Keim: Multiple factors will determine if Cardinals draft QB of future
TEMPE, Ariz. — A reporter asked Cardinals general manager Steve Keim on Wednesday if he ponders his past draft decisions, particularly not drafting a quarterback before the fourth round.
“Constantly,” he said at a pre-draft press conference at the team’s headquarters. “I think about the things that I’ve done wrong more so than about the things that have gone well. To me, when you’re a competitor, that’s how you grow and get better in this business is to be critical of yourself.”
Introspection aside, Keim stopped short of announcing the Cardinals would select their quarterback of the future on Day 1 or Day 2 of the NFL Draft, April 26 and April 27 in Arlington, Texas. He also cautioned against the notion of trading up to land that player.
“I think the biggest issue comes with the supply and demand at the position,” he said. “Where is the franchise quarterback going to be available? If you’re willing to trade, what’s the compensation for it?
“Are you willing to put the franchise in a position to be set back for years if you’re not right? It can be crippling for us if we traded the next couple drafts to go get a player that’s never taken a snap and doesn’t have success.”
Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen are considered quarterbacks with first-round potential.
Keim confirmed that Mayfield visited the Cardinals on Wednesday under the eyes of the scouts, coordinators, coach Steve Wilks and Keim, but he offered little insight into the visit, other than to say he likes Mayfield’s “competitiveness, passion.”
Based on multiple mock drafts, all five of the aforementioned quarterbacks could be gone when the Cardinals select at No. 15. If that’s the case and the Cardinals do not move up, they could fall back on their best-player-available mantra and gamble that Sam Bradford can stay healthy enough to become another savvy veteran acquisition in the Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer mode.
“The last time around, we traded basically a ham sandwich, as one writer said, and it worked out pretty good,” Keim said of Palmer. “In the past years that I’ve been the general manager, we’ve been aggressive in a lot of different areas and have tried to trade up, and you have to find the partner. That’s the problem. Teams aren’t always willing to trade. So, when people talk about, ‘Just trade back,’ or, ‘Trade up,’ it’s not as easy as you think on draft day.”
“No. 1, to trade up, you have to find a partner. No. 2, what player’s on the board when that team is willing to trade? If it’s a dynamic player at that position that is a game-changer, they’re not going to take anything short of the mortgage for the house, the farm and everything to come up.”
While Keim seemed to imply that drafting just one quarterback (fourth-round pick Logan Thomas in 2014) in his previous five drafts was a mistake, he highlighted a litany of factors that stopped him from selecting another one.
“It can be where you had him ranked on your board,” he said. “Maybe the compensation scared you to go get a player, in terms of draft picks. A lot of different things that, again, I use moving forward, really, as a chip on my shoulder to challenge myself how I can get better.
“It’s an inexact science, and really at the end of the day, you can throw the trade chart off your desk because you have to be willing to be able to give up what you’re comfortable with.”