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To WR or not WR? That is question

Posted by Darren Urban on March 6, 2017 – 10:31 am

A year ago, the Cardinals had no better unit that their wide receiver corps. Larry Fitzgerald had an excellent season. Smokey Brown was a 1,000-yard pass catcher. Michael Floyd piled up 100-yard games down the stretch. J.J. Nelson was a big-play rookie, and even Jaron Brown and Brittan Golden had proven to have moments.

It’s different now. Fitz was still excellent in 2016. But Smokey got sick, and Floyd all but disappeared before being released. Nelson came on, but Jaron Brown got hurt. Questions at the position swirl, both for 2017 and the future given Fitz’s vague countdown to retirement sooner rather than later. That’s the backdrop the Cardinals have going into both free agency later this week, and into next month’s draft.

“It’s an interesting deal when you look at your depth chart every year and you think that’s really one of your strengths,” General Manager Steve Keim said of the arc of his wide receivers from season to season. “It always teaches you a lesson that you can never have enough good football players at one position because injuries, different things that can occur during a season (that) depleted the wide receiver corps this year.

“It goes back to show you, you may have a guy who is fourth or fifth on the depth chart, but you have to be comfortable when you head into the season that ‘I may be playing with this guy.’ Not only from a mental aspect but you have to feel he can get the job done physically as well.”

Coach Bruce Arians likes getting the smaller, fast wide receivers in the later rounds. But post-Fitz the Cards figure to need a bigger receiver. Maybe they seek someone in free agency, but if everyone is healthy, the Cards could conceivably roll this season with this corps intact. If someone pops up in the draft, you can think about that move.

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25 Responses to “To WR or not WR? That is question”

  1. By Big Ken on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Evan Engram has had a great combine. Listed and worked with the TE’s but played WR at Ole Miss. 2nd rounder for the Cardinals?

  2. By D on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    This is the reason why taking the Clemson WR at #13 bothers me. If healthy, AZ should have a solid WR corp for 2017 from the current roster.
    Fitz-Brown, Brown, Nelson, Golden, Dobson

    They have bigger needs at ILB, CB and RG to fill for 2017 more than WR.
    They picked up WR, Dobson as a restoration project, maybe they do the same in free agency with a player that is still young, has size/speed that shouldn’t command high $.

    Examples:

    B. Quick 28 yrs old Rams
    J. Hunter 26yrs old Bills
    M. Wheaton 26 yrs old Steelers

    Given the injury concerns with Smokey and the fact that J. Brown is recovering from surgery, I see them adding another player, but maybe the need not as high as many fans believe..

  3. By JTDG on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    This is a year in which you wish you had 3 or 4 first rounders and 3-4 second rounders.

    There are a lot of talent in this draft and at spots of need for the cards.

    WR. Mike Williams, as I have said since Jan, is the cream of the crop. I am high on Zay Jones and JuJu Smith. Curtis Samual and John Ross are guys who can blow the top off defenses.

    But then you have a really nice crop of inside LBs. Zach Cunningham and Hassan Riddick are a couple of athletic guys that can drop into coverage and really run down backs sideline to sideline.

    The CBs are probably the best group and you could find talent, possible starters, in round 3 or 4.

    There is a handful of safeties I would take in a heartbeat. Of course you have Hooker and Adams, but don’t forget Peppers. This guy is a bigger and more durable version of the badger. Bubba Baker is fast and would be an awesome FS. There are several others too.

    There are a dozen interior lineman that can start day one. Forest Lamp, Dion Dawkins, and Dan Feeney are just a few.

    And, although the cards do not need pass rusher, they have plenty of them also. I really like Taco Charlton.

    Man, to have about 8 picks in the first two rounds this year. Good year to draft everything but a QB.

  4. By danafrancis on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    It will be interesting to see if they do, in fact, go WR in first-round. Obviously they are thinking best player available, so who knows, it may be an OL or DL again. It will VERY interesting, though, to see what they do if Reuben Foster is still there at 13, given how his stock has dropped in recent days. My view is he is already off their board; I think they know enough from the D-Wash disaster not to go down that road again.

  5. By Jacob Hewitt on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Just watched Darren talk to Bidwell
    Ha ha ha he has a couple fans on the east coast witch is me and I think I’m probably one of a few cardinal fans in SC the fan base here is Panther,Falcons,Steelers,Packers,CowBoys, and sea hawks

  6. By Andy Kw on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Obi Melifonwu at Inside Linebacker, Zay Jones future replacement for Larry. Make it happen Keim

  7. By texascard on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Build a dominant line. Dont let keim draft the lineman. Hire someone else to find oline. And build a dominant line. Wr dont matter if palmer on his back. And his bail out clock not as long as it used to be. But i will say he is a tough old qb.

  8. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Christian McCaffery has the same skill set that DJ does (RB and slot WR) and can return punts. 13 is probably too high, but just think about the versatility he could offer… like getting 3 players in one. I don’t think he’s going to be there when the Cards pick in the 2nd round.

