Where the Cardinals’ draft picks officially fall

Posted by Darren Urban on March 6, 2018 – 8:56 am

The NFL put out the official draft order of all seven rounds for April. The Cardinals, of course, have seven picks after acquiring three compensatory choices. They have two picks in the third round, none in the sixth, and their seventh round pick is third to last (so, barring a trade, Saturday is gonna be a long day.) The Cardinals’ original choices are all 15th in the respective rounds:

First round (15th overall)

Second round (47th overall)

Third round (79th overall)

Third round comp pick (33rd in round, 97th overall)

Fourth round comp pick (34th in round, 134th overall)

Fifth round (152nd overall)

Seventh round comp pick (36th in round, 254th overall)

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Jockeying for QB has begun

Posted by Darren Urban on March 5, 2018 – 11:55 am

The Scouting combine is the perfect place for quarterback speculation, with all the top draft possibilities coming in to talk, all the teams on hand to watch and speak to the media, all the agents there to whisper things and free agency coming just a week after its conclusion. It’s fun to wonder about anyway, but important since the Cardinals don’t have a quarterback, period, as of now.

There was plenty suggested about what free agents might go where, what could happen to first domino Kirk Cousins (the Cardinals have been named as a potential suitor, but Cousins was always thought to be drawing many) and what kind of money he could make, and where all the other QBs might fit after that: Case Keenum, A.J. McCarron, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Josh McCown, and, of course, whether Drew Stanton and/or Blaine Gabbert could still end up in the mix here in Arizona. All those puzzle pieces then impact the draft and the top names there.

What might be more interesting right now is to try and pinpoint not the individual quarterbacks per se, but the teams that might be interested in drafting a young QB. It might not impact how free agency plays out directly, but it could turn some free-agent decisions for those getting bridge QBs into higher pressure situations come the draft. For instance, the Giants already have Eli Manning, and could take RB Saquon Barkley second overall. But a quarterback has to be in play there, given Manning’s age.

Looking at the league, however, you can make the case — to varying degrees of urgency, of course — that 15 teams in the first round (and the Browns and Bills each have two picks in the first round) could consider a young QB going forward. And that doesn’t include the Cardinals. Some are obvious: The Browns, Broncos, Jets and Vikings — and Cards — have to have a QB (if they don’t have someone like Cousins who would be a long-term solution.) Some teams need to groom someone behind a QB who is older: The Giants, Redskins, Chargers, Saints, Steelers and Patriots. And then there are the teams that might be looking to move on from their current situation: The Dolphins, Bengals, Ravens, Bills and Jaguars.

That’s a lot of places a QB could go — and another reason it’s dangerous for a team to think they can get the guy they want into the second round, when a team might just spend a late first-rounder to grab a guy.

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Fitzgerald lends hand to Russell Westbrook

Posted by Darren Urban on March 3, 2018 – 10:58 am

Larry Fitzgerald is a basketball fan, and often watches the Suns from courtside seats. Friday night, he also got involved. When the Thunder were playing the Suns, star Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook ended up on his back and sliding hard into the sideline right where Fitz was sitting. Fitzgerald eventually helped Westbrook up, although Westbrook didn’t really acknowledge Fitz’s gesture. (He looked perturbed he ended up there in the first place.

After the game, however, Westbrook did compliment Fitzgerald’s effort.

“That’s once in a lifetime that I get helped up by a great athlete like himself and an exceptional football player and a good friend,” Westbrook said.

It’s remarkable sometimes how all these excellent athletes end up friends. There is obviously a kinship when these pro stars reach a certain level. Fitzgerald, if you hadn’t seen, also had a chance to play some golf with Tiger Woods recently.

Once again, as we wait for football to fully gear up again, it’s about the hoops.

