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Arizona Cardinals

Updated May 4, 2012 - 2:04 pm

ESPN analyst: Ryan Lindley will be an NFL starter in four years

As the saying goes, the backup quarterback is the most popular player in the NFL. If true, what does that say about the backup's backup?

Ryan Lindley, whom the Cardinals selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, is seeing his stock rise without having thrown an NFL pass.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King said he thinks Lindley will play by midseason, and while he wouldn't go that far, ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski feels like Lindley will ultimately be an NFL starter.

"I looked at a bunch of his tapes," Jaws told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo. "Now, I can put a highlight reel together and show you 25 throws that you would say this guy should be a first-round pick.

"Unfortunately, I could show you 25 throws where you say he shouldn't be drafted at all."

And that's just it with the 6-foot-4, 229 pound passer: He's got all the tools to be a real good QB, but is not yet a real good QB.

"You could see he could make throws; he didn't make them consistent enough."

Lindley finished his career at San Diego State with 90 touchdown passes against 47 interceptions, struggling with accuracy as well as the personnel around him. He completed just 53 percent of his passes in 2011, a key reason for his slide in the draft.

Which is where the Cardinals come in.

Lindley won't be expected to do anything right away, as the team already has Kevin Kolb and John Skelton ahead of him on the depth chart. And, he'll stay that way, at least for a while.

"So you get in a good situation where you can stand back there and learn," Jaworski said. "Throw 36,000 balls a year at practice and training camp and the regular season, run the scout team.

"All of a sudden the guy gets better, because he's got a big-time arm. And I love strong arms."

So do the Cardinals - except when they are attached to a guy like Derek Anderson, who like Lindley, also struggled with accuracy.

Assuming Lindley takes his job seriously…nah, we won't go there, but Lindley is coming to town with zero expectations or pressure, giving him a chance to be brought along slowly. The Cardinals shouldn't need much of anything from him this season, and as long as he progresses like Jaworski thinks he will, the team will have something on their hands a few seasons down the road.

"I think in four years he'll be a starting quarterback," he said.

In Arizona? Maybe, maybe not. Jaworski said he is also high on Kolb and Skelton, so the Cardinals have a good thing going at the most important position in sports.

"You can't have enough good quarterbacks on your football team, and you create value at that position even if somewhere down the road you have to move one or two of them."


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