Each Cardinals pick analyzed: Future set with QB Rosen

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While Steve Keim was recently referencing the 2013 trade that brought quarterback Carson Palmer from the Raiders to the Arizona Cardinals for what basically amounted to a seventh-round pick, the general manager noted that someone wrote Arizona got Palmer for "a ham sandwich."

If that was the case five years ago, then the Cardinals fleeced the Raiders again this year by trading up five spots to steal UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen with the 10th overall pick for nothing more than a pizza and a plate of wings.

In the 6-foot-4 Rosen, a three-year starter for the Bruins, the Cardinals finally found their franchise quarterback of the future and all it cost them was a third- and fifth-round pick in this year's draft. To give up so little for one of the top four quarterback prospects in this year's class and the one that all scouts agree is the most NFL-ready, that's almost grand larceny.

The Cardinals hadn't drafted a quarterback higher than the fourth round since they selected Matt Leinart 10th overall in 2006. Even though he acquired veterans Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon as free agents this offseason following Palmer's decision to retire, Keim knew he needed to draft a young quarterback who had a chance to eventually be the team's long-term fix.

But would he draft one at the expense of selling the farm and potentially setting the franchise back three to five years if he gave up too much and the quarterback didn't pan out?

Turns out, he didn't have to mortgage the future at all.

"To be able to go from 15 to 10 and give up what we did, we were extremely comfortable with," Keim said. "Coach (Steve Wilks), (president) Michael (Bidwill), and I talked about it. Again, being able to still preserve our second-round pick and not giving up future ones was extremely important to all of us."

Bradford is still expected to be Arizona's starting quarterback, but Wilks raised some eyebrows after the pick of Rosen when he didn't throw his full support behind Bradford.

"The best 11 guys are going to go out there and play," Wilks said. "When we acquired Sam, we got Sam to be our starting quarterback and I would still say that is the case. When Sam is healthy, he's one of the best that we've seen around. We're very excited about Josh and what he can bring, but every position is open for competition. When we line up against Washington for the first game of the season, the best 11 guys will go out there and start."

Mike McCoy, the Cardinals' offensive coordinator, said Rosen has the talent and skills to be able to start right away, assuming the Cardinals' quarterback room was bare.

"He is a natural passer and that's the one thing you see in all the film you watch," McCoy said. "It's effortless for him to go out there and throw the football. He just goes out there and makes it look easy. He's had a great career and I think it will carry over to here. ... He's got a bright future in the league."

Rosen said he plans to always put the team ahead of himself and will sit, watch and learn if he is asked to play behind both Bradford and Glennon. That's quite a compromise for an outspoken quarterback who ripped the nine teams that passed on him when he said, "Nine mistakes were made ahead of me and I will make sure over the next decade or so that they made a mistake."

"First and foremost, I'm an Arizona Cardinal. It's team before everything," Rosen said. "I want to help the team win in absolutely any possible way that I can. ... Maybe if it's four, five, six years down the road and I'm not starting, I might get a little bit antsy. But at least for the time being, I'm going to do whatever (McCoy) asks me to do to the absolute best of my ability.

"I'm not going to be the guy that comes in and thinks he's the man from Day 1."

A closer look at the Cardinals' picks:

Round 1/10 - Josh Rosen, QB, 6-4, 218, UCLA

In trading up five spots with the Raiders and sending a third- and fifth-round pick to Oakland, the Cardinals may have gotten the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft in Rosen. There are some durability concerns and Rosen isn't afraid to speak his mind, but the Cardinals absolutely love him. It's a move general manager Steve Keim had to make after passing on top-notch quarterbacks during every one of his previous five seasons in charge of the club. Rosen is Arizona's franchise quarterback and although veteran Sam Bradford will likely begin the season as the starter, Rosen will compete for the opportunity, according to new head coach Steve Wilks.

Round 2/47 - Christian Kirk, WR, 5-11, 200, Texas A&M

Arizona filled two needs in selecting Kirk in the second round. Not only is he a capable wide receiver who can step in and contribute from the slot position right away, but he's also a very dangerous return man on punts and kickoffs. A local product out of Scottsdale Saguaro High School, where he was named the state's player of the year as a senior, Kirk started as a freshman at A&M and in three seasons there, caught 229 passes for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also scored six other times on punt and kick returns.

Round 3/97 - Mason Cole, C/G, 6-4, 307, Michigan

Cole was the first true freshman to ever start a season-opening game on the offensive line in Michigan history. He went on to start 51 straight games for the Wolverines, the most ever by an offensive lineman. He never missed a practice in four years, either. Cole, who also made 53 consecutive starts in high school, played center, guard and tackle while at Michigan and should provide accountable versatility to the Cardinals. It's not like they don't need the depth. Though he started at tackle all last season as a senior, Cole projects more as a swing lineman at both guard spots and at center.

Round 4/134 - Chase Edmonds, RB, 5-9, 205, Fordham

After releasing Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson and losing Kerwynn Williams to free agency, the Cardinals were in dire need of adding some depth at running back and they might have found just that and more in Edmonds, who runs and plays much bigger than his size. He should be able to contribute right away on special teams and could be an extra weapon as a third-down gadget back. He likely won't get many regular carries, however, as David Johnson remains the Cardinals' bell cow. Edmonds could still surprise after closing out his career as the Patriot League's all-time leading rusher (5,862 yards) and all-time leader in touchdowns (74), including rushing touchdowns (67).

Round 6/182 - Chris Campbell, CB, 6-1, 195, Penn State

The Cardinals didn't address their defense in the draft until this pick and in Campbell, they got a very athletic corner with great size and decent speed. There was a need at cornerback, too, with the departures of free agents Tramon Williams and Justin Bethel. The Cardinals have been looking for a starter to play opposite Patrick Peterson seemingly every year and perhaps in time, Campbell will mature into that type of player. Chances are, however, they will still be looking for a complementary component for Peterson.

Round 7/254 - Korey Cunningham, T, 6-6, 305, Cincinnati

With the third-to-last pick in the draft, the Cardinals stayed with their theme of the draft and went offense for the fifth time in their six picks overall. Cunningham, who began his collegiate career as a tight end, has the size, but he's going to be a project. He needs to vastly improve his run blocking and pick up better hand techniques to make it at the next level. Cunningham does provide some much-needed depth along the offensive line and will have to earn his way onto the roster as a swing tackle.


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