFL scouts drool over (no matter what Phil Simms says).
Prediction: Future Hall of Famer