Series: A look at the other three teams in the most wide open division in football.
What a difference a year makes. A year ago at this time, the Rams were the team no one wanted to be. A team in chaos, who was coming off a 6-42 span that saw the epic collapse of what once stood as an offensive haven. When the first round ended, the Rams had addressed their biggest question -- quarterback. Fast forward a season and the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks now have that unsettling, uncomfortable feeling at quarterback. Will the other teams follow the Rams’ approach and try to answer their quarterback question in round one or could they go after a guy that is going to sack Sam Bradford? Here’s a look at the draft options for the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks.
The Cardinals are coming off a very disappointing season. Only minutes away from being the Super Bowl champs the prior season, Arizona saw a sharp decline in offensive production. By the start of the season, Kurt Warner was working on his color commentary and long-time productive receiver Anquan Boldin was wearing Baltimore purple. To boot, the team cut the apparent heir and franchise quarterback in the 10th overall pick in 2006, Matt Leinart. Will the Cardinals dare go after another top 10 QB? My thinking is no for a few reasons. First, Ken Whisenhunt does not have enough time to bring along and develop another QB. Second, I’m not sure they risk taking a QB and having a chance for him to bust. Third, this offense needs a NFL-ready leader of their offense. Fitzgerald and Breaston are two legitimate receivers who need someone who can deliver them the ball right now.
My pick for the Arizona Cardinals – Robert Quinn, DE – UNC
Quinn is scary good off the edge. He is arguably the best pass rusher in this year’s draft. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Quinn was, “as good a natural pass rusher as I’ve ever seen.” Assuming that Von Miller is already gone, I think Quinn is the pick. Despite missing his entire senior season for NCAA violations, Robert Quinn is one of the top players in this year’s draft. He possesses great athleticism and speed that will allow him to play OLB in a 3-4. Mel Kiper, who mocked Quinn to a 3-4 defense in Houston at 11, said the following about Quinn: “A gifted natural pass-rusher…A physical specimen, Wade Phillips can find a way to use Quinn in his scheme, and DeMarcus Ware will be what he has in mind when he gets Quinn into camp.” That’s a pretty good comparison.
We look at other options for the Cardinals, after the break.
Patrick Peterson, CB – LSU
I think it goes without saying that at 5, Peterson is the best player available. Some would say he is the best player available when the clock starts for the Panthers at the start of the draft. His size, speed and tremendous play-making ability in both pass coverage and in the return game make him this year’s elite prospect.
Blaine Gabbert, QB – MIZZOU
Could Blaine Gabbert be the next Arizona quarterback St. Louis fans’ secretly root for? Maybe. The talented Mizzou product and St. Louis native is a consideration for this team that has sincere issues at quarterback. He would be coming to a team that has great talent at the wide receiver position and a running back group they have high expectations for.
Why Quinn over Peterson?
The Cardinals are progressively trying to turn themselves into the Pittsburgh Steelers of the West. The head coach and offensive coordinator have ties to the Steelers and now so does their defensive coordinator. Ray Horton is the new defensive coordinator in Arizona after being the defensive backs coach in Pittsburgh last season.
One of the first things Horton spoke of upon his hiring was blitzing and attacking the quarterback. The Steelers have done that over the last couple of years with pressure from OLBs James Harrison and Lamar Woodley. Interesting enough, the Cardinals have two former Steelers, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, currently slotted at outside linebacker. However, both Porter and Haggans are 33 and who knows if they will be able produce the 5 sacks that each put up last season. Further, the Steelers have done well with not the most superb talent at corner, of course having Troy Polamalu helps with that. The Cardinals already have a very good, young, talented corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. What they lack is depth at the position, which is what they could find in rounds 2 – 4.
Why Quinn over Gabbert?
The Cardinals seem primed to be a team that brings in a veteran quarterback to get this offensive back on track. One option that comes to mind is Carson Palmer. The Steeler coaches have seen him often, and know what he is capable of. Palmer could come at a cheap price via trade considering that he’s told the world he’d rather retire than play another down in Cincinnati. Another viable option for them is Kevin Kolb. Kolb is young enough to be the quarterback of the future. He has put together some impressive games in spot starts as a back up in Philly. (Think Texan’s Matt Schuab who, funny enough, once was Mike Vick’s backup). Other options are former division rivals Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger.