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SI’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft has Cardinals taking QB at No. 19

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk passes during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Arizona Cardinals are likely nearing a point of transition in their franchise’s history.

Two staples of the team — quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald — are far closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. So when general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians approach the draft in 2018, a signal-caller could be at the top of the wish list.

That’s why Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke has the Cardinals taking Washington State QB Luke Falk with the No. 19 pick next year.

The Cardinals’ recent draft history certainly points toward someone like freakish Kansas edge defender Dorance Armstrong. At some point in the very near future, though, they have to replace Carson Palmer. Falk is 6′ 4″, experienced and sees the field well. The big hurdle here might be convincing Arizona coach Bruce Arians to invest in a QB out of the Air Raid system.

Falk is going into his senior season at Washington State after having passed for 4,468 yards in 2016 and completing 70 percent of his passes. Since 2014, Falk has played 30 games with a career completion percentage of 68.8. He also threw for 4,561 yards in 2015, his sophomore season.

In three seasons, Falk has thrown 89 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

While impressive, Falk hasn’t drawn quite as much attention as his fellow Pac-12 quarterbacks Sam Darnold (USC) or Josh Rosen (UCLA). But he’s played tremendously in college, which could warrant him going in the middle of the first round to a team that needs a new QB.

Depending on how the Cardinals do this year, Falk could be within reach.

Some outside observers postulated that the Cardinals might shoot for a new quarterback in the 2017 draft, but Arizona ultimately went with linebacker Haason Reddick from Temple. That may have been their target all along with the No. 13 choice, or maybe they would’ve gone with someone like Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky if those arms hadn’t already gone off the board.

A year later, drafting a QB seems that much more pressing.

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