The Arizona Cardinals held seven selections in the 2017 Draft, and each time the organization was on the clock, the possibility that general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians might select a quarterback captivated the team's fanbase.
But by the end of Saturday's draft, all seven picks had come and gone, and the Cardinals elected to bypass the opportunity to add a quarterback of the future from the college ranks.
As Carson Palmer enters the second to last season of his current contract, the 37-year-old knows time is ticking and so does the Cardinals' franchise, which has expressed an interest in creating a succession plan for Palmer but has yet to enact one.
Nevertheless, as "way-too-early" mock drafts for 2018 continue to appear, Arizona is once again linked to quarterbacks, and next year, the Cardinals should have the benefit of working with a deep collection of signal-callers.
Who are some of the players who could end up in Arizona next year? CardinalsSource scoured the market for early mock draft projections to provide our readers with an idea of what prospects could be in consideration.
Luke Falk --Washington State-- In CBS Sports' "way-too-early" mock draft for 2018, the Cardinals are linked to Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who may have been one of the top draft-eligible quarterbacks in this year's draft if he chose to leave school early. Instead, Falk will play out his final season with the Cougars as the engineer behind Mike Leach's Air Raid offense, which has produced plenty of prolific passers at the college level but never an NFL standout. Nevertheless, the stigma Air Raid quarterbacks use to carry as they entered the professional ranks has largely faded, as Cal's Jared Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes was selected 10th overall in 2017. Falk is a top-tier NFL prospect because he has arm strength in spades, and delivers passes with impressive touch and accuracy. Falk's offense is certainly geared toward getting the ball out of his hands quickly, but his tape suggests he has the decision-making prowess and pocket awareness to succeed at the next level.
Lamar Jackson --Louisville-- In Sports Illustrated's "way-too-early" mock draft for 2018, Jackson is the player the Cardinals take, although reporter Chris Burke said Jackson's rise into the first round as a prospect is contingent on him developing a more accurate arm this season. One of the youngest quarterbacks in his class, Jackson oozes potential thanks to freaky athleticism and a strong arm, but he's not necessarily the best fit for the Cardinals' offense. While Jackson isn't a prototypical NFL quarterback because he's so fast and such a threat to run the ball, he has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and there's bound to be a team that takes a chance on him early. What we like the most about Jackson is his competitive demeanor and the confidence he brings to the table on an every down basis, which are both traits that Arians admires in quarterbacks.
Courtland Sutton --Southern Methodist-- While much of the focus for the Cardinals in the 2018 NFL Draft will center on quarterback play, Arizona may very well be tasked with replacing franchise icon Larry Fitzgerald. It's unlike Keim and Arians to attempt to find a cornerstone wide receiver to build around in the first round of a draft, so this pick would surprise us, but if Fitzgerald does indeed retire, all bets are off. As a prospect, Sutton will get high marks because of his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, but the question of whether Arizona would have interest will ultimately come down to how fast Sutton runs at next year's Combine.
Mike McGlinchey --Notre Dame-- ESPN's Todd McShay is considered one of the top draft gurus in the business, but linking the Cardinals to an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft doesn't necessarily make sense. Arizona is fairly satisfied with the four returning starters it will bring back up front, and the team also added two potential impact talents along the line in the middle rounds of this year's draft. Nevertheless, if the Cardinals do follow the theory of drafting the best player available, McGlinchey could wind up being an option because he's a tackle prospect who the franchise could project as the eventual replacement for Jared Veldheer.