Author – Bryan Trulen
Arizona Cardinals Preview
#3 Carson Palmer 6’5” 235 14th Year, USC
Carson Palmer turned in an MVP Caliber Season for Arizona in 2015 while throwing for over 4,600 yards and 35 TD passes. Palmer was playing the best football of his career during year 3 in Bruce Arians’s system. Much like Drew Brees and Sean Payton, Palmer and Arians seem to be a match made in heaven for each other. Palmer has said Arians is the best coach in the league by far and is constantly educating his players on the finer points of the game.
Palmer is included in an elder group of signal callers (Brady, Brees, Rivers, Eli, Big Ben) who seem to only get better as they age. Palmer was simply masterful in just about every area during 2015. Watching Palmer operate from the Pocket in 2015 was like watching an artist perfect his craft before your eyes as he was simply masterful in so many different ways. Palmer was able to blend elements such as throwing with anticipation and touch, holding safeties with his eyes and utilizing pump fakes while dropping throws in the absolute perfect location week after week.
Palmer throws one of the prettier balls in the league and people forget just how strong his arm can be. There were countless times in 2015 where Palmer beat good down the field coverage with a combination of sheer arm strength mixed with elite level accuracy. If there is a weakness to Palmer’s game it is that he has a tendency to hold onto the ball a bit too long at times as his eyes are often fixated down the field. This will cause him to throw late at times to underneath routes. To expect a repeat of 2015 would be far fetched but given the rate of improvement within Bruce Arians’s system we may just witness this type of a year from Palmer again in 2016, health permitting.
#5 Drew Stanton 6’2” 242 10th Year, Michigan State
Drew Stanton is capable, gun-slinging minded backup quarterback who has developed a close relationship with Cardinal coach Bruce Arians as he and Arians came to Arizona together from Indianapolis in 2013. Stanton is a guy who possesses certain intangibles required for the position such as grit, willingness to take chances with ball and high level leadership traits. He is a respected veteran member of the Arizona locker room because of this. When Stanton has played he has performed well at times much of which can be attributed to the intangible traits mentioned earlier. Stanton does not posses a lightning quick or natural release of the football which has hampered him at times within the short passing game in terms of him lacking the ability to get the ball out of his hand at the snap of a finger. Often times he has thrown incompletions and even interceptions due to this weak area of his game.
Stanton does boast a strong arm and can push the ball down the field as we saw at times during the 2014 season when he stepped in for an injured Carson Palmer coming up big in tight spots throughout the tail end of that year for Arizona. Stanton is an imperfect quarterback from a purist standpoint but his grit, determination, arm strength and functional athleticism allow him to make the most out of his physical ability and will his team to victory when when forced to play.
#9 Matt Barkley 6’2″ 227 4th Year, USC.
The former 4th round selection out of Southern Cal was traded into an ideal situation, finding himself in Arizona after 2015 training camp came to an end. Barkley’s time in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly can be considered a failure but it was Barkley who felt rejuvenated after trading the City of Brotherly Love for the Valley of the Sun. Barkley has thrown 0 regular season TD passes to date but when we evaluate his exhibition tape we see a quarterback who sees the field fairly well and shows excellent understanding of how to manipulate a defense to his liking. Barkley uses his eyes very well in holding deep defenders in order to throw the ball down the field, especially when he is throwing outside the hash-marks. Matt has a refined sense to how he operates under center, the term “savvy” comes to mind when describing his game and he is a natural thrower of the football.
To say Barkley has a future as an NFL starter would be considered optimistic because he flat out has a weak arm. Barkley has below average to average arm strength and may be a lingering side effect of the nasty collarbone injury he suffered during his senior year at USC. Expect Barkley to play quite a bit this pre-season which will be a key test in determining if he has a future as a potential starter in the league.
#6 Jake Coker 6’5” 236 Rookie, Alabama
Jake Coker signed with Arizona as an un-drafted free agent. Coker started his college career as the quarterback of the future for a brief period at Florida State before Jameis Winston stepped foot in Tallahassee. Coker dusted himself off and transferred to Alabama where he became a 5th Year starter for the powerhouse program. Coker performed well during his only season as a starter in 2015. He threw for 3,100 yards and 21 TD’s with a 67% completion percentage. Coker player his best football as the season progressed and the Crimson Tide offense was revolving around him near season’s end. Throwing with touch, displaying solid fundamentals and using his athleticism/running ability are three areas in which Coker excelled at when we turn on his college tape. Coker’s release will need to be quickened up at the next level but he has the raw materials needed to become a developmental prospect for the Cardinals and already is creating a buzz within the organization.