The idea that the Cardinals would explore the trade possibility for 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith — as Kent Somers noted yesterday — shouldn’t be a shock (although I will admit I originally wasn’t sure if the Cards would surrender a pick for him). Nor would the idea that the Cardinals could/would/should look at a trade for Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, a speculative concept that picked up steam yesterday after Tom Brady’s extension essentially made Mallett ever playing for the Patriots (barring an injury) unlikely.
The talk reminded me of something general manager Steve Keim recently said when it came to the QB search: “We will exhaust every resource we have.”
That, Keim said, included every draftable quarterback from the first round to the last, free agency and, of course, potential trade options around the league. There is a priority list. Given what is out there in both free agency and the draft (which, right now, doesn’t seem exciting), a trade isn’t a surprise. Besides, if the Cardinals were going to spend a draft pick on a quarterback this year anyway, why not deal one for, say, Smith?
A trade with the Niners seems unlikely, just because San Francisco would seem to have options and conventional wisdom says they’d probably rather not help a division foe. The latest out of San Francisco (via Matt Barrows) is that the Niners would want at least a high fourth-round pick for Smith. If the Chiefs offer one, that’s basically a late third, given their spot at the top of the draft. UPDATE: In the seconds after I posted this, Jay Glazer reported that the trade of Alex Smith to the Chiefs was done and would happen as soon as it could March 12. So there’s one resource off the board.
Mallett, given that the Patriots don’t have another QB right now and comes cheap, is going to cost more, I’d guess. At least a third, where he was drafted in the first place (and I have to wonder what the Cardinals thought of him just a couple of years ago in 2011, when he was available and this team passed on him three different times. Besides, his accuracy is a question despite his big arm and some in New England didn’t think he outplayed Brian Hoyer last preseason even though the Pats dumped Hoyer in favor of Mallett.)
Much will be speculated on right now and there will be a level of truth to most of it, because the Cards are as Keim said exhausting every path trying to fix this problem. No trades can come down until March 12, nor can any free agents be signed. The draft is two months away. If Kevin Kolb doesn’t return, I can see a draft pick and a veteran added. The QB question won’t be answered until it’s answered.
Tags: 49ers, Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, Kevin Kolb, Patriots, quarterbacks, Ryan Mallett, Steve Keim
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While everyone waits for the league year to start — and, at its root, waits for the Cardinals to have a chance to figure out its quarterback situation — the possibilities remain open speculation. Suddenly, it begins to feel very familiar.
In fact, as I read about how NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi felt about Kevin Kolb during a Sports 620 KTAR interview this morning, and how Kolb has generated a range of believers and non-believers when it comes to his abilities and what it could mean to the Cardinals if there indeed was a trade here, it felt very deja vu. Is Kolb the right guy? What’s he worth in a trade? Is what the Eagles want and what the Cards (assuming they’d want Kolb) are willing to give up at least in the same ballpark? Hard to know, given Kolb’s relatively short career and seven NFL starts.
This is about more than Kolb, though. So many questions are flying around about Marc Bulger too, and he’s got a much longer resume. And Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton and even Carson Palmer. I realized it reminded me so much of the ramp-up before a draft when it comes to quarterbacks. Obviously, the veterans have played in the league, but this feels a lot like how Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, etc., were deconstructed over and over. Such as Sam Bradford last year.
It’s the position, of course. It’s the position and the importance it carries and, this offseason, its the days of dead time that allows for possible paralysis by analysis. The trade market for a player like Kolb doesn’t hurt either; unlike the draft, there is someone on the other side of the equation (the Eagles, in this case) hoping Kolb’s value is driven up during all these discussions.
Like the draft, however, it’ll be impossible to know what any of these quarterbacks could really do in a different situation until they get to a new place. Until someone gets here to Arizona. The naysayers could be right about Kolb, for instance. But like the draft, that’s why a team has scouts. They scout veteran players too. You have to assume, whichever player the Cards chase, they believe he will be successful. Why else get him?
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, Marc Bulger, Ryan Mallett, Sam Bradford
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A couple of odds and ends as the draft draws closer and — as we are apt to do this time of year — we all continue to analyze and over-analyze all things draft:
— NFL.com had a blog entry about why pass rushers may be becoming more valuable, noting that NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock has nine defensive ends going in the first round. The reasoning? It’s becoming harder to sack the quarterback in the first place. QBs are getting the ball out quicker than ever before and the pass plays are often designed to make sure pressure is avoiding, not to mention an actual takedown.
