Matt Barkley Cardinals: Arizona Must Fix O-Line Before Taking USC QB

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 4, 2013

Feb 22, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barkley can't fix the Arizona Cardinals' offensive problems from his back.

As seemingly every other NFC West team took gargantuan leaps forward last year, the Cardinals were stuck in the mud, and that's putting it lightly. 

After an encouraging 4-0 start, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer—not exactly what you would call the Fantastic 4 of quarterbacks—"led" the Cardinals to one win in their next 12 games.

When it was all said and done, the quartet had combined to complete 55.4 percent of its passes for 3,383 yards, 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions (which includes Kolb's 8:3 ratio) for an anemic QB ratio of 63.1.

Going forward, change under center was a painfully obvious priority, and it's now apparent that new head coach Bruce Arians felt the same way. 

Not only did he sign Drew Stanton and trade for Carson Palmer, but he is reportedly interested in an another gunslinger in the upcoming draft (via's Kareem Copeland):

Coach Bruce Arians, general manager Steve Keim and scouts will hold a private workout with Matt Barkley on the University of Southern California campus Saturday, a source with knowledge of the plans told's Ian Rapoport.

There's only one problem. Someone has to protect all of these quarterbacks.

Granted having a bunch of guys under center who can't make pre-snap reads or get the ball out quickly doesn't help, but the Cardinals gave up a league-worst 58 sacks last year. They were also second to last with a sack percentage of 8.57.

With zero free-agent signings on that front, improvement is needed through the draft, and it has to take priority over the quarterback position. 

Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton aren't exactly what you would deem franchise quarterbacks, but they can step in right away and contribute. Palmer is coming off a 4,018-yard season and a QB rating of 85.3, while Stanton is a serviceable backup who hasn't gotten many opportunities to prove his worth.

Finding a quarterback of the future is still a necessity, but Palmer and Stanton can tread water until that happens. Moreover, considering the makeup of this draft (no elite prospects at quarterback, but lots of depth in the trenches), reaching for someone who isn't a sure thing and ignoring your biggest unaddressed need makes little sense for Arians and Co. 

If Barkley somehow slips to the third round, then by all means go for it. But first and foremost, the Cardinals must have some players to protect him.