It is a deep draft for running backs. And the Cardinals are expected to take one at some point. It seems a favorite thing for mock drafters to do, putting a running back next to the Cardinals at their No. 24 first-round pick. I still don’t see this as likely, not with Andre Ellington around, the depth of the available prospects and the question about the top back in the draft (Todd Gurley’s ACL injury.) Another potential part of this equation? What the Cardinals have gotten, or haven’t gotten, out of the backs they have drafted early.
Since the team moved to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals have drafted a running back in the first or second round nine times:
— 1988 Tony Jeffery (8 yards in one year in Arizona)
— 1990 Anthony Thompson (774 yards in three years)
— 1993 Garrison Hearst (1,503 yards in three years)
— 1994 Chuck Levy (15 yards in one year)
— 1996 Leeland McElroy (729 yards in two years)
— 2000 Thomas Jones (1,264 yards in three years)
— 2005 J.J. Arrington (654 yards in four years)
— 2009 Beanie Wells (2,471 yards in four years)
— 2011 Ryan Williams (164 yards in three years)
Obviously, it’s not a list with spectacular results. Hearst and Jones both had solid NFL careers, but only after they left Arizona. And while only three of those picks have come in the last decade, Arrington and Wells and Williams never made a big enough impact. Wells did have a 1,000-yard season in 2011, but injuries doomed him as they did Williams.
In two seasons, Ellington has already made more of an impact, as a sixth-round pick, than most of the guys on that list — and Ellington produced some in 2014 even though he was never healthy. Given the health concerns of Ellington, and the past issues of Wells and Williams, it’s hard to imagine the Cards taking a flyer on Gurley unless they were completely convinced he was a) not have any lingering effects and b) a special talent. Some believe both those to be the case. But there would be a certain leap of faith. I could see a second-round running back, but again, in this day and age of finding backs later — and with a team that is still going to use Ellington a lot — I think Steve Keim will carefully consider his options.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Anthony Thompson, Beanie Wells, Chuck Levy, Garrison Hearst, J.J. Arrington, Leeland McElroy, Ryan Williams, Thomas Jones, Todd Gurley, Tony Jeffery
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Steve Keim has mentioned it a few times over the years, that all the time before the draft simply allows for too much analyzing of players. It’s inevitable, really, as the days pile up and the draft still has not arrived. For a team, it can be controlled in a way; the Cardinals have been conducting their draft meetings for a little over a week and are finally winding down in the parade of personnel people, scouts and coaches going in and out of the draft room about 25 feet from where I type this.
But it came to mind with all the talk about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota and where those quarterbacks might go in the draft and the sudden surge — at least among the media — of talk that Mariota is now considered by many as the No. 1 QB prospect when Winston seemed to be the consensus choice through most of the offseason. Now there is somewhat of a sea change, even though none of Winston’s 18 interceptions this season came in recent weeks and even though Mariota’s quiet personality probably hasn’t suddenly morphed into bold and loud.
In the end, I don’t think the draft is going to have any significant deviation than what everyone originally thought back in February — I think Winston goes first to Tampa, I think Mariota goes top five somewhere. I think people will keep talking about the running backs but that if they go first round, it’ll be late, because that’s where running backs go. I think, even though the Cardinals probably hope there is a drop, that all the top pass rushers are going to be top 20 picks, regardless of off-field issues. It’s always a fallacy that players are “moving” on team’s boards. Again, the Cards just started with their draft grades last week, so nobody was graded at that point anyway.
The draft is still more than two weeks away. There will still be plenty of time for all these players to be analyzed and reanalyzed over and over. The goal for teams — and the Cardinals — is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Grade a guy, and move on.
Tags: draft, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Steve Keim
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The players will be returning a week from today to begin the strength and conditioning program. While it is voluntary, I’m sure it will be well attended as guys stream back for the offseason. The workouts start Monday, with Phase 2 — which allows players to get back on the field with a ball — May 4 and then Phase 3 — which is OTAs and minicamp — beginning May 19.
And it looks like the work will take place in the team’s new weight room, too.
As the construction upgrades on the team’s Tempe facility begin to wind toward completion, workers began moving the weight equipment from the practice bubble — where it has been since right after the Super Bowl — into the team’s new and much more spacious weight room. Strength and conditioning coaches Buddy Morris, Roger Kingdom and Anthony Piroli were down there today (pictured below) discussing the new layout while that part of the rehab is finishing up. It all should be in place when work starts Monday. The new locker rooms remain work-in-progress, so players will continue to use their temporary lockers in the bubble for now.
