The Arizona Cardinals could be blowing smoke when they suggest the 2011 NFL draft lacks elite, well-rounded quarterback prospects at the top.
I think they're being honest.
There isn't a quarterback generating the feelings Sam Bradford generated as the No. 1 overall choice last year.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt drove home this point Tuesday during a conversation with Mike Jurecki and Dan Bickley on XTRA910 radio in Phoenix:
"There is nobody that really stands out like Sam Bradford did last year. There are a lot of guys that are intriguing athletically like Blaine Gabbert, like Cam Newton, because of the skill set, some of the things they can do. But I don’t think they have shown the ability to do some of the things that you have seen in the past by some of these guys like a Matt Ryan or, obviously, like a Sam Bradford.
"There is going to be some uncertainty in the overall comparisons or even in your preparations. The one thing you know is there are some good athletes there. It’s going to come down to a grade we put on them and it’s going to be interesting how they stack up not only to other players in this draft but to other players that you have had before that you have graded, other quarterbacks in the past.
Steve Keim, the Cardinals player personnel director, previously said it's tough drafting a quarterback fifth overall without feeling "convinced" that player is "the guy" to lead the franchise.
It is possible the Cardinals think Gabbert, Newton or another quarterback in this draft is that guy. That would run counter to general perceptions about the draft. Quite a few mocks have quarterbacks going early, based largely on need and value of the position.
Whisenhunt said it's tough for quarterbacks to make a positive impact as rookies. He also touched upon a mantra that has driven the Cardinals' thinking at the top of the draft. Arizona has said it prefers drafting players at positions where they can make the greatest impact right away.
"We need somebody at that spot (fifth overall) that is going to have an impact for us this year, that can make some of those plays," Whisenhunt said.