Cardinals GM Keim: QB Paxton Lynch was in the conversation

May 3, 2016, 5:46 PM | Updated: May 4, 2016, 1:07 pm
Denver Broncos first-round selection in the NFL football draft, quarterback Paxton Lynch from Memph...
Denver Broncos first-round selection in the NFL football draft, quarterback Paxton Lynch from Memphis, is introduced Friday, April 29, 2016, in the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

One of the bigger story lines in last weekend’s NFL Draft, at least for Arizona Cardinals fans, was if the team would choose a quarterback.

The thought process was that while starter Carson Palmer is still playing at a high level, his advanced age (36 years old) necessitates the team at some point soon finding a young replacement, better known as a quarterback of the future.

The problem in finding that guy in the draft, of course, was that the Cardinals were picking 29th in the first round and the elite passers — Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz — were long gone before Arizona was on the clock.

That was expected, though. When discussing the Cardinals and their possible pursuit of a passer, most analysts figured the guy Arizona would target was Memphis’ Paxton Lynch.

Thought of as incredibly talented, the 6-foot-7 player with good mobility seemed like he could be a good fit for Bruce Arians’ offense, and a wonderful prospect to groom while Palmer finishes out his impressive career.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know if the Cardinals would have drafted Lynch 29th overall because the Denver Broncos traded up to pick No. 26 and snagged him.

However, it turns out we do know the Cardinals at least had significant interest in the 22-year-old who last season completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,776 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions.

“We have a process where we stack our players one through 120 on how they would come off the board for us,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim told Colin Cowherd on the Colin Cowherd Show on FOX Sports 1. “Some of it’s based on need; most of it’s based on best player available because I’ve always had the philosophy your needs in April and May are always much different than they are in October because of injuries, suspensions, whatever it may be. Needs are always changing but you can never have enough good players.

“But Paxton Lynch was certainly in the conversation. Now, whether he made it to us or not, that’s a different discussion. But he’s certainly a guy in this draft that we looked at and determined was potentially a franchise quarterback. And because of Carson’s age, where we are with Drew Stanton — there’s no question that, for the future, at some point we need to find a young quarterback to be our guy.”

Though they did not draft a QB, the Cardinals did add a rookie passer to the roster with the signing of undrafted free agent Jake Coker. The former Alabama QB has good size, and Arians spoke highly of what the National Champion brings to the table ahead of this weekend’s rookie mini-camp.

“He won the games throwing the football in critical downs, and watching him grow — really can’t wait to get our hands on him this weekend and watch him grow with us,” he said. “He’s got the size, he’s got the skill; he’s got a lot of moxie about him.

“So yeah, I’m very anxious to get him here.”

Including Coker, the Cardinals’ QB depth chart has Palmer as the starter and Stanton as the backup. Matt Barkley is the incumbent third-string option, but his roster spot is not guaranteed.

With that, the good news is the Cardinals — who see themselves as Super Bowl contenders — have an elite starter as well as a very capable backup. But as Keim said, a surefire option for the future is not on the roster, and that is an issue they would like to rectify in the near future.

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Cardinals GM Keim: QB Paxton Lynch was in the conversation