“Notice that quarterbacks were sacked 1.7 percent less in 2010 (6.1 percent) than they were in 1982 (7.8 percent),” the post by Elliott Harrison states. “That translates to a difference of about two sacks per 100 dropbacks. Considering we’ve seen how much one sack can alter a season – think of Troy Polamalu’s strip-sack of Joe Flacco last year — that’s a sizable difference. It’s also a factor in why so many teams are looking at defensive ends in the draft.”
OK, so the Cards won’t necessarily be looking at a defensive end. But pass rusher is what we are talking about here.
— Speaking of Mayock, he was on The Chuck and Vince Show Friday on KDUS (1060 AM) and talked about the quarterbacks. He said four quarterbacks — Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Locker – have first-round ability. “The problem is that they all have holes,” Mayock said. “It’s a tough one. It’s the hardest quarterback class I have ever evaluated.”
Asked what he thought the Cardinals should do at No. 5, Mayock was blunt. “If the quarterback Gabbert is there, I think they sprint to the podium. In today’s NFL, if you don’t have one of those franchise guys, you have no shot. Arizona is a model franchise for that (theory). The minute Kurt Warner retires, it’s the same offense and defense, basically, and they can’t play a lick anymore.”
Do I have to mention I don’t think that’s how it goes? But I can tell you, many, many, many people (in the media or making these predictions) believe that’s what will happen.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, draft, Jake Locker, Joe Flacco, Kurt Warner, Mike Mayock, Ryan Mallett, Troy Polamalu
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Yesterday, I had a Twitter follower by the name of Mykael C. Wright ask me to explain the confusing aspect of all this drafting-a-quarterback talk.
“Is game film (20%), pro day (30%), & potential (50%) to put #’s on draft grade? I don’t get qb movement NOW.” he wrote.
What everyone should understand about player “movement” in draft speculation is that there really isn’t any “movement.” The lists people refer to are not a team list; as I have mentioned a few times the Cardinals have not even started to put together their draft board (The draft room is on the third floor just a short walk from my desk and is a shortcut to the bathroom; trust me, once that path gets shut down to protect the secrets of the process, I am well aware). The lists are educated speculation from pundits like Mel Kiper or Todd McShay or one of hundreds of mock drafts that come out seemingly more often than ever these days.
Realistically, however, you can’t have movement until you talk to a player. The “lists” before the Scouting combine are based on what has been done on the field but also what scouts have let leak during the college season. In the end, though, scouts only have so much of a say, and in the case of the top quarterbacks, no one really has had a chance to interview them until Indianapolis. Those interviews are crucial to the process, since coaches want to see those guys stand in front of a white board and diagram a play or two and explain how to attack a certain defense (I was fortunate enough to sit in for one quarterback’s interview when I was in Indy; fascinating stuff).
So that’s really the first time teams and coaches can fully understand a QB, and opinions morph. And, as those opinions leak, QBs “move” on the lists. More “movement” might happen again after a pro day or private workouts as these teams further scrutinize a player. The background checks are in full swing, and again, that could reveal something to affect opinion. Don’t underestimate reverse physiology either. Are, for example, Andy Dalton (below) or Christian Ponder that good? Or have Gabbert/Newton/Mallett/Locker taken so many broadsides of criticism that to be not one of those guys alone make you more attractive?
Going back to Mykael’s original question though, I’d think game film is still 50 percent of the thought process. Pro day? Maybe 2 percent from on the field (assuming he was at the combine already). The pro day is more important as to talking to the people (trainers, equipment guys, coaches) that had been around the kid. Potential is a huge part of it too, especially for underclassmen like Newton or Gabbert who don’t have a long résumé. So to is fit to what you want to do, and of course, the personal interviews.
“Movement” is a mirage, in many ways. And remember, it only takes one team to love you. If, for instance, the Panthers take Cam Newton first overall, does it matter if the rest of the NFL wouldn’t risk a first-round pick on him?
Tags: Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, draft, Jake Locker, Panthers, Ryan Mallett, Scouting combine
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So yesterday’s Auburn pro day dragged on and on and on just to get to the end part, which was the part everyone was looking for — Cam Newton throwing passes. After his ragged showing in Indy, he needed a good day. He had it, although again, how can you not, throwing against no defenders?