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QBs make a good impression at the podium

Posted by Darren Urban on March 2, 2018 – 3:25 pm

There are almost always “important” media interview sessions here at the Scouting combine. Most of the time it has to do with players with potential red flags. Any position can be represented — think Vontaze Burfict, Manti Te’o or even Tyrann Mathieu — but many times, it has to do with the quarterback. That’s the position that leads most often, and the one the gets the most scrutiny. Ryan Mallett was grilled in Indy, as was Cam Newton. Johnny Manziel too.

I remember back in 2006, not knowing much about a Vanderbilt quarterback who was gaining steam as a prospect, and after his session, thinking if I was the Cardinals I’d be wary. Jay Cutler could play, but he definitely gave off a lousy vibe.

Friday, the quarterbacks all talked. All the top guys have some kind of scrutiny. But after getting a chance to hear all of them, all left good impressions, albeit in different ways. Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson definitely showed the most personality, with Mayfield coming strong with his confidence he will be the best QB and emphasizing he will be honest with whatever missteps he might have made. “I want teams to know what they are getting,” he said.

Jackson could only chuckle at the idea he might be asked to move to receiver. “Man, I thought I did pretty good at quarterback,” he said with a smile. (He did.) He said no teams have talked to him about a position switch but it doesn’t matter, because he isn’t going anywhere. The other top guys — Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen — were solid themselves. Nothing flashy, but they didn’t come across poorly.

Of course, it’s the interview process with the teams behind closed doors that will ultimately mean more. But teams do pay attention to how these players handle their business in front of the cameras. That box has been checked.

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Being “aggressive” in the search for QB

Posted by Darren Urban on March 1, 2018 – 6:49 am

It’s the buzzword that the Cardinals — and many teams — use this time of year: “Aggressive.”

It came up with both GM Steve Keim and coach Steve Wilks here at the Scouting combine, when both were asked what exactly it meant when they said they were going to be aggressive in their pursuit of a quarterback.

“When you don’t have one, there is no other way,” Keim said, and that’s hard to argue.

Still, both men described being aggressive pretty much the same way they have been talking about the quarterback search in general.

“We will have plans in place for free agency, but again, a trade option potentially, and the draft, it’s all three because we don’t have any on the roster currently,” Keim said. “Whether we are going to keep two or three, we’re going to have to have someone that’s experienced,  and you’d like to be able to take a young guy and develop him.”

Wilks was a little more specific.

“What I mean by aggressive right here is when free agency starts, we’re going to try to get the best one, not only have a plan A but a plan B and a Plan C,” he said. “You also have to look at trades. And then, there’s the draft. We’re sitting at 15. Do we feel there is a guy we have to move up for? All those things come into play when I talk about being aggressive, not sitting back.”

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The new “Flight Plan” episode drops

Posted by Darren Urban on February 28, 2018 – 8:37 am

The newest episode of the Cardinals’ docu-series “Flight Plan” will be posted tonight on Facebook Watch. The second installment — titled “Mobilizing”– will go up at 6 p.m. The focus will be on the scouts and the annual trip to the Senior Bowl, especially to look at the quarterbacks. There’s also the moment Steve Wilks announces in a radio interview that Larry Fitzgerald is coming back to play this season.

“Flight Plan” is posted every couple of weeks. It can be seen on (you do not need a Facebook account) and as it worked last time, the episode will be posted on Thursday at 6 p.m.


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Work to do in Indy

Posted by Darren Urban on February 27, 2018 – 5:17 pm

Another Scouting combine is here. It’s shockingly warm here in Indianapolis — I’ve never taken my usual drugstore trip upon arrival wondering if I even needed the light jacket I was wearing — but the rest is the same as usual. The Cardinals’ braintrust speaks to the media Wednesday (7:45 a.m. Arizona time for Steve Wilks and 9:30 a.m. for Steve Keim), and footage shot the rest of this week will end up in one of the episodes of the Flight Plan docu-series. We will also record a special Cardinals Underground podcast Wednesday afternoon, and we will have a series of articles not only the balance of this week but also into next week based around Indy information.

