Until the Arizona Cardinals find a quarterback, the Arizona Cardinals will be looking for a quarterback.
Blame Kurt Warner.
The team has been struggling to replace Warner since he retired following the 2009 season, meaning the team is spending yet another offseason looking for an answer at the position.
Warner, who was a guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Friday, says he believes there may be some young signal callers in the league who have not yet had a chance to start that may be worth a look.
“Most of those guys are scrutinized, and if you can play,” he said. “Because this league is so deprived of quarterbacks and good quality quarterback play that guys are getting scooped up as soon as they become free agents.”
Warner pointed to Matt Flynn, who was signed by Seattle last season, and Kevin Kolb, who the Cardinals traded for two years ago, as players who were picked up based on potential after spending a few seasons as a backup somewhere.
“I’m not sure there’s one of those guys yet,” he said. “There’s some young guys that may be able to get a chance here in the next couple of years that could prove to be something.”
Warner then brought up an interesting name: Ryan Mallett.
Saying Mallett was regarded as one of the most talented quarterbacks in his draft class, Warner added, “he may be a guy that could have that upside.”
Mallett was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2011, and the 24-year-old only fell in the draft because of character concerns. Those have since been dispelled, at least to a point, leading some to believe the 6-foot-6, 245 pound player who has studied behind Tom Brady for two years may be ready to lead his own team.
But Warner acknowledged any team — Cardinals or otherwise — would be taking a chance on someone like that, and as Arizona has seen first-hand, sometimes you get burned.
But if the Cardinals are looking for a new option at the position, their choices are either that, free agency or the NFL Draft. And since rarely does a top-flight passer become available on the free agent market, that would point towards the team filling its need with a selection next April.
“A lot of upside with a lot of these guys,” Warner said of this year’s draft class. “There’s some big, strong talented guys that can make all the throws.”
Warner pointed to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith as someone who has put up some gaudy numbers, but added part of the problem with this year’s group is the film isn’t always as kind as the statistics.
“You might get seven, eight games that are really impressive, and then you might have four or five more that you go ‘wow, is that the same guy,'” he said. “And so that’s the hard thing, and I think that’s the hard thing always about a quarterback, is that you don’t know, from a consistency-standpoint, what you’re going to get when they get to the NFL level.”
Which is part of the reason why Warner has a difficult time finding one passer who clearly stands out above the rest.
“There’s five or six guys that could go and any one of those could be the best pro of the bunch,” he said. “I can’t handicap it, and I don’t think we have figured out a science to handicap the quarterback position.
“We’re going to have to wait and see them get behind center and then we’ll have to evaluate from there.”