The Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs but they did win 10 games, which gave Arizona the lowest draft pick of any of the non-playoff teams at No. 20. But that couldn’t have come at a better time, since NFL people have been raving about how deep the draft is.
It certainly helps that a record 98 underclassmen declared for the draft, which automatically would make it better. Still, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is the deepest draft that I’ve ever seen,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “I wouldn’t say the deepest draft before the underclassmen came in, but even during the fall our scouts were talking that the senior class was a pretty good class.”
It’s been suggested that a top 20 pick in this draft is just as good as a top 10 pick in last year’s draft the pool is so deep (and last year’s, not so much.) With Cardinals general manager Steve Keim continuing to stress he wants to build the bulk of the roster through the draft — and with the Cardinals still trying to find some roster bargains because of tighter cap issues — another Andre-Ellington-in-the-sixth-round find would be nice.
The Cardinals don’t have a seventh-round pick this year. With the depth available, and the way Keim operated last year, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see the Cards trade down at some point (not necessarily in the first round) to try and pick up at least one more extra choice.
Tags: draft, Steve Keim
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Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admits he could move up in the draft. But he certainly doesn’t sound like someone who plans on it.
“It all depends on whether you are in striking distance of a player you covet,” Keim said. “Anytime you are moving up you have to sacrifice what you give up for them. Sometimes if you are talking about moving up four or five spots, you are talking about a fourth or fifth round pick, (and) we covet all our picks.”
“If you had to ask me what my philosophy is, last year is a perfect example,” Keim added, referencing last year’s second-round trade down. “I’m in the business of trying to acquire picks rather than give them up.”
– Missouri defensive end (or possible 3-4 linebacker) Michael Sam — who came out publicly as gay a couple of weeks ago — came through the media room Saturday and had most heavily attended media session that I can ever remember, and there have been big ones over the years with Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Manti Te’o. There was a big crowd for Johnny Manziel, but not like the one for Sam.
– Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton said his stamina was not as good as a senior as it had been as a junior, despite winning a second straight Pac-12 defensive player of the year award. Sutton played at 280 in 2012 and was more than 300 last year. Teams wanted to know why.
“They just ask me what led into the weight gain, and I just say I was just listening to too many outside sources,” Sutton said. “I was playing at a high level at 280. I shouldn’t have changed what I did, what I was good at. But everything happens for a reason. So I’m just getting back down to it (weight) now, really learning the ropes of nutrition, a little dieting, eating real healthy.”
Interestingly, Sutton said the ASU coaches weren’t the ones who wanted him to gain wait. Sutton said those “outside sources” were the media, from which he heard that he’d need to be heavier to make it in the NFL.
Tags: draft, Michael Sam, Steve Keim, Will Sutton
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Patrick Peterson is a Pro Bowler, and with Jerraud Powers, the Cardinals are “very solid” at starting cornerback, coach Bruce Arians said. Tyrann Mathieu, when he finally returns from his knee injury, will work the slot. But, especially given the Mathieu question mark, there will be depth questions heading into free agency with both Javier Arenas and Antoine Cason at unrestricted status.
The Cardinals will have to bring in somebody. But the wild card is someone who is already on the roster, and who has already made a Pro Bowl.
“I think the guy who really should make the big move is Justin Bethel,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s as talented probably as Patrick. He just has to start believing it and play corner the way he plays special teams and we’ll really be set back there.”
During the season, Bethel said he felt like he already was ready to contribute on defense. He’s incredibly valuable as a Pro Bowl special teamer. Could he become something similar as a cornerback? I don’t know if it is fair to compare him, even talent-wise, to Peterson, but Bethel does look the part and had a steeper learning curve coming out of tiny Presbyterian College.
– One other note from Arians, who said every player who is rehabbing injuries is on schedule save for linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who suffered a right foot Lisfranc injury. “I’m a little concerned with Lorenzo’s foot right now,” Arians said. “Hopefully it will show improvement.”
Tags: Antoine Cason, Bruce Arians, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Lorenzo Alexander, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Bobby Massie finished his 2012 rookie season playing pretty well at right tackle after a horrendous start to his career. He seemed like a natural piece of the 2013 offensive line, until the Cards signed veteran Eric Winston as training camp began. Over the season, Massie eventually got a few snaps at right tackle, but he never displaced Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent. If Winston comes back, Massie will be his competition. Massie isn’t playing guard or on the left side, as the Cardinals try to improve the offensive line.
“(Bobby) is a right tackle,” Arians said. “He’s not a left tackle. We experimented with that and he struggled with it. He’s a right tackle and he’s talented. The biggest thing right now is to be more consistent every day in his work habits.”
