Day Two is in the books. Some quick notes and thoughts before I call it a night:
— After the trade Friday with the Ravens, the Cardinals have six picks on Saturday. There is a chance they won’t still have six by the time they draft Mr. Irrelevant to end the whole thing. GM Steve Keim said the trades might not be done. He mentioned a trade up possibility twice, so it’s on his mind.
“There are still a lot of guys (left) that Coach and I like,” Keim said. “We’ve had some conversations about going up (in a trade.) We will be active and aggressive. If there is someone we think that can help us, we will certainly make a jump at them.”
— As I noted in my story, Keim had Markus Golden on the brain Friday morning, long before the Cards were on the clock. That doesn’t mean they would’ve taken him no matter what, but they definitely feel good about the pick. Can he turn into James Harrison, as Bruce Arians suggested in who Golden reminded him of, well, we will see.
— The addition of RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa will help, but he’s got a long way to go to battle for the title of best Cardinal to come from Northern Iowa. That happens to be a quarterback who directed the team to the Super Bowl.
— Johnson will be in the mix for kickoff returns. “Yes indeed,” Arians said. “He and anybody else who can catch it,”
— Keim acknowledged the Cards were headed toward taking another offensive lineman Friday because of how their board fell. He made the point that another pass rusher or offensive lineman could end up another pick on Saturday.
— Nice job by Adrian Wilson making the announcement of the Golden pick. “Go Birdgang.” He’s a natural.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bruce Arians, David Johnson, draft, Markus Golden, Ravens, trade
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The Cardinals get their running back.
It wasn’t Adrian Peterson (it never was going to be him) and it wasn’t an early pick either. The Cards grabbed Northern Iowa’s David Johnson with their third-round pick, The guy is 6-1 and 224 pounds — there is your size guy in the backfield — and can run and make big plays. He immediately jumps into the mix with Andre Ellington as the Cards. He can catch the ball (38 receptions last season) as well as rush it (1,553 yards, with 17 touchdowns.) There are questions about his ability to break tackles and run in traffic, but he produced and at his size looks like a good pairing with Ellington.
Ellington is going to remain the main guy for now. Bruce Arians has said that repeatedly. But Johnson should find his way on the field.
Tags: Andre Ellington, David Johnson, draft
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The Cards got who they wanted plus an extra pick, selecting Missouri outside linebacker Markus Golden in the second round after a deal with the Ravens. Golden had 16.5 sacks the past two seasons with the Tigers, and will be put into the pass rushing mix quickly. The Cards obviously didn’t think as much of Eli Harold, the pass rusher still on the board who many thought would be a Cardinals’ target, but Golden was a guy who GM Steve Keim was talking about in the building first thing Friday morning, so he was clearly a target.
The Cardinals traded down to get an extra pick, sending pick No. 55 to Baltimore for the Ravens’ No. 58 pick plus a fifth-rounder. The Cards now have back-to-back picks in the fifth round and nine total picks in the draft. They still have their third-round pick later tonight.
Tags: draft, Markus Golden, trade
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First things first. Steve Keim and Bruce Arians weren’t committing to any position for their second- and third-round targets by the time the first round was over Thursday night. It won’t be an offensive linemen, but Arians reiterated the Cards will stick to their board when pick No. 55 comes up Friday afternoon, and unless there are a handful of closely graded guys sitting there (which is when need could come into play) the Cards will stay with the rankings.
That means we could see a running back, or a cornerback, a pass rusher or inside linebacker. I could possibly see a receiver with return skills as well. Among players at those positions left (while acknowledging the Cards have to wait until pick 23 Friday): Pass rusher Randy Gregory, cornerback Jalen Collins, pass rusher Eli Harold, cornerback Ronald Darby, linebacker Eric Kendricks and almost all the running backs, like Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, T.J. Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah.
— As for the choice of D.J. Humphries, it seemed like there was some surprise from the feedback I got, although offensive line was something I mentioned as a possibility on various outlets. Humphries sounds like an outgoing guy and while he is young, the Cardinals are convinced his upside will turn into something good on the field. He’ll battle Bobby Massie at right tackle, but when you are a first-round pick, usually, you’re going to be expected to play right away.