More importantly — and more relevant to anyone reading here — was the end, when coach Ken Whisenhunt stepped up to ask Newton to make a particular throw or two that he had not, and then made sure to shake Newton’s hand after it was over, apparently the lone coach to do so. This was caught on camera, and from a Cardinals’ perspective, tough not to notice.
I agree with Kent Somers: The request from Whisenhunt was less about seeing how Newton made the throws and more about seeing how Newton reacted to being asked to make those throws. I’m sure Newton’s sequence was scripted yesterday; so you ask for something off the script. Playing quarterback in this league is often about adjusting on the fly.
But I wouldn’t read too much into it. Whisenhunt traveled across country to see this pro day (and that’s a fuzzy Whiz on the far left of the Newton picture below). He might as well get something out of it besides what Auburn was trying to portray to the NFL. It doesn’t mean the Cards are suddenly looking at Newton — to me, any interest was always going to come down to how Newton interacts with the Cards during interviews, and what kind of things are said about the kid by those who had to work with him all the time (coaches, trainers, etc.). And I still think there’s a good chance he is taken in the top four picks anyway.
A couple of other things I wanted to touch on:
— There was that “other” pro day yesterday. Arkansas, with QB Ryan Mallett. And he ran a 5.37 40-yard dash. That’s way slow. As a point of reference, Cards tackle Levi Brown ran a 5.40 40 when he came out, guard Deuce Lutui a 5.45 and center Lyle Sendlein a 5.24. Peyton Manning and Dan Marino, neither of whom are considered runners, were under five seconds when they came out.
Does it matter? Maybe not. It’s not like you are going to ask Mallett to rush 15 times a game. But it definitely makes you wonder about his ability to move in the pocket if the play breaks down.
— Seems like almost everyone has linked Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller to the Cardinals — even me — but there are those who aren’t fans of Miller. Former Cardinals scout Dave Razzano, who frequently does work for Comcast in the Bay area, is one of those guys. Razzano compared Miller to Jets bust Vernon Gholston, who was cut after three seasons and zero sacks.
Tags: Cam Newton, Dan Marino, Deuce Lutui, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Peyton Manning, Ryan Mallett, Von Miller
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »
The Cardinals have a handful of decision-makers — including head coach Ken Whisenhunt — attending Auburn’s pro day today, as colleges begin to host their home-cooking workouts. Obviously Auburn has a pair of potential top five picks in QB Cam Newton and DT Nick Fairley. Arkansas also has it’s pro day today; is it notable Whisenhunt chose to go where Newton is and not Ryan Mallett? Maybe. Maybe he already has seen what he wants to see from Mallett. Maybe the Cards will schedule Mallett for a one-on-one workout. The point is I don’t think you can make assumptions based on today’s choice.
At this point, the general feeling is that Newton and Misouri’s Blaine Gabbert (who, after not throwing at the combine, has his pro day March 17) are the top two QBs available. So to me, choosing to watch Newton over Mallett is logical. Doesn’t mean the Cards will take a quarterback.
Which leads me to this point: So many people are wondering if the Cards will take a QB first. What if Newton and Gabbert are both off the board in the top four picks? It may be a moot point for the Cards in the end.
My friend Darin Gantt, who covers the Panthers, told Bengals.com he thinks (at least on March 8th) that Newton will be the Panthers’ pick after losing out on Andrew Luck. That’d be a surprise. But I also remember about this time last year when everyone was just starting to talk about Sam Bradford going to the Rams No. 1 after he was hurt almost his entire final season in college. Everyone at first didn’t think Bradford would be the pick. Then he was, and it turned out pretty well for St. Louis.
That same top-three mock has Denver taking Von Miller at No. 2 and Alabama DT Marcell Dareus going to Buffalo at No. 3. That’d leave Cincinnati before Arizona. But all four teams in front of the Cardinals could conceivably be looking for a quarterback of the future. Would it really be a stunner to see both Newton and Gabbert off the board that early? I don’t think so.
