What’s that old saying? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I think that’s it. That is truly the motto that the Arizona Cardinals should take when it comes to the 2011 draft.
Sure, drafting Matt Leinart 10th overall in 2006 didn’t work out. He didn’t become the franchise quarterback that they expected him to become after they paid him roughly $18 million dollars and before releasing him this season. Nonetheless, that is no reason not to draft a quarterback high in this upcoming draft.
After the debacle that was Anderson-Hall-Skelton this year, it is imperative that Arizona brings in a franchise quarterback and develops him. They can go the free agency, stop-gap route, but that rarely ever works.
Outside of Drew Brees and Kurt Warner most free agent quarterbacks end up being a waste of time and money. For one, NFL teams are smart enough to know when they have a good quarterback and wise enough to keep them. Especially in this day and age when there aren’t that many good quarterbacks in the league. If a team has a good one they usually keep him. So just remember there is a reason a quarterback is a free agent – his previous team didn’t’ want him.
Let’s take a look at recent Cardinals free agent quarterbacks – Derek Anderson, Shaun King, Jeff Blake, Dave Brown, Kent Graham, Boomer Esiason, and Dave Krieg. What do all of these quarterbacks have in common from their time in Arizona?
They all sucked. The only one that worked was Warner. The Cardinals caught lightning in a bottle with him because everyone and their mother thought he was finished after some miserable performances with the New York Giants.
This year there is the possibility of trading for a quarterback such as Vince Young, Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, and Donovan McNabb. Clearly this is a much better option than free agency, but it still comes with some reservations.
Young is a troubled player. Kolb is young, inexperienced, and the jury is still out on him. Orton is a good quarterback but not a great one and McNabb will be on his third team in three years and appears finished.
The best and most proven way to get a quarterback is in the draft. Three of the four teams remaining in the playoffs got their quarterback by drafting him in the first round and developing him. The Jets with Mark Sanchez, the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger and the Packers with Aaron Rodgers. Chicago traded for their quarterback Jay Cutler.
Take it a step further and look at the teams that were knocked out last week. New England drafted Tom Brady, Atlanta drafted Matt Ryan in the first round, same goes for Baltimore with Joe Flacco and Hasselback was traded to Seattle. See any free agent quarterbacks on these lists?
The best young quarterbacks in the game today were all drafted first round – Sam Bradford, Flacco, Ryan, Sanchez, Josh Freeman and Matthew Stafford. Some of the old guard not mentioned previously were also drafted in the first round – Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning.
The moral of the story is that the Cardinals need to fix the quarterback position first and foremost. With the fifth pick in the first and second rounds they better think long and hard about drafting a signal caller. While I am in favor of finding a way to get Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, there is also Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker to be had.
So memo to Arizona, bypass free agency and trading for a quarterback and do it the old fashioned way – draft one!