Tags: Buddy Morris, offseason, Roger Kingdom, voluntary workouts
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There have been a lot of questions about the status of suspended linebacker Daryl Washington, and nothing can happen until he is reinstated. His agent told Kent Somers that request to the NFL is coming “in the next week or so,” which will start the clock on the NFL considering Washington’s future. That’s a small part of Kent’s comprehensive breakdown of what is facing Washington and the Cardinals next. It’s a good read.
Whenever Washington is reinstated, his contract picks up where it was essentially frozen last May when he was suspended — meaning in terms of his salary, he will play 2015 like it was 2014, and so on along this contract. Washington did just get paid the $5 million he was owed on his deferred bonus money from pre-suspension. And again, when and if Washington is reinstated, he still doesn’t know if there will be NFL punishment handed down for his assault conviction last year.
Tags: Daryl Washington
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Rob Housler wasn’t coming back to the Cardinals. The team had decided to move on from the tight end and 2011 third-round pick, so he was always going to have a new address in 2015. It turned out to be Cleveland, where Thursday Housler worked out a one-year contract. He joins former Cardinals teammates Karlos Dansby and Jim Dray. Once the Cardinals drafted Troy Niklas last year, Housler’s days were probably numbered, and with Darren Fells emerging as a future possibility at tight end, the Cards had — along with John Carlson — the tight ends they needed.
Coach Bruce Arians has said he is hoping to add an H-back-type tight end. Right now, the Cards have five tight ends on the roster: Niklas, Fells, Carlson, Ted Bolser and Ifeanyi Momah.
Tags: Browns, Darren Fells, Ifeanyi Momah, John Carlson, Rob Housler, Ted Bolser, Troy Niklas
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At some point, it figures, Steve Keim will find a “name” veteran who figures out he isn’t going to get the money he had planned on making in free agency and is willing to come to Arizona on a (likely) one-year deal. In 2013, that was Karlos Dansby and then, right before training camp, Eric Winston and John Abraham (although Abraham ended up signing a two-year contract.) Last year, the guy was Antonio Cromartie and, to a lesser extent, Larry Foote.
This year? We’ll see. If it doesn’t come before the draft — Dansby was post-draft, for instance — so be it.
“The second and third wave comes when guys come to their senses and realize they aren’t going to get the dollars or the type of long-term or guaranteed deals they expected,” Keim said. “We’ll pounce if the numbers are right. Right now if we went into the draft and didn’t address another position, I feel good with where we are at.”
Who could such a player be? The list of available players at this point don’t have any names that significantly stand out. Here’s a look at some potential pickups based merely on who is still out there and possible fit (although this is strictly speculation — at this point, I will be surprised if anything happens before the draft, and then the Cardinals will sort it out from there):
— TE Jermaine Gresham. Coming off a back injury and right now, I don’t see them chasing a guy like this. Troy Niklas is the one they have high hopes about, they like what Darren Fells could be as a blocker and I’ll be surprised at this point if John Carlson doesn’t remain part of the 2015 plan. Bruce Arians said he was looking for an H-back type if anyone. Gresham isn’t that guy.
— TE James Casey. OK, he’s not really a “name” but he is an H-back-type who still hasn’t signed anywhere since talking to the Cards a month ago. Could he be a late add?
— LB Brandon Spikes. The Cardinals already added LaMarr Woodley on the one-year, prove-it deal, so maybe that’s their Dansby/Foote linebacker choice for 2015. Besides, Spikes is the two-down run-stopper, and that’s why you have Kevin Minter.
— C Stefen Wisniewski. Still unsigned, he is reportedly coming off shoulder surgery after the Cards were linked to him pre-free agency. Now, with the addition of A.Q. Shipley, it’s hard to believe the Cardinals would bring Wisniewski in, unless it turned into a real bargain sign.
— Pass rusher Dwight Freeney. Perhaps Freeney makes the most sense, given his status in the league. In some ways, he is like Abraham. His sack totals haven’t been the same (3.5 last season) although he had a team-best 40 quarterback hurries playing for the Chargers. Plus, the 35-year-old was with the Colts when Arians was there.
Again, much of this is wait-and-see, a door open for the Cards to move “if the numbers are right.” Always, if the numbers are right.
Tags: Brandon Spikes, Bruce Arians, Dwight Freeney, free agency, James Casey, Jermaine Gresham, Stefen Wisniewski
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Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be holding his fourth annual ProCamp in about a month — May 9-10, to be exact — for boys and girls in grades 1-8. Both days will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Tempe’s McClintock High School. Led by prep and college coaches from the area, Fitz — who recently stopped by the Cardinals’ facility to get a workout in in between jumping off ridiculously high places — will help teach fundamental football skills while interacting with the kids.
