It’s unfair to condemn Kevin Kolb as a quarterback because of his subpar play last season, as he—as well as every other Arizona Cardinals QB—was consistently under siege. Still, Carson Palmer should be the best quarterback with whom wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has played since Kurt Warner.
The arrival of Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals and departure of Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers keeps one thing constant among NFC West quarterbacks.
The division was home to two former No. 1 overall picks (Smith and St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford) in 2012 and will remain that way in 2013 (Bradford and Palmer). Unfortunately, it can be argued that the two top selections in their respective draft classes are the third- and fourth-best QBs in the NFC West.
Out with the old, in with the older.
Arizona’s four starting QBs in 2012 combined for 27 starts entering the year.
Of course, the mere fact that they started four different dudes under center screams that there was a problem not only with the productivity at the position, but the offensive line tasked with keeping their jerseys clean.
Most teams don’t even roster four QBs.
Assuming that they address the offensive line early, if not often, in the NFL draft—and they better—the Cardinals can expect a better, more consistent return from Palmer than they’ve seen from the position since Warner left the desert.
Arizona’s leading passer hasn’t thrown for even 2,100 yards since Warner put up 3,753 in 2009.
Coming off a 4,000-yard season, Palmer has thrown for 1,248 more yards than every passer in a Cardinals uniform combined—in seven fewer games—since 2010. He missed six in 2011 and one last season, but he was sacked an incredible 93 times fewer than Fitzgerald’s QBs (from ESPN Stats & Information).
The numbers suggest that Palmer will be an upgrade, but for how long?
The veteran is already 33 years old. He could potentially play at a 4,000-yard level for another few years, but he’s only contractually tied to Arizona for two seasons. A contingency plan must be in place—preferably a younger QB.
With this year’s draft class being universally panned in terms of value at the top of the order, do they reach for one at No. 7 overall? That has its merits: A young guy could come in and learn behind Palmer without the pressure to play from his team or his team’s fans.
But he could also be forced into action behind a still-shaky offensive line if Arizona’s first selection goes toward finding a guy to throw the football rather than keeping said football-thrower healthy.
It comes down to drafting a signal-caller in the second or third round this spring, if not passing on this class altogether and hoping for better luck in the 2014 selection process.
Palmer may not be the future, but he should at least be adequate for a year or two.
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