<br> <span style="font-size: xx-small;">Coach Bruce Arians has a laugh with Big Red before starting Wednesday's charity golf tournament at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler.</span><br> <br> <br>
When Bruce Arians takes stock of the quarterbacks available in next month’s NFL draft, he doesn’t see a clear-cut franchise guy. For the Cardinals, who choose at No. 20 overall in the first round, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Unlike when Andrew Luck and Cam Newton came out in recent years, there is considerable debate surrounding the value of the top signal-callers available. Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Fresno State’s Derek Carr are projected as first-round selections, but pundits are split on who is the best and where each will be selected.
Bridgewater might be the best example, as some mock drafts have him as the top quarterback available and others have him sliding to the second round. Since the Cardinals
are too low in the draft to get a consensus No. 1 guy, the uncertainty could favor them.
“I don’t know how many of them have a ‘Wow’ factor, but there are some really, really good ones, guys that are going to play in the league for a long time,” Arians said Wednesday at the Cardinals Charities Celebrity Golf Classic at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler. “I don’t see an Andrew Luck, a Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning, but I do see some guys that are very capable of playing.”
With Carson Palmer set to return as the starter, the Cardinals don’t have a pressing need at the position for 2014, but could still select a quarterback for the future. But if teams ahead of the Cardinals gobble up the top quarterbacks – as often happens in the draft – it could strengthen the players available at the other positions.
“We don’t have one (specific area to target),” Arians said. “That’s the beauty. (General Manager) Steve (Keim) did a great job in free agency. We can take the team we have right now and go play. We don’t need anything.”
PUP LIKELY FOR MATHIEU, BUT HIS OPTIMISM REMAINS
Safety Tyrann Mathieu is making progress in his recovery from torn knee ligaments, but Arians doesn’t think he will be ready for the start of training camp.
“I think Ty is still going to be up to the wire,” Arians said. “I still anticipate him on (the physically unable to perform list), but he refuses to believe it. That’s a good thing.”
When Mathieu originally suffered the injury on Dec. 8 against the Rams, he spoke optimistically of a camp return, and Arians’ comments on Wednesday didn’t change that thinking.
“When my team takes the field, I want to take the field, too,” Mathieu said. “I don’t know if I’ll be pushing it, but it’s what I want. I’ll be pushing for that, shooting for that. But if not, I’m fine with the trainers’ and the doctors’ decision.”
ALEXANDER PROGRESSING AFTER UNCERTAINTY
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander suffered a season-ending Lisfranc tendon injury in Week 3 against the Saints, and in February, Arians thought it might keep him out even longer than that.
However, Alexander has gotten over a hurdle in the rehabilitation process and hopes to be fully operational by the end of OTAs.
“I was really worried about Lorenzo,” Arians said. “Those are really tricky. So many guys don’t ever come back, or come right back and injure it again. We’re going to be very careful with his, but he is looking really, really good right now.”
Alexander is a special teams standout and can play both inside and outside linebacker, so he could be a valuable piece in 2014. He said he’s at the point now where he can make all the moves needed, including running, jumping and changing direction.
“I’ve done everything that’s in a non-competitive format,” Alexander said. “Obviously I just want to continue to work and eventually be able to (practice fully).”
Arians said he’s happy with the progress of all the players who suffered significant injuries last year, which included Mathieu, Alexander, linebacker Sam Acho (foot), guard Jonathan Cooper (foot), linebacker Alex Okafor (biceps) and defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu (knee).
“Everybody’s either in the program full speed or right on schedule,” Arians said.
Images from the 2014 Cardinals Charities Celebrity Golf Classic at the Whirlwind Golf Club.