We will see. In the meantime, the Cards will continue checking out the pro days (general manager Rod Graves is scheduled to attend the pro days of TCU, LSU and Texas A&M over the next six days) and doing due diligence. There can only be four players taken before the Cards go. Someone high-profile is going to be sitting there at 5. Who that is, however, remains vague.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, draft, Ken Whisenhunt, Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley, pro days, Rod Graves, Ryan Mallett, Sam Bradford, Von Miller
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As the combine wraps up – at least my portion of it – I think about watching Cam Newton’s workouts today.
Not live. I was there but not there, watching it on TV screens just like you did, if, you know, you watch such things. Then, after Newton ran and he threw, everyone tried to say it was really disappointing or really not. At the airport this evening, I was talking to an assistant coach (not from the Cardinals) and a fellow writer about Cam-mania and taking a risk on him — or any quarterback.
So much was written and tweeted today about the quarterback workouts, Newton and otherwise. People say Ryan Mallett was the best or Jake Locker or Christian Ponder. On the other side, Newton didn’t particularly throw well today. Not that it really matters. Newton’s physical gifts don’t change even if his throwing was errant today and Mallett’s off-field issues can’t be answered by some impressive passes. Somebody on Twitter pointed out the poor 40 times of one running back at the combine a couple years ago – in the 4.55 range – and noted it was Texans back Arian Foster. Foster just happened to lead the NFL in rushing this past season.
In the end, the combine is a piece of the puzzle but only a piece and, in most cases, only a small piece. It’s getting verified numbers in the bench press or the 40 rather than using hearsay. Is any team – say, for instance, the Cardinals – closer to making draft day decisions on any of these players? Maybe a little bit. But that doesn’t mean any team is thinking, “Oh, that’s the QB I want.” Not yet.
Two months until the draft. Still a long way to go.
Tags: Arian Foster, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Scouting combine
Posted in Blog | 88 Comments »
Two quarterbacks with big questions hovering around them met with the media today. Both had sessions that left a lot of those questions.
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett was first, with drug use rumors having just recently been reported. Mallett tried to deflect the questions, insisting he would talk to the various teams about the talk but wasn’t going to talk about it with the media, dismissing them as just rumors. “People can talk about me if they want to but I’m going to play my game,” Mallett said. But the questions didn’t go away, and when one reporter asked a final time that the questions weren’t going to end if Mallett didn’t answer them, Mallett ended the session with a quick thanks before stepping off the podium.
Mallett’s stock has been wildly speculated about, where he will go in the draft. Some thought he could be a high pick. Lately, there seems to be a thought he’ll drop, perhaps to the second round or later. Mallett said the strength of his game is mental, and he’ll have to be mentally strong to maneuver the latest talk.
Then came Auburn QB Cam Newton, who has not only had his own troubled past but recently caught everyone’s attention when he told Sports Illustrated he not only was going to be a football player but also “an entertainer and an icon.” Newton answered the question right away himself, although stunningly pulled out a piece of paper to read it as a prepared statement that football was his No. 1 priority. (He said the statement was misunderstood, and took the blame for that.)
Newton’s arrival stopped the media room — normally there is a buzz of background noise, but almost everyone in the huge room surrounded Newton as he spoke. He looked much more comfortable than Mallett, but was taking the same tack with his past transgressions at the University of Florida. “What I did in the past is in the past,” Newton said. “I’m not going to entertain questions about the past. I’m all about the future.” Newton did come across polished — and overall, better than Mallett in that setting.
Interestingly, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, the other highly rated QB, came off pretty well Friday when he spoke. Of course, the media interviews aren’t what teams are going to look at. It’s the one-on-ones, and I’d expect those — given the millions of dollars at stake — will be a lot tougher to sit through for the players.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Scouting combine
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I made it all the way to January 12.
Obviously, quarterback is going to be a hot topic, probably all offseason. This isn’t the last time I am going to address it on the blog. But it will be the entry I link back to – over and over – whenever someone asks me about one of the popular names floating out there, whether it is a current NFL player or a potential draftee.
So expect to see the URL often in the blog comment section.
I don’t know who is going to play quarterback for the Cardinals in 2011. I don’t know who is going to be on the roster. I don’t think they know right now, and they can’t. The draft isn’t until late-April, and the nitty-gritty talks about who will be available and where they rank on the draft board have yet to occur. Free agency is a little less than two months off, and that’s only if there is no work stoppage. If there is a work stoppage, no free agents can sign anywhere until it is resolved. The same will go for trades involving players.
