ARIZONA CARDINALS

SI’s 2018 NFL mock draft has Cardinals picking Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

May 3, 2017, 5:47 PM
Louisville's Lamar Jackson poses with the Heisman Trophy after winning the award, in New York. Edit...
Louisville's Lamar Jackson poses with the Heisman Trophy after winning the award, in New York. Editors and broadcasters voted Jackson's successful season as one of the top stories in Kentucky in 2016. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said there’s no reason to panic that Arizona does not have its quarterback successor to Carson Palmer.

And it’s true: If Palmer retires after this season, the Cardinals have next year’s draft to settle concerns, not to mention the current backup options, Drew Stanton and Zac Dysert, who could bide time for a young starting quarterback to develop.

Looking to the future, there are promising signal-callers expected to be available in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke is already mocking it out and projects the Cardinals to take Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.

Not sure there is a more entertaining prospective pairing among the 32 picks here than this one, which places the electrifying Jackson under Bruce Arians’s tutelage. How much progress Jackson shows as a passer this season will dictate how high he can climb as a draft prospect.

How did Burke reach his prediction?

He mapped out the order of picks by using each team’s Bovada’s Super Bowl odds for this upcoming season. That meant Arizona is drafting 18th overall in the mock.

Considering Jackson’s sophomore campaign that also saw him win the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and become a unanimous All-American, it might be overly-optimistic he could still be available midway through the first round. There’s also the chance he decides to return to school.

Jackson would certainly improve his stock if he improved upon his 3,543 passing yards, 1,571 rushing yards (21 rushing TDs), and 30 touchdowns to nine interceptions last season.

Still, for the Cardinals’ purposes, the early mock drafts provide relief that there is considerable quarterback talent in the 2018 draft.

Jackson is the fourth quarterback off the board in Burke’s mock draft, after UCLA’s Josh Rosen (taken 1st), USC’s Sam Darnold (2nd) and Wyoming’s Josh Allen (6th). Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph (20th) is also a first-round pick, according to Burke.

That doesn’t stray far from Will Brinson’s too-early mock draft at CBS Sports, where Brinson had Arizona selecting Washington State quarterback Luke Falk with the 20th overall pick.

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