With the draft beginning tomorrow evening, had a chance to touch base with coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves for a few final thoughts as the Cards are finished – basically – with the pre-draft work.
– Whisenhunt figures the number of calls the Cards have received about the fifth pick and trading have been about the same. “You have to weed through them, because some of them are just exploratory, and some are serious,” Whisenhunt said. I can’t say there are more or less. We really won’t know until (Thursday) which are serious, because there are a couple that may get more serious when we get closer to (the draft).”
Graves said the calls have slowed over the last 24 hours. But anyone who wants to call will be heard. “What we try to do is keep our options open,” Graves said, acknowledging a trade-up is “less likely” than a trade down.
If the Cards do move, it’s got to be done smartly. “Once you start talking about moving, you just never know who is going to be there,” Whisenhunt said. “Once you talk about moving back to get a certain player, there is no guarantee. You have to have a range where you know you are looking at a couple of guys where you have to have a strategy.”
The Cards have gone through as many scenarios as they could. Sometimes, it doesn’t mean much. Last year, Whisenhunt said, “we didn’t think there was any way” nose tackle Dan Williams was going to drop to the 26th pick, but then he did. Because the Cards are picking fifth this year, the focus on a smaller group of players is “more intense” but it is still harder to get a read on how the draft will play out, even when talking the first four picks.
“Usually we have had free agency,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s a little easier to target what team’s needs are because they have addressed some things in free agency. Let’s say, if you have assessed a team’s needs at five, if they have been through free agency, they had addressed two of those. It’s different this year from that standpoint, because you don’t know what team’s priorities are as much as you might in the past.”
Graves thinks generally, the absence of free agency before the draft means teams will be more likely to draft for need. But for the Cards, he noted, “best player available will drive a lot of our thinking.”
Finally, for everyone wondering about the Cards and taking a quarterback fifth, here is Whisenhunt’s final words on the subject, emphasizing again it depends on the assessment the team has given the prospect (which, conventional wisdom says, will be Blaine Gabbert when we are talking about the fifth pick).
“There is not a cut and dried way to say, this guy can do it or this guy can’t,” Whisenhunt said. “I think we have spent a lot of time with these guys this year, looked at a lot of tape, that’s part of the assessment. Taking a player at the fifth pick, you’d like a guy to make an immediate impact and we need it after going 5-11 last year. But you also have to look at the other areas where you could address it because we have also said that’s an area that is important to address this offseason. You have to weigh those things.”
Tags: draft, Ken Whisenhunt, Rod Graves
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