2011 NFL Draft Recap: Arizona Cardinals Improve by Not Taking a Quarterback

Eli Nachmany@EliNachmanyCorrespondent IIIMay 4, 2011

TEMPE, AZ - APRIL 29:  (L-R) Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, first round draft pick Patrick Peterson and general manager Rod Graves of the Arizona Cardinals pose together during a press conference to introduce Peterson at the team's training center auditorium on April 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sometimes, the best move is the one never made.

The Arizona Cardinals came into the draft quarterback-needy and relatively talented elsewhere.

Despite many analysts tabbing Arizona as Blaine Gabbert’s final destination, the Cardinals wisely shrugged off their need at the quarterback position and drafted Patrick Peterson.

No quarterback in this draft is a clear-cut franchise signal-caller, and NFL teams showed a lack of consensus at the top of draft boards.

The Titans picked Jake Locker ahead of Blaine Gabbert and the Redskins traded out of their pick when the Missouri product fell into their laps with the 10th pick.

The Cardinals were content to acknowledge the overpowering defensive talent in the draft, and as such, the team picked the best player with Peterson.

Arizona had a few needs other than quarterback (though none were more glaring), and the Cardinals admirably improved their team.

Peterson will come in and be an immediate starter for the Cardinals, lining up opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and adding even more big-play capability to the defense.

In a watered–down NFC West (as compared to other divisions), the Cardinals have a chance to dominate other teams defensively, and could win a number of low-scoring struggles.

Look for developing quarterback Sam Bradford to have tough reads against the Cardinals.

If Arizona can shut down Bradford, arguably the best quarterback in the division, the team has a chance to make real strides in the win-loss column and contend for the division.

Young quarterbacks are set to take over soon in San Francisco and Seattle (Colin Kaepernick and Charlie Whitehurst, respectively), and the Cardinals needed two young cornerbacks to keep these quarterbacks in check for the long-term.

Pairing Peterson with Rodgers-Cromartie, the team did just that.

In the second round, the Cardinals brought talented rusher Ryan Williams into the fold.

Despite having a crowded group of running backs already, Williams could easily become the featured back in Arizona.

Williams is a tough, punishing, downhill runner who is ready to work hard and become the next big thing in Arizona.

In the third round, the Cardinals further upgraded their offense by selecting tight end Rob Housler.

Arizona is suddenly an attractive destination for seasoned quarterbacks, and if the Cardinals bring in Marc Bulger via free agency or acquire Kevin Kolb through a trade when the labor situation is resolved, they could certainly be a playoff contender.

After Housler, the Cardinals picked the underrated Sam Acho and improved their pass rush.

Pairing Acho with entrenched Cardinals on the defensive front makes the Cardinals a much better team.

The Cardinals finished off their draft well, nabbing Quan Sturdivant in a later round, and are prepared to make a playoff push in 2011.

The Cardinals are one piece away from being a contender to take the NFC West crown.

If Ken Whisenhunt brings in a quarterback, watch out.

The desert may be on fire…again.