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Offseason notes: Is Arians playing smoke screen with Cards' QBs?

Arizona QB issues

I voted for Bruce Arians for coach of the year in 2012 after he led the Colts to the playoffs as Chuck Pagano battled cancer. His reward: His first head coaching job in the NFL.

Now Arians is working on a smoke screen leading up to the draft by telling everyone he likes the quarterbacks already on the Cardinals' roster. However, those quarterbacks are Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.

As a group, they:

  • Are a combined 4-14 as pro starters.
  • Have career totals of nine TD passes, 28 INTs and 50 sacks.

The group's TD-to-attempts ratio of 1 every 73 throws equates to a touchdown pass every two games if Arians sticks with one of this group. It gets better. Last season the Arizona offensive line gave up 58 sacks and this group of signal callers has been sacked once every 14 attempts over their careers.

Stanton sounds like the leading candidate, but in six NFL seasons, he's started only four games. As the draft approaches, it's going to be very difficult to pass on Geno Smith or Matt Barkley in the first round in hopes of selecting someone else in the second.

When I was at the Jets we waited until the second round to go after Brett Favre and missed by one pick. The Falcons grabbed him right in front of us. We ended up with Browning Nagle

How bout that Seahawks' pass rush?

When the Seahawks have all four pass rushers healthy enough to play together it could be a big problem for the opposition. Eventually Chris Clemons will get back on the field and Seattle will not have to blitz to get to quarterbacks.

How will they get the four best rushers on the field considering only one (Michael Bennett) is really suited for the inside over a guard? Look for Cliff Avril at left end, Bennett inside over the center or a guard, Clemons at the right end and Bruce Irvin playing the "spinner" role. The "spinner" stands up and moves during the snap count, meaning he could rush from anywhere.

Most NFL teams know Pete Carroll has run this scheme before, one head coach is taking special notice: "That Seattle spinner package will be a major problem for teams visiting Seattle," the coach said. "The O-line has to constantly communicate about where the spinner is and where he might cross the line of scrimmage. It won't be easy up in that stadium and it's going to put a lot of stress on the offensive line."

Chiefs' Albert controls his trade status

Brandon Albert is on the trading block per the wishes of the Chiefs organization, but Albert is more in control of his status than is the club.

Right now, he's on a one-year franchise tag for guaranteed price of $9.8 million. For a team to trade for him they need to pony up for a long-term deal or use $9.8 million of salary cap space. Right now, only 13 teams even have that much space under the salary cap without cutting players or restructuring contracts. If a team traded for him without a long-term deal (highly unlikely), Albert could force the team to use a franchise tag again next year which would hit the salary cap for $11.78 million.

Albert knows he's going to make $21 million over the next two years without agreeing to any contract. The next pressure point regarding an Albert trade is the quality of offensive tackles in this draft. Will teams cough up a five-year deal that averages $8 million to $10 million a season for Albert after the Vikings drafted Matt Kalil last year in the first round -- signing him to a four-year, $20 million deal?

At least four teams will draft an offensive tackle in the first round, taking all of them out of the Brandon Albert sweepstakes.

Plays behind the line of scrimmage

Sacks are great, but making plays behind the line of scrimmage (including sacks and tackles for a loss) tells us more about a defensive player's ability.

Key and diagnose -- or the ability to read the offense and react quickly -- is a part of making negative plays.

Technique, explosion and the ability to close on an opponent are also critical elements. Here's a look at the top 10 players in the draft making plays behind the line of scrimmage and their per game average. Some are from smaller schools, and this list is not a ranking, but does have the best frequency on a per game basis.

Plays Behind Line of Scrimmage/Per Game Average
Jarvis JonesGeorgiaOLB2845.573.52.16
David BassMissouri SoDE40.55696.51.93
Brandon WilliamsMissouri SoDT2752.5801.90
Damontre MooreTexas A&MDE26.54571.51.88
Brandon JenkinsFlorida StDE22.537.5601.50
Chris JonesBowling GreenDT2846.574.51.49
Chase ThomasStanfordOLB27.550.5781.47
Bjoern WernerFlorida StDE23.53558.51.42
Trevardo WilliamsU ConnOLB30.540.5711.42
Kwann ShortPurdueDT19.549691.38

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