The butterfly effect is an extremely interesting chaos theory to dive into. One decision or move can permanently change the career of many different people and franchises.
In a recently released NFL What If? segment, a panel of NFL analysts examined Andrew Luck's decision to remain in college for the 2011 season instead of going pro in 2010. Luck was considered to be the #1 prospect for 2010's draft, so it wasn't a surprise when he was selected #1 overall the following year by the Indianapolis Colts.
However, since Luck stayed in school instead of entering the 2010 draft, the Carolina Panthers ended up taking Cam Newton instead of landing the Stanford star. That was just one of the different effects Luck's decision had on the entire NFL. Other effects included where Peyton Manning ended up, who would select Robert Griffen III first overall in 2011, and which quarterbacks would needy franchises now select if their original guy wasn't still available?
You can watch the full segment to find out the effects on other franchises, but in this article, we'll be focusing on how this decision impacted the Philadelphia Eagles.
According to one scenario in the segment, with Cam Newton ultimately ending up in Denver with the Broncos and Peyton Manning signing with the Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles would have been free to select Russell Wilson with the 88th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
It's not shocking for Wilson to land in Philadelphia, the Eagles front office at the time has been very upfront that they were going to draft Wilson with their 3rd-round pick if he fell to them. The Wisconsin product went on record saying "If the Eagles draft me, I will lead the Eagles to championships."Instead, the Seahawks swiped him and the Eagles had to settle with drafting Nick Foles.
In another scenario brainstormed in the segment, the analysts discuss the possibility of the Eagles not settling for Russell Wilson at 88th overall in 2012. Instead, they would trade all the way up from 15th overall to the 1st overall pick to select Robert Griffin III. Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah said in the segment that Andy Reid met with the Baylor product and loved him.
Looking back at what the Redskins had to trade to the St. Louis Rams to secure getting Griffin III, they gave up their first-round selections in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and a 2012 second-round selection. The Eagles (15th) were nine spots lower than the Redskins (6th) in that draft, so to entice the Rams to take their offer over a potential Washinton offer, they would have had to throw in some type of combination of two high picks (in this case let's just say another 2012 second-rounder and 2013 third-rounder).
If the trade would have been successful, then that would have meant the Eagles added Robert Griffin III but lost the likes of Fletcher Cox (original 2012 first-round pick), Mychal Kendricks (2012 second-round), Vinny Curry (2012 second-round), Lane Johnson (2013 first-round), Bennie Logan (2013 third-round), and Marcus Smith (2014 first-round).
Of course there are plenty other effects that these moves would have had. If the Eagles landed one of these two quarterbacks there's a decent chance Andy Reid stays in Philly due to a 2012 season that ended up being much better than the 4-12 record the real-life team put together. However, if Andy Reid is still booted out the door, then Chip Kelly still comes to town and possibly remains the current Eagles coach if he has Russell Wilson running his "revolutionary offense" instead of pocket quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Sam Bradford.
With Russell Wilson under center from 2012-present, the Eagles would have likely secured their first Lombardi Trophy sooner than 2017. Although, in this scenario the Philly Special never takes place nor does any of that magic from the 2017 season that Eagles fans love to reminisce about.
At the other end of the spectrum, a healthy Robert Griffin III in Philly could have turned into something special too, but if he suffered the same career-altering injury in his rookie season in Philadelphia it would have set back the Eagles franchise for years (similar to what the Redskins have been experiencing since 2013).
At the end of the day none of these "what ifs" matter, as none of these scenarios played out. Still, it is interesting to see just how one player's decision affected the outlook of many NFL franchises.