RENTON, Wash. -- The Arizona Cardinals did not come right out and say they would avoid the top quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL draft.
PetersonInstead, they dropped hints. Strong hints.
Whisenhunt later qualified those comments, but serious doubts remained, at least for me. The Cardinals appeared more likely to lean toward an immediate impact player on defense, paticularly if Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller were available when they chose with the fifth overall choice.
Miller was long gone Thursday when Arizona finally selected. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was there, and the Cardinals selected him -- even with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert still available.
We can now expect the Cardinals to pursue a veteran quarterback after the draft -- Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger or someone. They certainly will not go into the 2011 season with John Skelton or Max Hall as their starter (and we can assume Derek Anderson will not be back at all).
The Cardinals now have the makings of a dynamic secondary. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, a first-round choice in 2008, has been to a Pro Bowl as a cornerback. Strong safety Adrian Wilson has been to multiple Pro Bowls. Free safety Kerry Rhodes is coming off one of his best seasons. And the team's new defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, played cornerback in the NFL.
Arizona did not get the pass-rusher it needed. The team made a bold statement by not taking Gabbert.
Peterson looks like he'll become an outstanding player. He was the safe, value pick. But if Gabbert enjoys a highly successful career while Arizona struggles to find a quarterback, the Cardinals will have to live with the fallout.
For now, however, they've taken a player they can feel very good about.