— Keim said the Cards could have traded up. No way to know if they might have tried to draft pass rushers Bud Dupree or Shane Ray. But obviously it wasn’t so important that the Cards wanted to shred their remaining picks.
— The last three tackles taken in the first round by the Cardinals: Levi Brown in 2007, Leonard Davis in 2001 and L.J. Shelton in 1999. None worked out the way the Cards hoped they would, but Keim clearly has higher hopes this time around. The upgrades to the offensive line in Keim’s short tenure have been drastic and should be effective.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Bud Dupree, D.J. Humphries, draft, Shane Ray, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals did not trade out of the 24th pick, and if they were looking at pass rushers, they watched two good ones go off the board in the two picks before them as the Steelers took Bud Dupree and the Broncos traded with the Lions to move up at take Shane Ray at No. 23. So the Cardinals go offensive line with their pick, taking Florida tackle D.J. Humphries. Humphries should have the ability to move to left tackle at some point, but in the short-term figures to battle Bobby Massie for the right tackle job. Massie is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2015 season.
It’s not sexy, but GM Steve Keim has said many times he has wanted to upgrade and solidify the offensive line. This fits. The offensive line continues to be a priority and that no longer should be a surprise.
Tags: Bobby Massie, D.J. Humphries, draft
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The Rams pulled a mild surprise with the 10th pick of the draft tonight, taking Georgia running back Todd Gurley — considered by most the top back in the draft and a potential star. If Gurley, who isn’t even 21 years old yet, pans out it’s going to be a tough matchup twice a year for the Cardinals. Then again, the Rams still don’t have much of an offensive line. In the short-term, Gurley is coming off an ACL injury and while he said he is hoping to be ready for training camp, the chances he is at full speed Oct. 4 when the Cardinals host the Rams in Week 4 seems unlikely. Their second 2015 matchup, in St. Louis Dec. 6, could be a different story. The draft hasn’t been chaotic as expected thus far through 12 picks. No trades, Marcus Mariota goes to Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans.
It seems unlikely RB Melvin Gordon lasts until the Cards at 24 now that Gurley is gone. Not with as many teams figuring to consider backs. Not that it matters — I thought all along it was unlikely the Cards went running back in round one anyway. (UPDATE: Gordon to the Chargers at No. 15, who traded up with the 49ers.)
Tags: draft, Rams, Todd Gurley
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The last time Steve Keim talked to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman was at the March NFL meetings here in Arizona, the Cards’ GM said this morning on the “Doug and Wolf” Show on Arizona Sports 98.7. Given that Spielman has repeatedly said he will not be trading running back Adrian Peterson — which is why the question was asked and who floats through every interview these days with Cards’ decision-makers, whether he is named or not — that gap makes sense.
Trying to get at an answer and trying to avoid Keim having to tamper, Keim was also asked questions in different ways:
Would you feel comfortable drafting a 30-year-old running back with your first pick?
Keim chuckled at that one. “You’re not going to trap me that way.”
The follow-up: Is a running back that age worth a first-round pick?
“That’s tough to answer, and I’m certainly not going to jump into it,” Keim said.
In context, it felt a lot more like Keim was trying to avoid any accusation of tampering than providing comments with hidden meaning, but that’s my opinion. My thoughts on the subject haven’t changed: I don’t see Peterson playing anywhere but Minnesota in 2015.
As for the rest of the draft, Keim said there have been some players who have been “weeded out in the process” of draft meetings and won’t be options for the Cards because of off-field issues. Interestingly, with the Cardinals picking at No. 24 overall, Keim also said he thinks the draft is about “21 players strong” with first-round grades — which keeps both trading up and trading down options depending on who is around. Beyond those 21, Keim said players might be more high-second-round pick-types, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make an immediate impact for the Cardinals.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, draft, Steve Keim
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Whomever the Cardinals take at 24 Thursday night — assuming they keep No. 24, and again acknowledging it could go in a lot of different directions — history shows it can be a fruitful place to be picking. The last couple of 24s are still TBD — the Bengals taking CB Darqueze Dennard last year and the Colts taking DE Bjorn Werner in 2013 — but here’s a sampling of players taken at No. 24 since 2002: G David DeCastro, DE Cameron Jordan, WR Dez Bryant, RB Chris Johnson, QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Steven Jackson, TE Dallas Clark and S Ed Reed.