Does Massie fit in to the 2014 starting line? He very well could. But so much is up in the air, and it goes well beyond Massie and Winston. It’s assumed, and probably not incorrectly, that the Cardinals will seek an offensive lineman or two in free agency. It’s likely they will look into Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert if he reaches free agency (Kansas City GM John Dorsey said Friday the Chiefs have talked to Albert’s agent at the combine about an extension) and reports surfaced Friday that the Cards might also look into Rams tackle.guard Rodger Saffold (Rams GM Les Snead said Friday re-signing Saffold was a priority.)
It is realistic to think the Cards could have new starters at four of five positions on the line by the time games count in 2014 (center Lyle Sendlein is likely safe.). It’s also possible the line doesn’t change. Friday, Arians wouldn’t commit to the Cards having a new player in the lineup (other than the return of injured guard Jonathan Cooper), saying only the line needed to get bigger and stronger.
“Whether it is adding pieces to the puzzle or improving the players we have, we have Coop back, Earl (Watford) to the development, you add those two young guards will make us more athletic and create good competition with the veterans,” Arians said. “We are looking at adding pieces, one tackle, two, whatever we find is best to fit our locker room.”
The Cardinals also probably want to get cheaper at parts of the line, especially if they pay a premium for a free agent. That too can impact the equation — and make a guy like Massie more attractive.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Branden Albert, Bruce Arians, Eric Winston, offensive line, Rodger Saffold, Scouting combine
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The best tight end in the NFL? Bruce Arians doesn’t name Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. He picks Heath Miller. “Not because he catches 90 passes,” the Cardinals’ coach said at the Scouting combine Friday. “But because he blocks big defensive ends.”
Herein lies the Arians philosophy on tight ends, and why those guys piling up catch totals in spread college offenses might not be the guy the Cardinals will want going forward: “Tight ends for me block first, catch second,” Arians said.
Those guys are pretty rare these days. Rob Housler was a catch-first guy when he was drafted, and while he isn’t great blocker, Arians said he has leaned to block “adequately.” The Cardinals need tight ends, depending on the free agents they might bring back. Arians does believe a pass-catcher can be taught to block, but they have to have the right body type and they have to be willing to do it. “A lot of guys are not willing to stick their face in the fan,” Arians said with a chuckle.
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is considered a catch-first tight end and probable high draft pick who flourished in Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo offense. But Amaro said when Tommy Tuberville was coaching Tech, Amaro had to block first.
“I think it’s just a want-to thing,” Amaro said. “I’ve always had the technique; I’ve always had the drive. When I’m asked to block, I know I can block. I feel like it’s something that’s very overlooked of what I can do and then it’s something I’m going to have to show at the next level. But I know I’m willing to.”
It’s something that’s going to come up with any of the highly rated college tight ends. And it’s something Arians and the Cardinals are going to have to believe before they draft one, especially with a high pick.
“It’s such a unique position,” Arians said. “The best tight ends never go to the Pro Bowl because the best tight ends don’t catch 80 passes or 90 passes. Those are wide receivers.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Heath Miller, Rob Housler, Scouting combine
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In much different ways, the immediate football future of both running back Ryan Williams and linebacker Daryl Washington remains in a bit of limbo. Williams, the 2011 second-round pick whose first two seasons were all but a wash because of injuries, barely made the roster this season but ended up inactive for all 16 games. Washington, who was suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy, came back to play well and help anchor the league’s sixth-ranked defense. But Washington was arrested for assault of an ex-girlfriend last offseason, and the case is still winding its way through the court system. Washington’s next court date is scheduled for April and he could face a league suspension again depending on the result — but he also has a big bonus due him next month.
With each of those situations in context, General Manager Steve Keim talked about each with azcardinals.com:
– On Ryan Williams: “Ryan is a tremendous talent,” Keim said. “He’s a guy who still, on the practice field, shows us the movement skills, the run ability, the change of direction is fantastic. Obviously he has had to battle injuries, which has probably been his biggest issue. And last year, bringing in Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington and the impact both of those players made instantly put Ryan on the backburner.
“He’s a guy we still have hopes for. He’s still got the ability and I think Bruce (Arians) just wants him to put it all together.”
Williams is due a salary just north of $1 million this season, with a cap hit of $1.5M. Releasing him would save $1 million. Keim talked up Taylor Thursday, and it seems at this point an Ellington/Taylor duo is more probable than Ellington/Williams, but Keim made it sound like Williams isn’t going anywhere for now.
