Bruce Arians offers insight on finding Cardinals’ QB of future
PHOENIX — What would the ideal Cardinals quarterback of the future look like? Coach Bruce Arians offered his take on the final day of the NFL Annual Meetings on Wednesday at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
“You take Ben (Roethlisberger), Andrew (Luck), Peyton (Manning), and I’m gonna throw Tim Couch in there, too,” Arians said. “You roll them all up and make one, and you’ve got a hell of a player, but it really starts here and here (pointing to his head and heart). If you’ve got a guy that’s got grit and he can lead, you can probably live with his skill level. Now if he’s got the skill level and those two things, you’ve got the world champ.”
The total package may be hard to find, but Arians believes there is talent in this year’s QB draft class.
“So far, I would say one of the guys — I’m not going to mention names — I think one of them is probably ready to start as a rookie,” Arians said. “All the rest, there are some really talented arms that need a year of learning how to play the position, especially at this level. If you’re plug-and-play then this draft is very small, but if you have time to bring them along then this draft is large because the talent level is there.”
Arians wasn’t tipping his hand on the Cardinals’ plans for the NFL Draft from April 27 to 29 in Philadelphia where they have the 13th, 45th, 77th and 120th overall picks in the first four rounds. Then again, Arians can’t tip his hand because the plan will evolve with what happens on the draft floor.
“Every year you would like to draft a quarterback,” he said. “We’ve had two with the name on the card ready to roll, and they’ve gone like a pick or three picks ahead of us the last two years.
“You’ve got them set on your board where you’d like to take that quarterback and if he falls to you, take him, but don’t reach. If you’ve got one in the fourth round, don’t take him in the third round, cause now you’re screwing up your board, and you’re probably putting him in a position he doesn’t belong.”
Arians offered some insight on the qualities that quarterback should possess.
“First of all, you have to have some stature,” he said. “There are no 5-11 quarterbacks; haven’t been any since Doug Flutie and it took him a hell of a long time to get in. The game has changed since Fran Tarkenton played.
“You have to have some stature, you have to have some arm strength. It doesn’t have to be a cannon. Most guys with a cannon wait to see a guy get open and then they throw a fastball. Those get intercepted the other way. You have to have some anticipation so if your arm isn’t quite as strong and you anticipate better you’ll get it out on time.”
Arians also cited the importance of deciphering information quickly.
“What’s my protection? Am I hot? Do I have a sight adjustment, weak side? What’s the coverage? Who do I throw to in this coverage? That all happens in 1.5 seconds so if you can’t process that information you probably can’t play. You either can process information — you either have that brain ability or you don’t have it,” Arians said. “That’s the hardest thing to evaluate.”
Arians does not believe the Cardinals need to draft a QB this year because he thinks Carson Palmer can keep playing, but if the Cardinals do draft a quarterback, Arians thinks that player will come into an ideal situation because of all the mentors the team has. Aside from Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore and quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, the presence of Palmer and veteran backup Drew Stanton could provide a wealth of knowledge.
“It would probably be one of the best situations for any of these kids to fall into because Carson is going to welcome him openly, and then Drew Stanton, you’ve got two guys who are mentors,” Arians said. “They’re going to listen to them probably more than they will listen to us.”
There has been some speculation that Arians, 64, might retire rather than oversee another QB development, but Arians, like Palmer, said he welcome the chance to mentor another quarterback.
“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the 40-some years I’ve been coaching,” he said. “Probably the most excited I got was when I was re-fired [in Pittsburgh] to go back and work with Andrew [Luck in Indianapolis]. That really rejuvenated me and gave me a whole new perspective on the game again.”