The Cardinals will consider the possibility today as the club hosts the former Notre Dame quarterback on a pre-draft visit, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Palmer has thrown for more than 4,000 yards for the Cardinals over each of the last two seasons, and led the team to the NFC title game after the 2015 season. But at age 37, it could be time for the club invest a high draft choice in an understudy at the position. Arizona will host another top quarterback prospect, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, on a pre-draft visit Wednesday, and has also conducted a private workout with Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes.
“Jaron always makes plays,” coach Bruce Arians raved in August. “He’s very physical for a wideout. Great special teams player. Put in the right system, he could be a solid ‘3’ or ‘2.’ We never hesitate throwing him the ball in a clutch situation.”
With Michael Floyd due to reach free agency and Larry Fitzgerald settling into the year-to-year portion of his Hall of Fame career, Brown offers insurance at the position for the 2017 season.
Of those four clubs, the 49ers have the greatest immediate need for a quarterback, though the Bills, Cardinals and Chiefs could be interested in a rookie quarterback to develop as a starter for the future. Clubs are known for misdirection at this time of year to cloud their draft intentions, but Pegula’s presence at the workouts of Trubisky and Kizer would suggest a credible level of seriousness in the former Tar Heels star by the Bills.
Watson, Trubisky, Kizer and cheap jerseys and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes are regarded as the draft’s top four quarterback prospects. Which will be selected first, however, is a tough projection. NFL.com analyst David Carr wrote last week that Trubisky is the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock ranks Kizer, because of his long-term potential, as the best of the group, while NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly projects Watson as the first QB selected, to the Chiefs at No. 27 overall.
Over the last two years, only 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack (26.0) and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller (24.5) have more sacks than Jones’ 23.5. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Jones, Miller and J.J. Watt are the only players with at least 40 sacks and 60 QB hits.
Although keeping Jones is the top priority, the Cardinals still have work to do ahead of the new league year on March 9. Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Tony Jefferson are all due to reach the open market barring last-minute agreements with Arizona.
Might the two clubs see things the same way? Both traveled to Lubbock for a private workout with Mahomes earlier this month, and the Saints remarked to Mahomes about his impressive progress afterward. As for Mahomes’ workout Friday, Mayock saw both positives and negatives.
“The big-arm throws that most quarterbacks don’t like to make: 20-yard comeback, cover-2, throw in between the corner and the safety — he threw both of those beautifully,” Mayock said. “The deep, outbreaking routes where you really got to drive it, he was outstanding. Now, some of the throws he struggled with, I thought he was more concerned about his new footwork and mechanics and forgot to drive the football.”
The slightly built, 5-foot-9 Ellington spent his first four seasons in Arizona as a running back, but proved to be better in the passing game than run game. In the one season the Cards tried to make Ellington the featured back, he dealt with injuries and proved to be inefficient between the tackles. After 201 totes in 2014, he saw just 45 carries in 2015 and 34 last season as David Johnson took over the every-down role.
Ellington has speed in open space and can catch the ball — 112 receptions in four seasons — but how he translates to running routes as a receiver and his ability to beat press coverage remains to be seen. His build is already in line with the fast, smallish receivers that clutter the Cardinals’ wideout corps — John Brown (5-foot-10), J.J. Nelson (5-foot-10).