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NFL power rankings: Arizona Cardinals just outside top 10 in future rankings

The team is in a good place now and looking ahead, but the QB situation needs to be addressed

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At this point of the offseason, we have reached the point where ESPN puts together power rankings -- but it isn't just any power rankings. These rankings are more complex and are "future power rankings." A panel of experts consider each team's roster, its QB situation, its work in the draft, its front office and its coaching.

In this year's rankings, the Arizona Cardinals fall just outside the top 10, coming in 11th.

11. Arizona Cardinals

2014 record: 11-5 (Lost in wild card)

NFC West future rank: 2nd

Overall score: 72.4

The bar graphs reflect the average rating given by the voters for each category. Category averages are weighted by importance to generate overall score.

The overview: The Cardinals made their biggest gains in drafting (21st to eighth) and coaching (16th to fourth) as general manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians validated early successes with another strong year. The organization also signed both to contract extensions, setting a foundation for the future. The big question is whether Carson Palmer can return to previous form following another knee surgery, but in Arians, the organization has an offensive-minded head coach who seems to think he can build a winning plan around just about any viable quarterback. --Mike Sando

The dilemma: I said a year ago that as Palmer goes, so goes the fortunes of this franchise. Unfortunately, 2014 proved me to be right: Without Palmer in the lineup from Weeks 11-17, the team went 3-4, culminating with an embarrassing loss in the postseason where, with Ryan Lindley under center, they totaled 78 total net yards of offense against the Panthers. Right now, there doesn't seem to be a realistic succession plan for Palmer, which is worrisome considering he turns 36 this season and is coming off a torn ACL. How the quarterback position is handled going forward will continue to determine whether or not this team can mount a serious, sustained challenge to the kings of the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks--Louis Riddick

The youth movement: Keim did well in 2013 with the selections of Tyrann MathieuAlex Okafor and Andre Ellington, along with undrafted linebackerKenny Demens and safety Tony Jefferson. But after two years and only two starts, guard Jonathan Cooper, the seventh pick in the 2013 draft, needs to become a factor at right guard. Likewise, it's time for 2013 second-rounderKevin Minter to become starting material at inside linebacker. Deone Bucannon's solid rookie season overshadowed some of the struggles from his fellow 2014 draftees. The Cardinals are still hoping second-round tight end Troy Niklas comes around and third-rounder Kareem Martin successfully makes the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker. --John Clayton

You can see they dropped in overall score in a year, but that is because of the situation at quarterback. Carson Palmer is a year older, coming off of a major knee injury and with no apparent prospect for the future. That is completely understandable, even if Palmer could viably play a few more years.

They increased their score in all other categories except the roster, and many consider the losses of Antonio Cromartie and Dan Williams to be notable to significant.

In the NFC West, they are ranked second. The Seattle Seahawks were second overall, St. Louis Rams were 17th and the San Francisco 49ers came in 22nd.