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Friday, March 22, 2013
Geno Smith to the Cardinals? Not so fast

By Mike Sando

Various 2013 NFL mock drafts have the Arizona Cardinals selecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the seventh overall pick.

The logic is sound in that Arizona has needed quarterback help for years. The problem is that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likes Drew Stanton, doesn't sound enamored with Smith and thinks Arizona's needs at the position are overstated.

Arians, speaking Wednesday at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix, could have been going out of his way to mislead. He might secretly love Smith and hope no other team selects Smith among the top six overall choices. That wasn't my feel at all.

Arians was with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis last season. Before that, he helped coach Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. He's very open about what he wants in players and how he wants things done. Running backs should be every-down players. Quarterback competitions are bad for the locker room. There's no room on the roster for fullbacks. In that spirit, Arians was very open when asked whether Smith compares to Luck and the other top rookies quarterbacks from 2012.

"Athletically, yes," Arians said. "He can throw the football and he obviously had a great workout the other day. The guys that were in the combine last year, all of them when they left the room, you went, 'Wow.' No one in this draft made me go, 'Wow.' Now, can they throw the football? Yeah."

Throwing the football isn't enough. Arians made that clear.

"Did not go to his workout," Arians said of Smith, "but on tape he can make every throw. He is athletic and he has a big arm, good release, fairly accurate, but the time of putting him on the board and all those things is still happening soon.

"He has got the skill set as many guys have skill sets. You don’t play the game with that skill set. The two muscles that you play quarterback with you can’t evaluate. The brain and the heart. That is a winning quarterback. Until you get in the huddle with them, you don’t know what you have."

Arians has seen the mock drafts projecting a quarterback to Arizona at No. 7. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider both went that direction recently, citing need over value. Arians correctly noted that most mock drafts overemphasize perceived needs at the expense of actual player value. He issued the usual warnings about reaching to fill needs.

Stanton will start next season if the Cardinals do not acquire anyone else at the position.

Arians said so: "It depends once we get the roster set and if that room hasn’t changed, he is our starter. It's that easy."

Perhaps someone such as Carson Palmer will become available. That could change the dynamic. Arians is certain he wants a starter named by training camp either way. He believes in clarity at quarterback and competition at other spots.

"If there is a quarterback that fits the spot in the draft that you want to put him at and the value of him, then you take one," Arians said. "I feel very comfortable with our situation right now with Drew Stanton in our mix. The need value is not there."