The NFC West division in the NFL is quickly becoming one of the toughest in all of football. In order to keep up with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the coming seasons, the Arizona Cardinals will need to draft an impact player when they select 20th overall.
The Cardinals finished the 2013 season with a solid 10-6 record but still missed the playoffs due to the competitiveness of their division. Arizona ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense, so offense should be their draft focus.
The Cardinals’ current starting quarterback is veteran Carson Palmer. At 34 years old, Palmer likely does not have many years left as an efficient starting quarterback in the NFL. While the Cardinals may have other needs to address, drafting a quarterback in the first round would not be the worst decision.
Former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr would be a perfect fit in Arizona. While top-rated quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater likely will not be available at 20th overall, there is a good chance that Carr will be.
Carr is intelligent, fundamentally sound and has the ability to make all the throws necessary to have success in the NFL. He will need to improve on his footwork, but this is one of the most coachable flaws that a quarterback prospect can have.
Many prospects struggle to find success in the NFL as a result of being thrust into a starting position. However, the presence of Palmer would not require Carr to be a Week 1 starter in 2014. This would allow Carr to develop his skills and learn the Cardinals’ offense at a steady pace rather than at an expedited one.
Carr would also benefit from the experience and talent on the Cardinals’ current roster. Palmer would be an excellent mentor, as he is a smart player who has experienced both success and failure in the NFL. He also would have the advantage of throwing to two talented wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
While Carr may be a stretch at pick No. 20, drafting a talented quarterback to replace an aging Palmer would not represent a worst-case scenario for the Cardinals.