Draft aftermath and the seventh-rounder

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2011 – 7:15 pm

So the Cards finish up not with Mr. Irrelevant but close (five choices came after the Cardinals’ final pick) in San Diego State wide receiver DeMarco Sampson. Sampson is a big guy (6-foot-2, 204), with some speed (Whisenhunt said he ran a 4.41 this offseason) and a chance to add to the position that has some uncertainty in terms of contracts.

Otherwise, here are some other last thoughts after the last day:

— The wait for undrafted rookies now must wait – usually, the land rush to those guys has already started – until the current labor limbo is fixed. “We are going through our process of preparing to sign our (rookie) free agents like we normally would, except we’re not putting that plan into action until we’re allowed to do so,” GM Rod Graves said. “We’re taking it right up to the final step in the process.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cards are attractive to UDFAs for a couple of reasons. He said the Cards actually pay decent signing bonuses for such things, which obviously grabs attention of players. More importantly, the Cards have shown they will keep UDFAs on the roster, and ultimately, that’s what those guys want.

— No offensive linemen drafted (for a second draft in a row), but I will guess there will be a couple or three undrafted rookies and some aggressiveness in free agency. Whenever that is.

— There will be plenty of time to assess what the picks mean for guys already on the roster at those positions (running back, for one). But the selection of a pass rusher not until the fourth round not only says something about who was on the board, it says something about O’Brien Schofield, the 2010 fourth-round pick who would have been higher if not for a postseason knee injury.

“It’s very, very difficult what he did, to not have played a snap (coming off knee surgery), come in and practice for a couple of weeks and then be playing,” Whisenhunt said. “(It) means he had to put a lot of time and effort into preparing. That’s what we really think is going to give him a chance.

— Inside linebacker Quan Sturdivant wears No. 52 in honor of a couple of his heroes, Ravens LB Ray Lewis and Panthers LB Jon Beason. Beason, Sturdivant said, was his model. “He’s not that big. He’s fast, instinctive, strong and makes plays, so I kind of like his game.”

— Speaking of uniform numbers, Sturdivant I’m sure wants 52, but right now, that is owned by LB Cyril Obiozor. I know new cornerback Patrick Peterson wants No. 21. But be cautioned (for anyone wanting to run out and buy jerseys), numbers aren’t in concrete yet. Veterans usually get first dibs and until there is a free-agency process at some point, uniform numbers will remain fluid.

— No quarterback, no real surprise, quite frankly. Just never got the sense the whole draft run-up they’d be looking in that direction.

–Defensive end David Carter may have been “all cried out” after an emotional day, but he sounded just fine on his conference call. So in the end, call-wise, he still can’t hold a candle to the Hyphen.

And finally …

— Whisenhunt broke out some draft humor after the team took linebacker Sam Acho from Texas.

“We’re going to make a request from the league he can wear No. 5 so we’ll have an Acho Cinco on our team,” Whisenhunt deadpanned.

Graves wasn’t going to let that go. “I wasn’t a part of that,” Graves said.

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Cards go DE with other sixth-rounder

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2011 – 1:34 pm

With their second sixth-round pick, the Cards took UCLA defensive end David Carter (6-4, 297) who had 3.5 sacks last season. He played nose tackle last season for the Bruins, but he will be a developmental defensive end in the 3-4 for the Cards. He went 10 picks after brother Chris, who was taken by the Steelers, setting off a huge celebration at the Carter household.

“This is crazy,” David Carter said. “I’ve never cried so hard in my life. I was crying for my brother because I know how hard he worked and I thought I was all cried out. Then I got picked. I thought, ‘Dang, I’m going to be dehydrated.’ ”

Carter said he thinks the two DE positions in the 3-4 are his natural spots. He did take a visit to Arizona before the draft, and said he thought all along either the Raiders or Cards would pick him. Now he will vie for a spot backing up Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, important with Alan Branch and Kenny Iwebema with expiring contracts. Ken Whisenhunt likes his versatility to eventually be part of the d-line rotation. “With a guy like him, he’s really what scouting is all about,” Whisenhunt said of finding Carter.

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First sixth-round pick is LB Sturdivant

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2011 – 12:54 pm

The Cardinals used the first of two sixth-round draft picks on inside linebacker Quan Sturdivant from North Carolina. Sturdivant, 6-foot-1 and 241 pounds, was part of the Tar Heel team ravaged from suspensions, and he was one of the ones investigated for improper dealings with agents (he was cleared ). He also battled a hamstring injury for five weeks.

But in eight games he had 61 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. In his career, he had 27.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries, and looks like a good pickup considering he was thought of as a third- or fourth-round pick and some even believed he could go in the second round. With Gerald Hayes unlikely to return next year, the Cards needed depth on the inside behind Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington.

“With his desire and love for the game,” general manager Rod Graves said, “we are excited to get him where we got him.”

Sturdivant said he “made a bad decision” last summer — he was cited for marijuana possession, although the charges were dropped — and he said that probably cost him in the draft. “It’s been a little tough,” Sturdivant said of waiting to be drafted. “But now that I have a chance to play with the Cardinals, I’m excited.” Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Cards investigated his arrest but are satisfied it was just a mistake, and Whiz added he liked the idea of how much support Sturdivant got (while battling his bad hamstring) at Carolina’s pro day from his other teammates, indicating players like to play with him. He will compete for the strong-side inside spot manned by Lenon.

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Fifth round goes to a fullback

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2011 – 11:19 am

The Cards went with UConn fullback Anthony Sherman in the fifth round. It’s a position they’ve been looking for since losing Terrelle Smith after the Super Bowl season. He’s considered a good blocker, even in pass protection, and a good special-teams player (important given the probable loss of Jason Wright). Sherman is 5-10 and 240. His Pro Football Weekly summary (which listed him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick): “A hardworking, assignment-sound fullback with starting-caliber toughness, physicality and blocking ability.” He’s also a guy who can catch passes.

