Kevin Kolb isn’t all that great at being a quarterback. This is now common knowledge to the fine people of Arizona, and Bills fans are surely aware that at best, he’s a bridge to something better.
But in fairness to Kolb and anyone who tried to play quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals last year, standing behind their offensive line was the equivalent of Homer Simpson’s best boxing efforts. Get punched a lot, and just hope and pray to the almighty that the other guy gets tired before you lose consciousness.
The Cards’ O-line allowed a league worst 58 sacks last year, seven more than the 31st place Packers in that category of pain. Over the previous three seasons, that sack total would have still been a league low. What’s even more remarkable/woeful is that Kolb was the victim of 27 of those QB hurtings, and he appeared in only six games before finally breaking. Kolb’s final three games of the season starting in Week 4 looked like this: eight sacks, nine sacks, five sacks.
There was some improvement over the second half of the season, but the real improvement now needs to come from the draft, with the Cardinals likely in a position to pick Lane Johnson, one of the premier left tackles available. The urgency to employ him is furthered by the recent acquisition of Carson Palmer. Like Kolb in Buffalo, he’s not the future, and instead he’s a fine bridge. But as a statuesque quarterback who plants himself in the pocket, he’ll crumble quickly under intense pressure.
For our Cardinals draft preview I had a quick chat with Jess Root from Revenge of the Birds. He thinks that while Johnson is a strong first-round possibility, the Cards will stick to their draft boards and likely select the best player avaliable. Also, we could see Arizona come away from the draft with several offensive linemen.
1. Lane Johnson has been commonly mocked to the Cardinals, as he’ll most likely be the best available offensive tackle to fill a glaring need up front and protect Carson Palmer, who’s a classic pocket passer. If he’s on the board, is Johnson the automatic pick?
No, I don’t think it’s anything automatic. While the offensive line is a need, they also have needs elsewhere, and the team can find offensive line talent throughout the draft. The Cardinals have said they will base their pick on their draft grades, so Johnson will be the pick if he is more highly rated or if he is about the same as the other positions.
2. Johnson’s widely been projected as the Cardinals’ pick because he’s the last of the elite left tackles in this draft. But is a guard (either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper) also a possibility? Tackle seems like the much more pressing need. Also, will we see multiple picks used to upgrade the offensive line?
Guard is a possibility, but guards can be had throughout the draft. Will there be multiple picks on the offensive line? I would expect that.
3. Age isn’t Palmer’s friend, and behind him Drew Stanton and Brian Hoyer aren’t the future at quarterback either. Will a quarterback be targeted early?
Bruce Arians said that a quarterback would have to “pop out” at them to pick one early. He has also said that no one makes him go “wow.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t draft any.
4. Can we expect the Cardinals to dip into a deep safety class, and look at one of Eric Reid, D.J. Swearinger, Bacarri Rambo, or Shamarko Thomas on Day 2? They’d all slide in nicely to replace Kerry Rhodes and/or Adrian Wilson.
I completely expect a safety to be drafted in the middle rounds. This safety class is loaded.
5. What other needs should be addressed? An upgrade at outside linebacker is another possible early direction.