Cardinals coach Bruce Arians (left, with General Manager Steve Keim at Tuesday's pre-draft press conference) said there are five or six quarterbacks in the draft that could develop into NFL starters.
Bruce Arians has said often a young quarterback needs to be on the field to learn his craft.
That doesn't necessarily mean it makes sense to play a young quarterback who isn't ready. The Cardinals, if they were to draft a quarterback of the future next week, will not be playing any rookie – they still have Carson Palmer to start.
But Arians believes that because of Palmer's in-season schedule, a rookie quarterback might be better off than with some other teams.
"If we were fortunate to get (a rookie quarterback), he's going to have a unique situation in that Carson doesn't practice
on Wednesdays," Arians said. "(The rookie) is going to get first-team, game reps with the starting offense on Wednesdays. That ain't a normal rookie. So this is going to be very unique situation if a guy falls to us."
Palmer started taking Wednesdays off during the season, and although he played down his rest when asked about it then, Arians told cbssports.com in a Monday interview Palmer overworked himself early in the season.
"Carson is one of those guys who is going to overwork," Arians said. "He overworked his arm in training camp and even into September practices, to the point where we really had to back off. Once we learned how to back off and still get ready for Sunday, everything bounced back. In late November, December, his arm really bounced back."
Palmer considered retirement after the season, and has acknowledged his future remains year-to-year. It's why a long-term replacement (backup Drew Stanton is about to turn 33 and in the last year of his contract) is crucial.
Arians made the point "if a guy falls to us," however, and the if remains a big if.
Arians said there are "five or six" quarterback projects that could develop into quality starters in the NFL -- "It's
probably the best group of (draftable) arms in the last four or five years," he said – but arms don't necessarily translate to quarterbacking.
As Keim said yet again Tuesday, a misfire on a quarterback with a high pick can set a franchise back a number of years.
"There are only so many people walking this earth that have the ability to make the throws not only from a physical standpoint, but their mind to be able to play fast enough as well," Keim said. "That's why supply-and-demand is such an issue on this level."
The Cardinals have the 13th overall pick. Whether there would be a quarterback they love enough to take one then is yet to be determined. Taking a quarterback with one of their eight picks does seem to be more likely than not.
It was notable that Keim emphasized the Cardinals would not pass on drafting what they'd feel was the right quarterback at the right place in favor of waiting for what is expected to be a quality QB class in 2018.
But as both Keim and Arians have been saying for while – to the surprise of no one – the Cardinals are going to need a good young quarterback soon.
"I'd like to keep my job for a while," Keim said. "I do have four small kids."
Images from the first day of the offseason strength and conditioning program