Sherman called himself a “lunchpail player.” With Nehemiah Broughton coming off a third major knee surgery and the team looking to upgrade over Reagan Maui’a, it’s not a shocking choice.

“You gotta have a couple screws loose to be a fullback,” Sherman said. “I don’t know if everyone can do it, but there are a few of us doing it every day out here.”

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Cards finally nab pass rusher in Acho

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2011 – 9:25 am

The Cardinals begin the final day of the draft by getting a pass rusher they needed in Texas linebacker Sam Acho in the fourth round. At 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds, Acho is going to have a transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4, but as a senior, he had nine sacks, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He was also a three-time all-academic selection in the Big 12.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he is a ‘tweener, not quite an OLB but not quite a DE. But with O’Brien Schofield and Will Davis already around (along with veterans Clark Haggans and Joey Porter for now), Acho could be a pass rusher only at first until he is ready for something bigger.

Acho said he actually played OLB the first two years of college before moving to defensive end, so he expects to be able to make the transition. Interestingly, he said he had no specific contact with the Cardinals before the draft, so he was a little surprised. But Acho — who comes across as smart as his resume indicates — clearly is happy to be coming to Arizona.

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Tight end Housler becomes third pick

Posted by Darren Urban on April 29, 2011 – 5:57 pm

The Cardinals took tight end Rob Housler out of Florida Atlantic in the third round. Housler came on as a senior and showed well at the combine. He had 39 receptions for 629 yards and four touchdowns last season. NFL Network’s Charles Davis said he reminds him of the Giants’ Kevin Boss. He is athletic, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 248 pounds. He is married with a child too.

Ben Patrick, whose contract is up, seems unlikely to return. The other Cards’ tight ends are Jim Dray and Stephen Spach, so it was a need. Pro Football Weekly said he can catch in a crowd, and he is fast (4.46 was one of his timed 40s).

Housler said the Cards were a team that had showed interest in him pre-draft. He acknowledged he has to work on his blocking — a conversation he already had with Ken Whisenhunt — but he can “get open and stretch the field.”

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Cards take RB Ryan Williams in second

Posted by Darren Urban on April 29, 2011 – 3:46 pm

Well, there’s a curveball from the Cardinals, as they spend their second-round pick on Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams. Jason Wright is likely retiring but the Cards still have Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower (whose contract has expired) and LaRod Stephens-Howling. You figured they needed a back, but a surprise in the second, especially since they are clearly still looking for a pass rusher. You also wonder how much Hightower’s lingering fumble issues could be in play.

Williams is called a “supercompetitive multi-purpose back” by Pro Football Weekly, who also note he “runs too hard” as a negative (I always thought that was a plus, right?).

We’ll have to wait for press conference later to get a better picture. But again, they always say they want to take best player available. You have to assume that’s what they did.

UPDATE: Williams just said during his pre-draft visit to Tempe, the Cards told him they hoped he’d fall to them in the second round at pick No. 38, and if he did, he’d be a Cardinal. So I guess this wasn’t a surprise to anyone in the know.

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Workouts, for now

Posted by Darren Urban on April 29, 2011 – 10:51 am

A handful of players came in, as promised, to work out this morning — among them, DRC, Levi Brown, Andre Roberts, Jeremy Bridges and Rex Hadnot. They were all thrilled to be around, although Brown joked that John Lott’s bear crawl work got him pretty good. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he said.

How long it lasts is unknown. A temporary stay sounds like it’s coming from the court system, which would put everything on hold for a while. (UPDATE: Reports were that a temporary stay was granted, although nothing official has been said yet). But the guys around looked pretty good. DRC said he put on about eight pounds of muscle and he looks it. Wide receivers Stephen Williams and Roberts also clearly look stronger than they did as rookies.

“It feels great,” DRC said. “Every time you see coach Lott, he puts a smile on your face. More importantly, it’s good to see my dogs again.”

Lott, who has wanted players around obviously, looked thrilled and the coaches that came down to say hello also were happy. General manager Rod Graves made sure to go around and shake the hand of every player who was there.

“It’s just good to be back,” Bridges said. “You really can’t control what is going on.”

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Players to work out Friday morning

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2011 – 6:40 pm

During his press conference talking about the pick of Patrick Peterson, coach Ken Whisenhunt said — with the in-flux labor situation currently opening a window for players to work out — that the team has talked to a number of players and he expects some to come in Friday morning for the first off-season strength and conditioning work.

“It will be exciting to have guys at the facility,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s nice to have contact with these guys immediately. We got a number of calls and communication from players, and that’s exciting. When your players say they want to be here working out, I know they didn’t miss (strength and conditioning coach) John Lott, but they say they want to work out and that’s a good thing.”

Whisenhunt said he doesn’t know how many will come, since he knows many are out of town and this resolution — however tenuous it might be — just happened.

“It’s short notice,” Whisenhunt said. “Whatever we get tomorrow I will be excited. They are here working out. It’s hard to imagine … who knows if they are even around. It’s not something I am concerned about. Whoever shows up, I will be happy about.”

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Cardinals take Peterson number one

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2011 – 5:36 pm

There will be much more soon, but the Cardinals got LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson with their first round pick, a player who many thought was the best player available in the draft.

Peterson said he is “shocked” but he is wearing a red tie and red handkerchief, so how shocked can he be?

Knowing coach Ken Whisenhunt, I wouldn’t expect Peterson to be anointed a starter, not with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler around. But Toler likely will be the long-term nickel guy with Peterson and DRC as eventual starting tandem. Peterson can be a punt returner too, and maybe kickoffs (although I keep the Hyphen there if it’s me).

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