  9. By CardsNation on Mar 6, 2017 | Reply

    Clearly, we’re not gonna get Campbell or Jefferson. First and second round options.

    First round–

    **Haason Reddick
    Comparison: Ryan Shazier

    Fast, can cover, pass rush, 10.5 or 9.5 sacks last season in college.
    Need more strength and need to improve run support

    Mike Williams/Corey Davis
    Comparison: Young Larry Fitzgerald/Demaryius Thomas

    They can run routes, both didn’t run the 40-yard dash and Davis did not participate in the combine. The biggest concern is their catching skill, both dropped a lot of passes in their college career, which is a big concern for the Cardinals this year.

    *I truly don’t think we will take a QB or CB in the first round.

    Second round–

    Obi Melifonwu (If Swearinger stays, it could be different)
    Comparison: Paul Krause
    6’4”, 4.4 40 yards, tackle really well, 44 vertical jumps, need to work on play read and coverage skill. His height should not be a concern for safety.

    Tanoh Kpassagnon
    Comparison: Calais Campell
    Keim likes small school guy? Here he is. 6’7”, fast at his size. Explosive. A lot of production in College. He could be a steal in the third round, but it’s a good idea to trade down and get him.

    Juju Smith-Schuster
    Comparison: Anquan Boldin
    Not a fast guy but explosive like Boldin in Arizona. Need to work on route running and his consistency. He has the potential to become a pro.

    *Patrick Mahomes
    We need a QB before Palmer leaves Arizona. Mahomes could go either way, bust or pro. He has a lot production in college but the offense he runs in college is not NFL type of offense. Palmer could be a great mentor for him.

  10. By D on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Just sign a starting quality G this week Mr. Keim, then you can focus on bringing in young talent via the draft for the holes in the D.

    Zeitler and Lang, probably too expensive.. but imagine how good AZ Oline would be if one of these two players signed here…

    Warford, or Leary and we would have one improved Oline..

    Wisnieski would be an upgrade from last year…

  11. By JTDG on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Darren,

    Please give us an honest opinion.

    Do you think the cards sign any big name player day one of FA ?

    In the past, it seems they let the market be set, then go get their guys. But they did get Veldheer early on.

    So, is BA introducing a FA on day one?

  12. By Darren Urban on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: “Big name”

    I do not expect so, no.

  13. By JTDG on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Cardsnation, mitchaz, Darren, anyone;

    I like Foster on the field. I like Reddick and think he can project to a ILB. I like Jarrad Davis.

    But with on small ILB already in 210 pound Bucannon, can the cards afford to get another smaller , faster LB ?

    Got to figure the Rams and Niners will run the ball more than throw and seattle has been able to run in the past. Can we get away with smaller LBs against those teams, especially when we have the smaller Mathieu at SS?

    Now Zach Cunningham is 6’3″ and 235, but could put another 10-15 pounds on his frame. He is long, rangy and good in coverage. At 6’3″ and 245-250, he could be a terror in the run game and passing game, along with A gap blitzes.

    I have heard comparisons to Derreck Johnson and Alec Olgetree (two guys with similar builds excelling inside).

    I personally think, if the cards go LB, it needs to be Cunningham.

  14. By Big Ken on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Foster now makes me nervous after being sent home from the combine. I don’t think he was having a good showing either from what I read. Immature to say the least.

  15. By Big Ken on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    With all the compensatory picks handed out it will be interesting to see if teams will want to swap first rounders with the Cardinals. Providing the Cards with some extra picks. I think teams are going crazy over John Ross.

  16. By Rob on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Did anyone see linebacker Raekwon McMillan from Ohio State perform at the combine? He was a beast and it would be awesome if we could pick him up with our 2nd round pick. That would allow us to go CB or S in Round 1.

  17. By mitchaz on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG—

    I think the world of Cunningham as an athlete and dynamic chaser of the football, but after watching him in several game two concerns stood out very clearly: he plays at a high pad level (tackles high) and he’s almost strictly an arm tackler (because of his pad level). He got away with it more often than not in college, but he’s not going to get away with it in the pros. If this can be fixed, then Cunningham might turn out to be very good, because he sure can get to the football in a hurry.

    Haason Reddick, on the other hand, is a textbook hit, wrap and finish tackler and may well be the best blitzing LB in the draft.

  18. By mitchaz on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    Rob—

    I am with you, friend. Raekwon McMillan is a stud. Stops RBs in their tracks the way the Seahawls LBers do. The only question is — can he cover in the pros? Still, I would want him as a 2 down LB, goal-line thumper and STs stalwart.

  19. By CardsNation on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG

    Cunningham was considered a “loser” in the combine by NFL.com, he didn’t perform that well as the scouts expected him to be. On the other hand, Foster didn’t even participate in the combine because of personal issue with because of issues with the doctor. He was sent home and it could raise some personal issues. I’m just looking for his pro day soon. There are so many good LBs this year, not every team need an LB and we have the 13th pick, we can get a pretty good one in the second round. I’m still considering a WR in the first round, but the drop issue of Mike Williams and Corey Davis is a big concern.

