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Considering That First QB

Cardinals must decide whether first pick makes sense for signal-caller

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Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt (left) and general manager Rod Graves address the media Friday at the annual Scouting combine.




INDIANAPOLIS – Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert were among the NFL-quarterbacks-to-be that spoke to the media Friday.

Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, delayed by Scouting combine-related tasks, were not.

Available or not, those were the names floating around everyone's mind when it comes to the Cardinals, one of many teams at the top of the NFL draft who could use a quarterback. But in the Cards' case, with a team – and a division – that seemingly remains conducive to making an immediate playoff push, the question becomes whether the Cards want to spent the No. 5 choice on a position that might not help as quickly as another elsewhere on the field.

"If you look at (Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan or (Rams quarterback) Sam Bradford or some of those guys, if you feel strongly about a player like that, then certainly you can take a guy at No. 5, because they can have an impact," coach Ken Whisenhunt said Friday when speaking to the media at the NFL combine.

"It all comes down to where your needs are at a team and how players fit that need. There are a lot of different scenarios we are looking at this year because of the needs we have trying to get back to the type of team we had been. I wouldn't rule anything out."

Picking so high, the Cardinals could go with a pass rusher like Texas A&M's Von Miller or a cornerback like LSU's Patrick Peterson and, in theory, receive immediate payback.

Even with Whisenhunt's examples, rookie quarterbacks traditionally take some time at a position where taking time isn't a luxury afforded.

General manager Rod Graves said the Cards aren't ready to make such a decision yet, not with so much left to do to sort through draft picks.

"While it's not an assurance that every player at any position will be able to do that, we are concerned that we need to have an immediate impact," Graves acknowledged. "A lot will depend on what happens in free agency, if we're involved in free agency at that point."

That's one of the problems the Cardinals face. Free agency would be delayed with a work stoppage. If it pushes free agency after the draft – flip-flopping what happens normally – it throws a wrench into the search for a quarterback, given that the Cardinals are expected to acquire a new veteran signal-caller.

Both Graves and Whisenhunt insist they aren't concerned about that right now, that all they can do is prepare for the offseason that normally comes.

But, Whisenhunt added, "it doesn't affect us whether we take a quarterback or not (in the draft)."

WAITING ON FANECA


Whisenhunt said he has talked to guard Alan Faneca a couple of times about his future. Faneca, a free agent, is contemplating retirement. Whisenhunt wants Faneca to return in 2011.

"Obviously there is no pressure to make a decision right now," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully he'll get a chance to step away from the season and want to come back and play, but I'm not going to push the issue. That's happen in time but I'm not concerned right now.

ANALYZING BEANIE


Graves said the Cardinals are "looking for more" from running back Beanie Wells as he heads into his third season.

"His injuries have been legitimate injuries but we are expecting he is going to make an even larger contribution to our football team," Graves said. "Beanie is a very talented player, and I think we're fortunate to have both him and Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling. We've had a very outstanding group of running backs. He (Wells) has the talent to be an every-down player."

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