– As for Washington, “Nothing new,” Keim said. “We monitor everything when it comes to his off-field stuff. Rick Knight, our (vice president) of security, handles a lot of that. Daryl was a guy who made mistakes in the past and he’s (owned) up to those. He’s done a fantastic job in terms of his work ethic and being accountable. We hope to get everything resolved shortly and look forward to a huge year out of Daryl in 2014.”
That the Cardinals would have no doubt of keeping around one of their best players is not a surprise. Washington said after the season he was hoping it would get cleared up soon, but he always talked like he planned on being a long-term Cardinal and that shouldn’t change.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim
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Around the draft, it’s not unusual for a team or its decision makers to put out smokescreens ahead of time. No reason not to try and throw people off, right?
But General Manager Steve Keim said Thursday, when asked about if he had a certain plan to dole out misinformation, said he wasn’t that guy.
“I may be the wrong one to ask because clarity may be one of my issues,” Keim said. “I have a tendency to say what’s on my mind. My philosophy moving forward with players is that as well, I try to be honest with them. It’s not always what they want to hear but I think it’s necessary to build that kind of trust. Trust with your media, trust with your coaching staff and trust with your players is try to be as clear as you can.”
So, that being the case, will I be surprised if the Cardinals go ahead at take an offensive or defensive linemen — the positions Keim has tended to mention first when asked about what the Cards need — with the first-round pick? No.
Then again, maybe Keim’s claim of clarity is a smokescreen. Hey, you never know.
Tags: draft, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
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It was inevitable, probably, that Steve Keim was asked about the future of running back Andre Ellington and whether he would be the “featured” running back. This has been covered many times, and Keim answered it no different today.
“When you say featured back, I don’t know that there are many featured backs in the NFL,” Keim said. “Adrian Peterson, those types of guys. Most teams use a platoon of backs and that would probably be no different than us. Andre, the way he’s built, is body type, is more in line with Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles. His speed and acceleration, his movement skills, that’s his strength.
“To say you’re going to play him 25 to 35 snaps, pounding the ball between the tackles, you’re probably leaving yourself open to injuries. So any time, we can take a young man like him, add some weight without losing his speed and movement skills, I think you’re doing yourself a favor.”
I do think Keim (below talking to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) misspoke. I would think Ellington will definitely get 25-to-35 snaps. He will probably get the majority of the offensive snaps at running back. He won’t get 25 to 35 carries, however. He’s going to split time with someone, though. It’ll probably be Stepfan Taylor. It still in theory could be Ryan Williams (more on that later.) Maybe Rashad Mendenhall comes back. But Ellington, even if he as expected builds on his 199-pound frame and gets stronger, is going to share time. That’s Keim’s philosophy and it’s Bruce Arians’ philosophy.
– Keim, who long ago dismissed the Larry Fitzgerald-to-the-Patriots trade rumors, seemed to have a one-liner ready when asked about it today:
“I was trying to find someone to fire,” Keim said. “Because they never called me.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Steve Keim
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For 42 seasons and 838 games, John Omohundro worked as an athletic trainer for the Cardinals. In 36 of those seasons as the head athletic trainer. His final game, with his last season spent as a consultant to the team, was the Super Bowl. Part of the reason Omohundro retired when he did was to take care of his wife, Martha, who suffered from Alzheimer’s before passing away last year.
Wednesday here in Indianapolis at the Scouting combine, the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) — of which Omohundro was a charter member when it was created in 1982 — gave Omohundro their annual alumni award. It’s given every year to a former member who has contributed to the profession and in life after the NFL. Not only did Omohundro remain loyal to the Cardinals all those years, he did the same with his wife through her difficult time.
PFATS has also decided to create a new honor in his name to go toward those who show such compassion, and will call it the “John Omohundro Big Heart Award.”
That only makes sense for a guy who spent his entire professional life taking care of others — like he did with Kurt Warner in 2007, fitting the quarterback with a special elbow brace so Warner wouldn’t miss a start despite an ugly Julius Peppers-induced injury.
Tags: John Ohmohundro
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Now posted is the second installment of the “Tenacious” video series (click here), which follows the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu. This episode is titled “No Room For Pity,” which is essentially Mathieu’s attitude toward many things in his life. A couple of interesting quotes:
– Mathieu said that, even at age 14, he “always believed” he’d be a star. “Even if it was (as) a garbageman or a teacher, I was going to be one hell of a garbageman.”
– Mathieu, on mentally dealing with the injury: “I don’t feel the need to cry. I haven’t reached that moment where I am depressed and bummed out. Hopefully I can stay intact mentally.”
Tags: Tyrann Mathieu
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