Sources: Panthers to pick Andrew Luck

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck decides to enter the 2011 draft, the Carolina Panthers will take him, two high-ranking team officials said Tuesday.

A redshirt sophomore, Luck finished his season in Monday night's Discover Orange Bowl and has until Jan. 15 to declare if he will enter the draft. Although there have been reports indicating Luck may choose to stay in college, the Panthers remain optimistic he will turn pro.

Luck is viewed as the top prospect in the country by most draft analysts and the Panthers don't disagree with that assessment. The team officials said they wouldn't even consider trading down in the draft if Luck is available.

Luck deflected questions on his future after Stanford's victory Monday night.

"I think there are a lot of worse decisions you might have to make in life," Luck said. "I don't mean to be rude, but I'd rather not address that subject anymore."

There has been some speculation that Luck and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh could be a package deal. But in a news conference Tuesday to discuss the coaching search, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson said the team has not had any contact with Harbaugh. The team officials said they don't expect that to change.

The Panthers already have requested permission to interview San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Although the team officials said they won't rule out candidates from the college ranks, they said the hire likely will be an NFL coordinator.

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFC South for ESPN.com.