There is incredible volatility to playing quarterback in the NFL. One play you're standing in a clean pocket, with perfect view of a receiver route tree, while stepping into a pass that will certainly result in a touchdown. The next play, you're can get blindsided, or hit in the mouth, or fumble the ball away because of a missed assignment by a teammate, or making a bad read and throwing an interception.
No position in sports has that kind of diverse outcome from minute to minute. You're a hero or a goat on almost every play, with very little grey area. Only a certain few can handle that kind of pressure, expectation, and stress. Arm strength,
prototype size, and athletic ability don't get you very far if you can't ignore the previous play, whether good or bad. The idea of being judged on every snap is not for everyone, and has probably caused the downfall of more first round picks than anything else.
To me, this is Carson Palmer's greatest attribute, and the reason he's a legitimate MVP candidate, and front runner for NFL comeback player of the year.
The Seattle game was a prime example. From getting battered by the Seahawks' pass rush and losing fumbles to engineering a game winning touchdown drive when you can't hear or think because of the decibel level in the stadium. Palmer also has the physical tools that any NFL team would want in its QB. However, it's his short memory (ability to quickly forget the last play) and his resilience that have been the hallmark of his time as an Arizona Cardinal.
I call college football games every week for ESPN. I've seen some of the country's best QBs in person this season, including Michigan State's Connor Cook, Jared Goff of Cal, Trevone Boykin of TCU, Cody Kessler from USC, and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State. All are talented, and have a lot of physical tools. What I can't tell -- and what most talent evaluators can't tell -- is whether they have the "intangibles" to make it as an NFL quarterback.
The ability to process information quickly, to get up from the ground after getting blasted and call the next play, plus the mental makeup to handle adversity, are things most people simply can't prognosticate. Sometimes, you only have those things because you've learned on the job. Carson Palmer's years of playing experience have taught him, and late in his career, the Cardinals are benefitting from it.