Bruce Arians knows a smart football mind when he sees one.

Two of his protégés -- Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck -- are considered among the brightest quarterbacks in football history. And Arians thinks the Arizona Cardinals' current quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, is just as smart as Manning and Luck.

"Yeah, he's up there," Arians said. "To play at this level in seven offenses is not easy, and he's had success, especially in this offense. But yeah, he's up there with those guys mentally."

Gabbert's football intelligence drew the attention of Arians and other Cardinals coaches during the first few months after he signed as a free agent in early May. Gabbert quickly picked up Arians' complex scheme. By training camp and the preseason, he was picking up the intricacies of the system.

"You don't just come in, change protections, see your hots and sights and all the things that he has done so fast," Arians said. "He sees the exotic looks. He's starting to know how to pick them up, how to get out there and make plays."

And by the time Gabbert started his first game for the Cardinals in Week 11 against the Houston Texans, he had not only a fairly firm command of the offense but he was comfortable enough with the scheme to direct others.