2018 could finally be the year that the Arizona Cardinals draft their quarterback of the future -- but they may have to make a big trade in order to make it happen.
The Cardinals have reportedly shown interested in every all five QBs who are likely to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. The catch: At least four of those five are projected to be drafted before the Cardinals' first-round pick, which is set at No. 15 overall. Will the Cards pull the trigger on a trade in order to get their guy?
Here's the list of quarterbacks (in alphabetical order) likely to go early in this year's draft, all of which have been linked to the Cardinals in some shape or form. Click on each QB's name to view his NFL.com draft profile.
NFL insider Benjamin Allbright said the Cards are among teams interested in moving up in order to acquire Allen, and FOX Sports' Joel Klatt apparently believes the same.
Joel Klatt of Fox Sports: I hear that the Arizona Cardinals absolutely love Josh Allen.
— Johnny (@JohnnysFootball) March 28, 2018
NFL.com calls Allen a "late bloomer" who began his collegiate career at the community college level. Per his draft profile, Allen is likely to be "the biggest boom-or-bust quarterback prospect" in this year's draft. "Allen's size and arm talent are prototypical for early first-round picks, but it's rare to find a quarterback with such a low college completion rate become a successful pro," NFL.com says.
When Darnold worked out at USC during his Pro Day last month, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, general manager Steve Keim, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich were all in attendance. The Cards were reportedly just one of five teams on hand, along with the Browns, Giants, Jets and Chargers.
Darnold threw 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions while completing 64.9 percent of his passes in 27 games as the Trojans' starting quarterback. He guided USC to the 2017 Pac-12 championship and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. "His floor is solid starter, but he has the ceiling to be one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the game as he gains more experience," NFL.com says.
Jackson is possibly the only quarterback on this list whom the Cardinals won't have to trade up for in order to draft, as the other four QBs are all likely to be selected ahead of him. But Jackson would hardly be a consolation prize; he's a former Heisman Trophy-winning QB who rushed for 50 touchdowns in his three years as a starter at Louisville, while also contributing 69 passing TDs.
A number of NFL Draft experts believe the Cardinals will select Jackson with the 15th overall pick if they are unwilling or unable to trade up in the draft. "While Jackson might need time to address his erratic ball placement, the long-term payoff of a backfield featuring the Heisman Trophy winner and David Johnson might be too tantalizing to pass up," USA Today's Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote last month.
Speaking of Heisman-winning QBs: Enter Mayfield, who won the 2017 award just nine years after fellow Sooner Sam Bradford did. The Cardinals reportedly met with Mayfield on April 18, the final day in which teams were allowed to meet with prospective draft picks.
Mayfield is coming off an incredible 2017 season when he accounted for 48 total touchdowns (43 passing, five rushing). At 6-foot-1, he's shorter than most QBs, and his emotions have sometimes gotten the best of him on the field. But "Mayfield's ability to process, extend plays and throw with accuracy give him a good shot," according to NFL.com.
The Cardinals reportedly met with Rosen in late March, and the latest mock draft from CBS Sports has the Cards trading with the Jets to move up to the No. 6 overall pick in order to obtain his services.
"Josh Rosen's footwork and mechanics make him as pretty a quarterback as you will find in this year's draft," according to NFL.com. "The biggest concern with Rosen is that his on-field success requires many elements to stay on schedule."