The Arizona Cardinals have a rare opportunity that a lot of teams drafting in the first round rarely have: drafting a quarterback to sit and watch.
It’s a chance they may not have again.
As Carson Palmer continues towards an inevitable retirement that is happening much sooner rather than later, the time is now to spend a first round pick on a position that will be vacant soon.
Two names that pop up on the endless parade of mock drafts is DeShaun Watson from Clemson and Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. Both sold quarterbacks and two who would benefit with a season or two learning at the next level.
Fact is, seldom do such opportunities present themselves as they may be in Arizona. Palmer will play until he says he can’t or his body says it won’t. The Cardinals know either scenario is approaching quickly. Drafting a quarterback when quality is available at that position where Arizona is to select is better than smart option: it’s a no brainer.
Top 10 Wide Receivers of 2016: Taking a look at which wideouts were among last year’s best
2017 NFL Draft: What it’s like to be the dad of an NFL hopeful
2017 Free Agency:: Why aren’t teams signing veteran quarterbacks
Cardinals Notes: Bethel takes pay cut, Cards sign kicker
Watson, the starter on a National Championship Clemson team, is a remarkably smart choice here. He’s won at a top tier conference in the ACC. He’s competed on the biggest stage and won the biggest games. While I won’t compare the pressure of winning at Clemson or the ACC with winning in the NFC West or the NFL on the whole, the atmosphere won’t be consuming for him.
As for Mahomes, he’s got a big arm and is a big QB. He’s run a spread offense, and no one will be fooled that the transition when working out of that system hasn’t been a difficult transition to Sunday’s, as Jared Goff has shown the Rams. But again, the Cardinals have the benefit of time. And Mahomes has enough upside that if Watson isn’t available, Mahomes will be.
The Arizona Cardinals are drafting for a future that is coming faster than they’d like: especially at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. Taking a QB at the 13th pick makes sense now, more than ever.