The day after the Arizona Cardinals’ 2016 season came to a close in Los Angeles, head coach Bruce Arians was asked if he feels an obligation to find an heir to QB Carson Palmer.
“I hope to,” he said. “That will be one of our main objectives in the offseason is to make sure the franchise isn’t in the situation it was after Kurt (Warner), that the next guy is here and ready to roll.”
The situation Arians was referring to was when, after Warner retired in January 2010, the team went through seven different quarterbacks over three seasons before finally landing Palmer via a trade in 2013.
Finding a young quarterback is easier said than done, however, and while it’s possible the Cardinals could acquire a more experienced passer to take over when the time comes (a la Palmer himself), it’s not often teams are able to land Pro Bowl-caliber passers via free agency or trade.
With that in mind, it seems somewhat likely the Cardinals will turn to the NFL Draft to find their next quarterback, and with the 13th overall selection in this year’s draft, they could be in a good spot to get their guy.
But of all the draft eligible passers, which would be the best fit for Arians and the Cardinals?
According to NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is the guy.
Although Kizer is a tough, mobile quarterback, he’s primarily a strong-armed pocket passer much like the Cardinals’ QB1 Carson Palmer. Arizona is expecting Palmer, 37, to return for another season, but it’s a fine time to groom his eventual replacement. With receivers J.J. Nelson and John Brown able to take the top off of a defense, it’s crucial for Bruce Arians to find a young quarterback who can stretch the field. Kizer’s smooth running ability is a threat to defenses, as well, but he can also move within the pocket to buy time to find Nelson or Brown or dump the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.
Kizer is widely regarded as one of the draft’s best quarterback prospects, but is seen as a bit of a risk. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound player has excellent size for the position and a good arm, but started just two seasons for the Fighting Irish and in them threw for 47 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. In 2016, as a junior, he completed just 58.7 percent of his passes and was even benched for some stretches.
That said, Kizer may be a bit raw but offers a tantalizing blend of potential and production, and with the right coaching could eventually turn out to be an excellent NFL QB.
Knowing that, can the Cardinals, who are hoping to get back to the playoffs in 2017, afford to spend their first-round pick on Kizer? If so, will he even be there for him?
Those are the questions that will have to be answered in late April. Until then, speculation will run rampant for a franchise that seems set at the QB position now but has little in the way of options for the long-term future.
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