By the time the combine ends, we’ll be within a week of free agency (at least the “tampering” front end.) Here, the quarterbacks have their media responsibilities on Friday and then get to the field Saturday as the draft process ramps up for that position.

But as Keim has said multiple times — and as Wilks also believes — it’s the interviews that ultimately are the most crucial here in Indy (along with the medical checks.) Keim said recently that “maybe you need to take a player who is less talented who loves it a little more.” That definitely makes the face-to-face talks crucial.

Check back here often for all the updates.



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Tyrann Mathieu’s game-winner on the hardwood

Posted by Darren Urban on February 26, 2018 – 10:31 am

Basketball is a popular topic in NFL locker rooms — in part because many of these athletes believe they could have had a second professional calling in hoops. Some are clearly dreaming. Others can play a bit. (Kurt Warner, who still holds pickup games at his house, was once invited to play at the White House by then-President Obama.)

This weekend, Tyrann Mathieu — who often plays pickup and sometimes invites the public to come play in games at the local gym he frequents — had video proof he can play a little (as he has mentioned once or a few times.) Taking part in a charity game, Mathieu makes a couple of impressive crossover moves before drilling the game-winning three-pointer. If nothing else, it’s always good to see Mathieu moving around well on knees that have had their share of rough moments, ACL-wise.

More importantly, to have video evidence of his basketball prowess will no doubt be used as leverage in the locker room whenever the debate about who the top baller on the Cardinals might be.

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Wilks’ QB input: “A whole lot”

Posted by Darren Urban on February 22, 2018 – 3:30 pm

Steve Wilks, who makes it clear of his conviction in whatever he might be talking about, took a few questions today prior to an open interview session with his offensive assistants. One of the questions was a very basic one, especially for a head coach with a defensive background: How much input will you have on the decision for the next quarterback?

“Have a lot of input in it,” Wilks said. “A whole lot.”

“We’re going to work together to make sure we bring the right guy in here,” Wilks added. “Coaches are watching tape and evaluating as well. (GM) Steve Keim and myself are constantly talking and communicate about our gameplan of what we want to do. Anyone coming on this roster I will have a definite input and major factor in bringing them in.”

That Wilks would have a large say isn’t a surprise, especially after Keim and Michael Bidwill talked during the coaching search that having such QB input was one of the selling points to a candidate. There is little question, however, how strongly Wilks feels about the process and his place in it.

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In one way, “new” additions already here

Posted by Darren Urban on February 22, 2018 – 12:07 pm

A couple of weeks ago, David Johnson randomly sent out a tweet about the Cards’ injury issues last season.

The list was pretty long by the end of the year, and encompassed a lot of key players. Johnson, linebacker Markus Golden, tackles D.J. Humphries and Jared Veldheer, guard Mike Iupati, safeties Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea, quarterback Carson Palmer and running back Adrian Peterson among them. Some were hurt later in the season, mitigating their absence.

But what has struck me about the notion isn’t what it did to 2017, because that’s been covered in-depth and is moot now, but what it means in 2018. In particular, the return to health of the first three names on the list in particular — Johnson, Golden and Humphries — is essentially key additions when the Cards didn’t really have them for most of the season. Johnson was hurt in the first game. Humphries played only five total games because of two different knee injuries. Golden didn’t even finish the fourth game with his knee injury.

All have been rehabbing, and all are confident of their return this season (All happen to be the top three picks of the Cardinals’ 2015 draft, as well.) To be able to “add” a running back who has proven he can gain 2,000 scrimmage yards in a season, or a pass rusher who has proven he can collect 12 sacks means something. I know Humphries engenders a lot of different opinions thus far, but the Cardinals are convinced he is evolving into a top-flight tackle.

Obviously, they have to avoid getting injured again. And injuries happen to every team — it just depends on who and for how long. But when assessing what the 2018 Cardinals can look like, getting key parts for (hopefully) a full season should be part of the perspective.

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