    I believed Reddick played safety before and OLB primarily in college. So he can definitely cover and pass rush, but run support could be an issue due to his size.

    Obi Melifonwu could be a steal in this draft considering how many good safeties are in this draft.

  20. By JTDG on Mar 7, 2017 | Reply

    cardsnation,

    As I said before the combine, I wouldn’t draft anyone based on what they did or didn’t do at the combine.

    For example, I knew John Ross was a burner on tape, so him running a 4.22 didn’t change that.

    If a player is awesome on tape, that is what matters. Cunningham makes plays all over the field. I don’t care what he did in shorts.

    I like Riddeck. I just wonder if having two LBs on the smaller size might be an issue. It might not.

    I also agree I am not taking a LB at #13. Either I am trading down and taking a LB in the later part of round 1 or looking in round 2.

    I really like Peppers at safety. This is a guy who can cover TEs or slot receivers, while coming up in run support. I really like the guy. If Mike Williams isn’t there at 13, Peppers wouldn’t be a bad choice.

    Nothing is changing my mind on Williams. This guy did it on the field and is the best receiver in the draft. He does remind me of Larry Fitzgerald. He helps this team in 2017 and the future.

  21. By Scott H on Mar 8, 2017 | Reply

    With Fitz and Palmer coming back and giving us ( at least ) one more year to be a completely legit contender, it really puts the F/O in an interesting spot. I mean, you can never say to hell with the future, but….with Fitz and Palmer back on board for 2017, giving you the chance to be completely legit, don’t you kinda have to stay in all out win now mode?? Yeah, I think you do. And I hope that WILL be their mindset.

    I want a SB win, period. Now. While we seem to be in a position to compete for one. Hate to say this like I don’t care or it doesn’t matter but…if Palmer and Fitz are walking away after this year ( along with whoever else might be out the door at that time ), we are heading for a drop off that inevitably comes with re-building. And I think we are headed for that regardless, so…..if that is the case, why not do everything possible to get a SB win before we go down that ( potentially ) dark road? Makes sense to me.

    As I am looking at things that way, I guess I am not looking at WR as such an immediate need. Granted, that would also require that our top 4 WR’s stay healthy and play well in 2017. That’s no given. And, yes, with Fitz’ pending departure, there will certainly be a need for a “big” WR to fill that spot. I’m just saying I don’t mind them not making that guy a top priority in THIS draft if helping another position be better ( CB / O-line / LB ) than it was last year makes us better RIGHT NOW.

    Stay in win now mode. Because you won’t always be as close as you are right now. We know what down years feel like. I’ll deal with that. But we don’t know what winning a SB feels like. I DO, however, suspect that winning one eases the pain of some down years quite a bit. I’m certainly willing to give that a shot and find out for sure.

  22. By JTDG on Mar 8, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H,

    Been saying what you just said all off season.

    If I was in Keim’s position, I would sign players and push contracts into the future. I might even over pay guys to give us the best shot at winning it all in 2017.

    Because yes, a losing season is very possible in 2018. And if you miss on that QB, even longer than that.

    Dak Prescott was surrounded by a great offense. Most of the time, rookie QBs are like Wentz. They show promise, but aren’t there yet. 2018 might be full of promise, but most likely, not wins.

    This is the year. This is the window shutting. A much more aggressive approach should have been done. Signing Campbell and Jefferson was a priority. Getting Jones on a long term deal was a must. Signing a CB and a center and guard is a must.

    But obviously, Keim doesn’t see it the way I see it. But for 26 years, I have disagreed with the front offices and for 26 years, I am usually watching the team lose and wondering why they didn’t do things that were so obvious.

    We will see in 2017. Not a positive start.

  23. By Scott H on Mar 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG –

    Any time we agree, it always makes me feel smarter! 🙂

    Yeah, maybe it’s not all so simple up there in the F/O, but for me it is – go ALL IN / All OUT for 2017 and worry about 2018 when it comes. If Palmer / Fitz are gone after this year, 2018 is probably a losing season and who knows how long the rebuilding process will take. As we know all too well, without a QB, it goes on indefinitely. So…go for it all right now. And do whatever it takes.

    BTW, just saw the news that a deal for Jones is being finalized. I mean, he wasn’t going anywhere, anyway, but a new deal now is better than him playing on a one-year tender and the problem waiting for us again as soon as the 2017 is over.

    A step in the right direction.

  24. By JTDG on Mar 8, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H,

    Jones;

    I heard that. Wonder the details. I would imagine it frees up some cap room.

    Maybe the draft stud safety, Jabrill Peppers with the 13 th pick to take care of the safety issue.
    Then sign a guard, center and CB
    Draft an ILB and receiver

    And our worries disappear. We will see.

  25. By joe holst on Mar 8, 2017 | Reply

    trade down and draft a CB 1st in this deep CB draft.

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