Those are some of the many reasons I have tried to hold out on talking about potential QBs. I didn’t last very long. So here goes, with the understanding of my limited knowledge of the college guys relegated to watching them on TV here and there:
Kevin Kolb: Might as well start here. If Kolb doesn’t get to start in Philly, he wants to start somewhere else. Ears all over Arizona perked up. But then Andy Reid talked about keeping both Kolb and Michael Vick, and reality sets in. Let’s say the Cards want Kolb (and I don’t know if they do). Forget about working out a trade for a moment. Why would the Eagles deal Kolb? He is under contract for relative peanuts in 2011 ($1.4M) and for now, Michael Vick isn’t under contract at all. Vick might be franchised, or there might not be any tag. Plus Vick got beat up by the end of the season. The Eagles need a backup. Lot of hoops to be jumped before you could ever see Kolb out West (or anywhere besides Philly).
Donovan McNabb: Ahh, my favorite subject. First, he has to be released. If it happens before the lockout, I believe he can be signed. But will that happen? Regardless, I don’t see it here. McNabb will have been let loose by two different teams. His play was less than consistent this year (and yes, I know some people don’t think he had enough weapons). There are questions about his fitness (the Washington stuff earlier this season wasn’t out of the blue), his accuracy and his age. Plus, he’s spent almost his entire career in a West Coast offense that doesn’t exactly mirror the Cards’ offense. I just don’t see it.
Marc Bulger (pictured below): He was a candidate this last offseason and is expected to be one again. He followed Kurt Warner once before. He’ll be available and he’s experienced. These are the plusses. He also hasn’t had a good season since 2006, struggling with less talent in St. Louis and declining skills.
Matt Hasselbeck: Why would the Seahawks let him go now? Or might he have made himself that valuable where they can’t keep him?
Kyle Orton: Has probably proven himself better than many expected. But the reports are the Broncos want a second-round pick for him. I don’t see the Cards doing that, unless they see Orton as a long-term solution (with, for example, Skelton as a backup for now). Would the Cards negotiate a lower pick? I could see that. Again, however, it’s a trade, so until there is a new CBA, Orton is a Bronco and in limbo.
Vince Young: Has skills and has been a winner. Also has reputation for not working hard enough at his craft and has proven he doesn’t handle adversity well. Not a good combination. I don’t see him as a realistic option.
Cam Newton: Was great this past college season – with the operative word being “college.” He was just OK in the national championship game. He’s not Vick, so you can wipe out most of the running part of his game as it translates to the next level. He’s got a ways to go if he is ever going to be a top-flight NFL QB, and I don’t see – right now – how you spend the No. 5 overall pick on him.
Ryan Mallett/Blaine Gabbert: Again, I need to see how these guys sort themselves out during workouts/combine, etc. But right now, hard to tell. Gabbert seems more highly regarded than Mallett, but things can always change as the draft approaches. There are also teams ahead of the Cards who will be looking at QB. I’ll say this: No one left in the draft is Andrew Luck. And the Cards can’t afford to whiff on the No. 5 overall pick.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Mallett, Vince Young
Posted in Blog | 186 Comments »
Let’s get this out of the way: I will be hosting a live chat tomorrow (Thursday) at 1 p.m. Arizona time so we can wrap up the season. You can link to the chat right here.
I know everyone keeps wanting to ask about potential quarterbacks, and that certainly can be a topic. But everyone should also understand I don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t know enough about the incoming draftees (assuming all come out as expected). Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 pick of the Panthers. On that I have little doubt. After that, I don’t know. I don’t know if Cam Newton’s skills translate to the NFL, or if Ryan Mallett will be accurate enough, or if Blaine Gabbert is just a product of a spread offense. I like to get to the combine, when those players become the focus. Right now it’s other things.
Speaking of other things, there hasn’t been any other things here today, as much as everyone has been waiting for some things to happen. There have been meetings as expected, as coach Ken Whisenhunt talks to assistants and general manager Rod Graves. I will say this: If nothing happens by the end of the week staff-wise, you can feel confident no one is being fired. I’m sure people will want to talk about that subject too.
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, draft, Ken Whisenhunt, live chat, Panthers, Rod Graves, Ryan Mallett
Posted in Blog | 156 Comments »