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A Brief History Of Cardinals QB Picks

Posted Apr 11, 2017

Since moving to Arizona, the team has selected 13 signal-callers

The Cardinals selected USC quarterback Matt Leinart with the 10th pick of the 2006 draft.

The Cardinals have made it evident they will consider – heavily – drafting a quarterback this month.

Maybe it would be at 13 overall in the first round. Maybe at No. 45 in the second round. Maybe the Cardinals move up (or down) in that area to find a successor to Carson Palmer, or maybe they just wait it out and take a flier in the later rounds.

“You have them set on your board where you want to take that quarterback,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “If he falls to you, take him. But don’t reach. If you have one (ranked) in the fourth round, don’t take him in the third round. That’s when you screw up your board, and you’re probably putting him in a position where he doesn’t belong.”

The Cardinals have drafted 13 quarterbacks in the 29 drafts since the franchise moved to Arizona. A look at all 13, from the first round to the 12th:

FIRST ROUND

Matt Leinart (10th overall, 2006): Then-coach Dennis Green called Leinart’s slide to 10th “a gift from heaven.” The Cardinals, with an aging Kurt Warner, wanted to set themselves up for the future. (Sound familiar?) Leinart was supposed to sit as a rookie behind Warner. Instead, the fumble-prone Warner (10 fumbles in the first 3½ games) got benched. Leinart actually played well in his first two starts against Kansas City and Chicago. Both were losses, and it went downhill. Leinart did have a 405-yard passing game later that season, but Green was fired, Ken Whisenhunt came in and Warner found the fountain of youth.

Leinart should have won the starting job in 2010 after Warner’s retirement. But he never fit with Whisenhunt and his play didn’t improve, and the Cards parted ways with him at the end of the preseason.

Timm Rosenbach (supplemental draft, 1989): Rosenbach cost the Cards a first-rounder in 1990 when they snapped him up in the supplemental draft. He had a 3,000-yard season in his first year starting. But he blew out his knee and never regained his abilities or his spot. Those were rough years for the franchise, and it would have been interesting if Rosenbach could have stayed healthy to see what he might have been.

SECOND ROUND

Jake Plummer (42nd overall, 1997): The Cardinals took the hometown hero out of Arizona State and it was worth it. Plummer already had the hearts of the fans, and he only added to that with his seat-of-the-pants play that helped lead the Cards to their first postseason in the desert in 1998. But key players left after that season, and Plummer couldn’t sustain his success. He was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 2002 season, when he went to Denver and had success with the Broncos.

Tony Sacca (46th overall, 1992): A pick that raised eyebrows at the time, Sacca lasted just one season with the Cardinals, completing 4-of-11 passes as a third-stringer behind Chris Chandler and Rosenbach.

THIRD ROUND

Josh McCown (81st overall, 2002): The Cardinals liked his arm strength, and later, Green liked him well enough that he was comfortable spending a 2004 third overall pick not on Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger but Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has worked out well. McCown is still playing in the NFL. But his time in Arizona was undercut in part by coaching changes, the 2005 signing of Warner and the 2006 drafting of Leinart.

Stoney Case (80th overall, 1995): He lasted into a fourth season but barely played, with 55 of his 57 Cardinals pass attempts coming in Plummer’s rookie year, when it was clear Plummer was the QB of the future. Despite his draft status, he was never a serious threat to become a starter.

Tom Tupa (68th overall, 1988): The Cardinals did take a quarterback in the first draft as the Phoenix Cardinals. Tupa actually got the majority of work in the 1991 season ahead of Stan Gelbaugh. Tupa had six touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in 315 attempts. He never played QB for the Cards again. A punter, he struggled in that regard as well.

FOURTH ROUND

Logan Thomas (120th overall, 2014): The Cardinals took a flier on a guy with lots of physical tools but inconsistent-at-best on-field results in college. It didn’t work. He lasted one season and nine passes (one completion, an 81-yard TD) before being released, and is now trying to become a tight end with the Bills.

FIFTH ROUND

John Skelton (155th overall, 2010): Kept as a rookie the year Leinart was cut, Skelton could never harness his big arm with any kind of accuracy. He did guide the Cardinals (with huge help from Fitzgerald, who had an underappreciated great season) to a .500 record in 2011 after the team started 1-6.

SIXTH ROUND

Ryan Lindley (185th overall, 2012): Lindley was put on the field much too early, replacing Skelton as a rookie when Kevin Kolb couldn’t stay healthy and the Cardinals couldn’t score. He hung around in the Bruce Arians era, providing a body late in 2014 when injuries took down Palmer and Drew Stanton and Thomas wasn’t ready. He struggled in a playoff loss to Carolina, which is what most fans remember.

SEVENTH ROUND

John Navarre (202nd overall, 2004): Part of the best draft class in Arizona Cardinals history, although his play didn’t exactly add to it. Actually got a start in Detroit as a rookie, when Green decided he didn’t want to play McCown anymore and Shaun King struggled. Navarre shouldn’t have been playing and struggled as expected. He also broke a finger, ending his season. He threw a total of 64 passes in two seasons.

Chris Greisen (239th overall, 1999): A third-stringer for three seasons, he threw 16 passes during the Plummer era.

TWELFTH ROUND

Jeff Bridewell (309th overall, 1991): He didn’t make it on to the roster.

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