This year there is no sure thing.
One year after the Colts selected Stanford’s Andrew Luck with the first overall pick to be the franchise quarterback here in Indianapolis the picture, like the local weather, is cloudy as the NFL Combine kicks into high gear.
The 2013 QB class on paper doesn’t boast the elite “star power” of previous years when Robert Griffin III (Washington), Cam Newton (Carolina), Sam Bradford (St. Louis) and Matthew Stafford (Detroit) were all no-brainer top picks chosen to be “the guy” under center.
Judging from what we’ve seen the past few years it’s apparent the Arizona Cardinals don’t have “the guy.”
New head coach Bruce Arians, along with Luck, helped guide the Colts back to the playoffs just months after Indy officially closed the curtain on the Peyton Manning Era.
Now Arians, new General Manager Steve Keim and the rest of the Cards’ front office have plenty of personnel decisions to make as they pick up the pieces from last year’s 5-11 mess which included an ugly nine-game losing streak and four different quarterbacks taking snaps.
Kevin Kolb is owed $11 million this season (a $2 million roster bonus next month on top of his $9 million annual salary) and the Red Birds are expected to look into restructuring a deal at a more cost-effective price. Kolb could test the market if cut by Arizona, but it’s unlikely suitors will jump to sign him to a figure close to what he is making with Cards due to injury concerns (he played only six games in 2012, starting five). Since coming over in an off-season trade from the Eagles in the summer of 2011 he has appeared in only 15 games.
So now the question is what will Arizona do when they’re on the clock with the seventh overall pick? There are other needs to be addressed early in the draft, particularly on the offensive line where key injuries (Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein) and inconsistent play damaged an already under performing offense last fall. Inside linebacker, opposite Daryl Washington, is another spot in need of an upgrade.
Some of the top quarterbacks in this class have red flags attached. USC’s Matt Barkley won’t throw at the Combine after not being medically cleared as he continues to rehab his injured shoulder. Barkley is expected to throw at USC’s pro day March 27th.West Virginia’s Gino Smith and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones both feature excellent skill sets, but some question if their stats were inflated because of the up-tempo, spread offenses they ran in college. NC State’s Mike Glennon who features a big arm, but limited mobility has been linked to the Cards in mock drafts.
Regardless of who’s under center be sure Arians has a well thought-out plan at quarterback to avoid following the path of Ken Whisenhunt who was fired after the Red Birds sputtered following Kurt Warner’s retirement.
Roster changes are coming and it will be interesting to see it all plays out over the coming months, starting here in Indianapolis.