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Cardinals mull over quarterback, other needs before draft

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals' smooth-operating offense has been ugly since Kurt Warner's retirement, and they're in need of a quarterback.

Whether they use the fifth overall pick in next week's NFL draft to get one is uncertain. They probably would prefer a veteran quarterback and have so many needs elsewhere.

Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller would provide much-needed help for a pass rush that was among the worst in the NFL, but he could be gone, to the Buffalo Bills at No. 3 the most-speculated destination.

That could leave Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert an irresistible pick. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, previously had some pretty good results with a rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger.

"Look at what (Sam) Bradford and (Matt) Ryan and (Joe) Flacco have done the last couple of years," Whisenhunt said. "They've gone in there and played and done well."

If the Cardinals are to address their quarterback situation via free agency or trade, that will have to wait for a resolution to the collective bargaining situation. Possibilities include signing a free agent, such as Marc Bulger, or making a trade, perhaps with the Philadelphia Eagles for Kevin Kolb.

Given the depth at quarterback in the draft, the Cardinals could pick one in the second round, long after Heisman Trophy winner Cam Netwon and Gabbert are gone.

"We've said that that's a position that we feel is important that we address," Whisenhunt said. "There's going to be avenues for us to address it. This is the first opportunity that we've had, and if it's the right fit for us, then by all means."

After going 5-11, a big step back after consecutive NFC West championships, needs are many, including on the offensive line, at inside linebacker and in the secondary.

Bill Davis became the second defensive coordinator fired by Whisenhunt in his four years in Arizona. Ray Horton is the latest to try to breathe some fire and efficiency into the 3-4 system. The Cardinals brought in Joey Porter at outside linebacker, but the veteran was well past his prime, and the position is high on the list of areas needed to be dealt with in the draft.

That brings up Miller, the Butkus Award winner who led the nation in sacks and added to his notoriety by becoming one of the plaintiffs in lawsuits against the NFL over the league's lockout. But Miller is coveted by the Bills, maybe others, ahead of Arizona. North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn could be an option, although there is some trepidation because he sat out last season for NCAA rule violations.

Other possibilities include LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.

But the talk with Arizona always goes back to quarterback.

The Cardinals have held extensive meetings with Newton and Gabbert. Gabbert is seen as the more pro-ready of the two and could be Arizona's pick even if Newton still is available.

The Cardinals also have been known to trade down. Of course, nobody was offering any hints in the front office.

"Nothing," general manager Rod Graves said, "is off the board."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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