What matters come draft day is hard to quantify for each individual team, but for the Arizona Cardinals, this year it is especially hard.
They were not just on the doorstep, but had one foot inside when it came to the NFC playoffs in 2013, and if they were able to get in, you could make an argument they were the one team no one wanted to play.
For that reason, to many, the Cardinals must find an “impact player” with the 20th pick.
They have to come away from the 2014 NFL Draft with a player who will see the field, but also bring an element to the 2014 Cardinals that the 2013 team didn’t have.
The problem becomes this: If you’re looking for immediate impact, are you overlooking the best talent on the board?
The Cardinals don’t have a huge need right now at cornerback, but if the best player on their board at 20 is Kyle Fuller, Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert, do you pass for an edge rusher like Dee Ford?
The same question can be asked about players like Ra’Shede Hageman and Aaron Donald on the defensive line or C.J. Mosley from an inside linebacker perspective, instead taking a guy like Kony Ealy.
Then there is the real question: Are the Cardinals in a good enough position right now to take a quarterback if one falls?
The hot rumor around the league is that Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel may be available when the Cardinals step up to the podium on May 8, and for many Cardinals fans, that pit in your stomach begins to turn.
You harken back to the Cards passing on Aaron Rodgers because they needed a cornerback in 2005, just to realize they “needed” Matt Leinart in 2006.
We all remember how the 2004 NFL Draft turned out, and really could you ask for more than Larry Fitzgerald?
Of course Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were both taken after Fitzgerald and are still their teams’ franchise QBs while the Cardinals have employed 12 different quarterbacks to get Fitzgerald the ball in that time.
Is it time for the Cardinals to pull the trigger on a QB if they get the chance?
Whether or not the Cardinals are in the right position to draft a quarterback and allow him to sit for a year and learn can be debated. But the reality is the Cardinals, at some point soon, need to find that quarterback of the future.
Could that be Bridgewater, Manziel, Blake Bortles or another player at 20?
If not, there’s always next year, right?