One of the hardest-core Arizona Cardinals fans I know ("Jeremy S.") occasionally sends detailed messages to me breaking down various aspects of the team.
His latest plan goes like this: With no quarterback consensus in the draft this year, the four teams picking ahead of the Cardinals focus on other positions. Arizona then trades the fifth pick to one of the quarterback-needy teams selecting later in the first round. The Cardinals emerge with additional picks. They use the first-round pick acquired via trade to select University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who fits their system.
"I believe Locker will be the best QB to come out of this draft class," Jeremy wrote. "Let’s not forget the guy was considered to be the first overall pick in 2010 if he had declared for the draft. Let’s also take into consideration the Cards could definitely use extra third- and fourth-rounders to replace several years' worth of aging veteran free-agent acquisitions."
Draft evaluators disagree with Jeremy's assessment of the quarterbacks. Rob Rang's latest mock draft has quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert gone among the first four overall choices. Most other mocks I've seen have at least one quarterback gone by the time Arizona would be on the clock with the fifth pick.
A quarterback went first overall eight times in the last 10 drafts. No quarterback was taken second overall during that time. Three went third and one went fourth. At least one quarterback was gone by the fifth pick in each of the last 10 drafts. Two quarterbacks went among the top four choices in 2002 and 2004.
Using recent history as a guide, there's a decent chance one of the top two quarterbacks will be available when the Cardinals select fifth overall. At that point, the team would need to make a value judgment on the players available. If Von Miller is one of them, and if the Cardinals agree with assessments saying Miller will be an elite pass-rusher, Arizona should select him. They need a dominant outside rusher too badly to pass on one. But if the team isn't sold on the top quarterbacks and doesn't have a pass-rusher rated high enough to dictate selecting him at No. 5, the Cardinals should absolutely consider what value they might get for the pick.
One team coveting a quarterback is all it takes. Two years ago, for instance, the New York Jets moved up from 17th to fifth in a trade with Cleveland, selecting Mark Sanchez. The move appears defensible for all parties. Sanchez wasn't good enough to reverse the Browns' fortunes, but the Jets had a strong enough supporting cast to help him succeed.
2001-2010 NFL Drafts: Quarterbacks Taken Among First Four Picks
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