There have been a handful of other serviceable guys there too.
What GM Steve Keim will do when he’s on the clock remains up for debate. Barring someone they love falling, I’m guessing the first move will be to look into the trade down. Keim would love to get an extra pick, like he did last year to get the extra choice that provided him WR John Brown.
“I think there are going to be (pass) rushers go off the board quickly,” Keim said. “I think there are going to be (offensive) tackles that go off the board quickly. From there, it depends on what’s left. The good news is we put our (top) 130 together and there are 24 names we are excited about.”
OK, of course Keim is going to say he’s got 24 names the Cardinals are excited about, but that’s OK. He’ll make it work.
Tags: draft, Steve Keim
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OK, maybe it couldn’t go a million different ways. A million is a lot. But the closer the draft gets, it’s clear no one really has a good handle on how the picks will play out — and thus, no one has a good handle on who might be there for the Cardinals when pick No. 24 arrives. There are a lot of reasons for that. You have guys that would be locks to be top 10 or top 15 picks if not for off-field problems (Shane Ray, Randy Gregory, Dorial Green-Beckham.) You have a quarterback — probably Marcus Mariota, if you subscribe to the idea that the Bucs take Jameis Winston — that could go No. 2 but certainly seems to be anything but a sure thing, opening up the possibilities of trades very early. You have a ton of wide receivers that are talented and who goes before whom may come down to a matter of preference. You have probably the best running back dealing with a little thing called an ACL rehab, changing his stock.
There could be some serious talent sitting there for the Cards at No. 24. It may have an injury red flag or, more likely, a character red flag of some sort. This team desperately needs a good pass rusher, but they probably don’t need another linebacker who gets suspended. They could use a running back, but the draft is so deep with them, would they pass in the first round even if a Gurley or Gordon were there? (I’ve always thought yes, but I’ve been wrong before.)
Then there was this from the Voice of the Cardinals, Dave Pasch:
Final draft opinions: I still don’t think the Cardinals go RB at 24. Expect pass rusher, Offensive Tackle, Corner or WR/returner.
— Dave Pasch (@DavePasch) April 28, 2015
Pass rusher is not a surprise, nor is cornerback. And Pasch and I (and Kyle Odegard) discussed the reality of looking offensive line a couple weeks ago. Steve Keim is still looking to solidify the group up front to turn them into a unit that can grind out a ground game (and keeping in mind RG Jonathan Cooper remains unproven and RT Bobby Massie is a free agent after the season.) So a tackle makes sense too.
But I guess I’d be surprised if a wide receiver were the pick. Then again, there are some significant game-breaking wideouts that can be had in this draft — it’s the strength of the 2015 class — and another playmaker that can catch/return is always welcome. This all also plays into the very real possibility of a trade-down-for-an-extra-pick scenario for Keim, something of which Keim loves to do. I know this, that picking at 24 can provide a surprise. Last year, the Cards didn’t shock by taking a safety, but I don’t think anyone saw Deone Bucannon ahead of time.
Tags: Dave Pasch, Deone Bucannon, Dorial Beckham-Green, draft, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon, Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, Steve Keim, Todd Gurley
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Crunching the numbers heading into the draft, the Cardinals currently have 72 players on their roster. With eight draft picks (for now), that leaves room for 10 undrafted rookies to be signed to reach the roster limit of 90 going into offseason work. (Phase 2, which is the first step of on-field stuff during the offseason, begins next week.) This does not include suspended linebacker Daryl Washington; if Washington were to be reinstated by the NFL, the Cardinals would have to find a roster spot for him if they did not release him. I still think it’s hard to believe they would release him after just paying him a $5 million bonus installment he was owed, but we’ll see.
There is a lot of room to maneuver with the roster, however. If they Cardinals trade for more draft picks — or trade away some of them — then the number of undrafted guys could shrink or grow. There is also a possibility the Cardinals could cut players already on the roster to make room for more undrafted rookies if the Cards feel they have a chance to improve the bottom section of the roster. That happened last year when a few guys were cut right after the draft.
The roster churn never ends with GM Steve Keim. He’s proven that. But we’re almost to the point where we will know the vast majority of the Cardinals’ roster for 2015. That’s when the football actually starts.
Tags: Daryl Washington, draft, Roster, Steve Keim, undrafted rookie free agents
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