Top 5 Mostly likely scenarios in which the Cardinals will draft a QB in the 2014 NFL Draft
With the NFL Draft only 28 days away (is anybody in favor of them moving back the draft even more?), and a large swirl of rumors about which teams are eyeing which prospects and what highly touted quarterbacks will end up where, I thought. I would breakdown the five mostly likely scenarios in which the Cardinals end up taking a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. This is isn’t a list of how I believe the Cardinals rate the quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, but rather my analysis of the potential situations that could arise which would lend itself to the Cardinals drafting a quarterback.
Scenario Number 5: The Cardinals select University of Pittsburgh Quarterback Tom Savage in the 6th round.
Savage is your classic big-armed quarterback with a prototypical NFL quarterback frame at 6’4″ and 230 lbs. He is also a very inexperienced quarterback with a few big questions marks which is why he is projected anywhere from the 5th to the 7th round of the draft. Savage was a journeyman and transfer from Rutgers and the University of Arizona before finally ending up as a Pittsburgh Panther and starting all 13 games in the 2013 season. In his one year as a starter Savage totaled 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions.
Savage possesses a very strong arm and a nice throwing motion, but tends to lack the touch and accuracy on some shorter throws and needs to improve on looking off defensive backs and not staring down his target. Bruce Arians may be intrigued by Savage and his big arm, which is why I have this listed as a potential scenario, but I still don’t anticipate the Cardinals spending a pick on Savage.
Scenario Number 4: The Cardinals select Blake Bortles with the 20th pick of the NFL Draft
Based on what Bruce Arians typically looks for and values in a quarterback for his vertical passing attack, Bortles definitely appears to be the quarterback out of the top tier of QB prospects including Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr, that Arians and GM Steve Keim would value most in this year’s draft. Bortles possesses ideal NFL size at 6’5″ 232 lbs along with good athleticism and an ability to sense pressure and get out of the pocket. He can make every throw, has good leadership qualities and a high IQ, and many analysts believe he is just scratching the service of his potential.
Bortles by no means has the strongest arm, most athleticism or best technique in the draft but he may be the mostly highly rated QB and is projected by many to be taken with the 1st pick of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. I think the Cardinals would strongly consider him if he fell to 20, but that is very unlikely and the reason why I have the Cardinals selecting him as the fourth most likely scenario on this list.
Scenario Number 3: The Cardinals taking Logan Thomas in the 5th Round
Logan Thomas has an extremely impressive frame at 6’6″ and 248 lbs, and complements that frame with good scrambling ability (he ran for 1,359 yards in his college career) and elite arm strength. According to George Whitfield, quarterback guru who has worked with virtually every big name collegiate quarterback in recent years including Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater to name a few, has said that Logan Thomas has the most throwing power of any QB he has ever seen.
Sounds like a can’t miss, once in a lifetime QB prospect right? Well Logan Thomas hasn’t seemed to utilize all of this natural ability on the field and seemed to regress during his time at Virginia Tech. Thomas has a long way to go to improve his accuracy, touch, technique and footwork, and decision making. His passion for the game has been questioned as well. Thomas finished with 2,907 yards passing, 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2013. He is without question a project and a risk, but his his vast potential (he was once considered to be as a possibility for the first pick of the Draft) and potential to excel in Arians vertical passing offense means he could be a realistic option for the Cardinals in the mid to late rounds and learn behind Carson Palmer for a few years. The Cardinals have worked him out in the past week as well.
Scenario Number 2: The Cardinals select A.J. McCarron in the 3rd Round
A.J. McCarron is a winner on the football field and in life (see: Katherine Webb) as he went 36-4 as a starter in 4 seasons at the University of Alabama including three national championships. He also reportedly didn’t ever lose a game as a quarterback in high school either.
At 6’3″ and 220 lbs, McCarron has adequate NFL size at the quarterback position to complement his great leadership, good and quick decision making and a high football IQ. The knocks on McCarron though are his average NFL arm strength and velocity, as well as his average to below average athleticism and slight durability concerns. Arians likes winners though and may be fond enough of McCarron’s intangibles and ability to take a chance on him in the third or fourth round. According to an SB Nation report, the Cardinals “Like” McCarron and think he “makes sense” as a 2nd round pick. Remember to take anything you hear with a grain of salt this time of year as anywhere from 80-90% of it may be pure crap and smoke screens by teams to drive up the value of a player to divert attention away from someone they are really interested in, regardless this seems scenario seems to have a decent level of likelihood.
Scenario Number 1: The Cardinals select Zach Mettenberger in the 2nd round
Mettenberger has been the guy the Cardinals have been most closely aligned with out of this year’s QB crop since the end of the college football season. There are numerous reports of the Cardinals interest in the 6’5″ 230 pound prospect out of LSU.
He has the tall, strong frame and seems to possess the exact skill set that Bruce Arians desires for his vertical passing attack. He has a rocket arm and the ability to make any throw with velocity, along with good downfield vision. He also vastly improved in 2013 as he threw for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and only eight interceptions in 2013 before tearing his ACL in the final game of the regular season against rival Arkansas.
The concerns with Mettenberger include the obvious concern of a player coming off of a torn ACL, his lack of mobility and ability to sense pressure and read blitzes. He also like many QB’s can lock in on a receiver. Mettenberger has a very character concerns from questionable actions in his past as well as he was arrested for alcohol consumption and sexual battery in 2010, and has a history of “recreational” drug use. It appears he has matured greatly in recent years though.
Although there are some legitimate concerns, Mettenberger’s skill set and the Cardinals obvious interest are the reason why drafting him in the second round is the most likely scenario of them drafting a quarterback for the future in the 2014 NFL Draft.