Each camper gets a Fitz autograph and a team photo with Larry. Cost is $199, although when you sign up if you use the code “askdarren” you’ll get 15 percent off. Just go to www.procamps.com/larryfitzgerald.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald
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During the season Bruce Arians had referred to a vague medical problem Patrick Peterson had dealt with, and then during the Scouting combine said it had to do with Peterson’s “blood issues.” Kent Somers, talking to Peterson over the weekend, had Peterson acknowledge “I am a diabetic.” Today, Peterson tweeted out a statement of his own.
I want to take a moment to address the media reports this morning regarding my health. While I did have (cont) http://t.co/2UvNHrO4pZ
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) April 7, 2015
The important part of the statement is that Peterson said through diet and a doctor’s care, “I’m grateful that this has been reversible for me and my health is back to normal.”
Arians didn’t talk about the health issues at all at the recent NFL spring meetings when talking about the Pro Bowl cornerback. Asked if he felt Peterson was criticized too much last season, Arians said “it was probably warranted in September.” But he quickly added that Peterson bounced back strong (and perhaps not coincidentally, about the time Peterson would have figured out his health plan.)
“He’s on the number one guy from the other team every week, all over the field,” Arians said. “You’re going to lose a few battles. I don’t care who you are. Deion used to lose some battles.
“(Peterson) gets overly criticized because of his stature. There was not much to criticize from October to the rest of the way.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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Since 2008, every single position on the offensive line has had some kind of competition at one point for the Cardinals — except at center. That’s where Lyle Sendlein manned the job, and there was never really anyone around to truly push the status quo. That’s changed, now, with Sendlein getting released (after being asked to take a paycut and being informed that indeed, there would be a competition this year.) A.Q. Shipley was signed as a free agent and more importantly, the Cardinals have Ted Larsen — who started at guard all last season but did a solid job in for an injured Sendlein during the preseason in 2014.
The door remains open for Sendlein to return if he wanted, but he’ll explore all his other options for now. If he were to return, it’s probably safe to say one of those vets won’t be with the team by the time final roster cutdowns happen. There is a chance a center/guard could find his way on to the team through the draft or as an undrafted rookie, although the team still has last year’s UDFA Anthony Steen who would be in that role. (There were times when Jonathan Cooper took some pre-game snaps as the third center last year, but I highly doubt he will be in the mix. For Coop, it’s about winning that right guard spot.)
That the Cardinals decided to shift things around at center isn’t a huge surprise, especially when it comes to the money. The team now has significantly more invested at guard after signing Mike Iupati (plus a seventh-overall draft pick contract with Cooper) and while Bobby Massie is playing out a fourth-round rookie deal at right tackle, Jared Veldheer is making big bucks at left tackle. You can’t pay them all, and center was a spot they were looking to address. If I had to guess at a starter right now, I’d guess Larsen. (Bruce Arians declined to say who it would be as of right now.) We are a long way from seeing what direction that storyline goes come September.
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Anthony Steen, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Ted Larsen
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When the strength and conditioning program begins for the Cardinals (and around most of the league) April 20, the tendency is to wonder, “Who isn’t there?” Then becomes the rash of “Remember, it’s only voluntary” answers.
(The teams with new head coaches can begin sooner.)
As the years have gone on and teams have hoped that their players would show up to such voluntary work, many contracts have been drawn up with workout bonuses attached. For a pretty good chunk of change, the players just have to come to a high percentage of the voluntary workout dates. The Cardinals are no different.
A list of the players on the active roster that have workout bonuses. (NT Alameda Ta’amu has a workout-like bonus, but that money is tied to making weight, not just showing up to work):
P Dave Zastudil $270,000
DE Calais Campbell $250,000
QB Drew Stanton $250,000
LB Sean Weatherspoon $250,000
S Rashad Johnson $150,000
DT Corey Peters $150,000
LB Matt Shaughnessy $125,000
CB Patrick Peterson $100,000
LB Lorenzo Alexander $100,000
S Tyrann Mathieu $50,000
C/G A.Q. Shipley $25,000
C/G Ted Larsen $25,000
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Calais Campbell, Corey Peters, Dave Zastudil, Drew Stanton, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, offseason, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Sean Weatherspoon, Ted Larsen, Tyrann Mathieu
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