For Cardinals, finding a QB of the future is a ‘double-edged sword’

Mar 1, 2017, 10:27 AM | Updated: 2:33 pm
Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II looks to pass against Arizona State during the first half of an NCA...
Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes II looks to pass against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Until the Cardinals find their next franchise quarterback, the conversation and questions about finding one will persist.

Veteran Carson Palmer is coming back for the 2017 season, but anything beyond that for the 37-year-old is anyone’s guess, and it’s possible the Cardinals will find his successor this offseason.

That was one of head coach Bruce Arians’ stated goals the day after the 2016 season ended, and to some extent nothing has changed.

The difficulty is, as Arians noted, balancing the need to look toward the future while trying to make the present as successful as possible.

Calling it a “double-edged sword,” the coach acknowledged the type of quarterback he would seek varies based on situation.

“Part of it’s what’s on your roster, do you need a guy right away?” he said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday. “If I need a guy right away, I’d be looking for a certain type of player that might come out of a different system that is more NFL-ready.

“But he’s still got to have the arm strength and the talent to play the game. He has to have the physical stature to play the position.”

Arians noted he also looks to make sure a prospective pick has the right mental approach and heart, the latter of which he said is easy to figure out.

In terms of what the Cardinals might be able to find in this year’s draft, Arians said he sees five to six “really good arms,” adding his job is now to see if they have everything else he is looking for. He is less concerned with how they fare at the Combine than he is with how they look on game tape, “but if they throw really well, that’s a blessing.”

The Cardinals hold the 13th overall selection in this year’s draft, which could put them in a good spot to land one of the class’ better passers. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer has been the QB most commonly linked to them, though Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky are all likely to be taken early in the process.

To be fair, Arians has said similar things in each of the last few drafts, yet the only time the Cardinals selected a quarterback was in 2014, when they tabbed Logan Thomas in the fourth round.

Thomas made it through his rookie season but was cut at the end of the following training camp.

Looking at the Cardinals now, one could argue there is not a glaring need for a quarterback given that Palmer is coming back, but as GM Steve Keim noted, that fact may be the reason to grab a rookie.

“Really, to me, there’s no better time to take a young quarterback when you have a guy like Carson who can help develop him,” Keim said in Indianapolis. “He and I had dinner about a few weeks ago, the night before he announced he was coming back, and at dinner Carson told me that all the coaching things are great, but some of the best things to develop a young quarterback are a veteran quarterback.”

Keim said Palmer learned a lot from Jon Kitna, who was with the Bengals when Palmer was chosen first overall by Cincinnati in the 2003 Draft.

“Maybe it wasn’t technical things — it was maybe how to prepare off the field, it was how to study film,” Keim added. “And to me, Carson would be a great role model for a young quarterback.”

Even if the time would seem right, Keim acknowledged the fit might not be. He understands the pressure there is to find an heir for the 2015 Pro Bowler at the position, which the GM said drives the league, but presented the caveat that a miss early in the draft could prove problematic.

“You can’t force the pick; you’ve got to really like what you see on tape, off the field,” he said. “Because if you take a quarterback high and he doesn’t pan out, it’s going to set you back for years because you have to give him time to develop, you have to give him a chance.

“If you miss, and you miss high, it’s going to cost you.”

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For Cardinals, finding a QB of the future is a ‘double-edged sword’