The three quarterbacks of the Cardinals were at the facility today, doing a workout, hanging out and prepping for when the team can officially get started with new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris next week. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, a cohesive group all last season, looked like it again and made me think of something Bruce Arians told me a couple of months ago. “You have a (quarterbacks) room, (and) if you have a starter and you know who the backup is and you have a third guy who fits in the room, you don’t fool with it,” Arians said. “It’s too delicate of a learning place to fool with it.”
In the context of what the Cardinals might do in the draft, it’s a notable belief. Palmer said today he would understand if the Cardinals picked a quarterback in the draft. He’s not getting any younger, and the Cards would like to have a long-term answer at the position. What team wouldn’t? Arians is a major part of the draft meetings and he of course will have input on the top 120 board. But GM Steve Keim will have the final call, and like any GM viewing the big picture — which Keim most certainly does — settling on a young quarterback would be nice, to say the least.
Is there a guy in this draft worth it? Keim might think so, but he won’t be saying, wisely. Draft meetings are going on about 25 feet from me but there’s no way to know what this group of QBs will be graded by this scouting staff and front office. One thing that is interesting in this situation: Palmer is going to be due an extension after this season, and there is a large difference between paying a starting quarterback what Palmer would command (he’s getting $9 million this season) and what a guy under a rookie contract would cost. I don’t think that’s a determining factor (I don’t think the Cardinals would have a problem with Palmer as 2015 starting QB, assuming his level of play remains solid) but it is something to consider.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals, like every team, have a bunch of draft-eligible players visit this time of year. You can have up to 30 come to the team facility, and that doesn’t count players from local colleges or who already live in the area, nor does it count any private workouts a coach or a front-office exec might have by flying out to meet a player. This is, of course, on top of pro days and the combine, where teams have 15 minutes to meet with up to 60 players.
So what does it mean when a player visits Tempe before the draft? Odds are, nothing.
To be sure, players are coming through. (I ran into a couple downstairs the other day. No, I have no idea who they were.) But visits have never meant a ton to me. I remember Levi Brown saying he had no idea the Cards were going to draft him because they hadn’t talked to him beforehand. (No snide remarks, please.) If you just do the math — 25 or 30 visits, plus all the combine guys, plus private workouts, like the one recently by Bruce Arians of Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas that was put out there publicly by the school — that’s at least, what 65 or 70 (assuming possible duplicates)? All that for six draft picks, at least as of right now.
The Big Lead did an interesting article this morning about the topic. When you look at all the guys that are known to take visits last year, the vast majority are never drafted by teams. That’s not a surprise, but it’s also why it makes no sense to worry much about who is coming in. The “visit” tracker TBL used isn’t complete at all, it only listed 10 players the Cardinals met with pre-draft last year. But of the 10, the Cards took only one — Tyrann Mathieu. Quarterbacks were on the list, but the Cards passed on Ryan Nassib and Mike Glennon more than once. The Patriots had 43 players known on the visit list last year, and they drafted none of them.
(Quick side note: Some teams announce what players visit, some don’t. For some it’s easier to find out for reporters. When I first started covering the Cards, the team not only announced who visited, but we were allowed to interview them. I remember doing that on the 2001 visits of Leonard Davis and defensive lineman Gerard Warren.)
Again, visits may provide info, but it’s impossible to know what information a team is trying to glean. It’s even possible a team brings in a player to purposely intimate interest when there is none — love the draft smokescreens. In the end, the speculation can be fun but it’s usually fruitless, given all the variables involved.
Tags: draft, Levi Brown, Tyrann Mathieu
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A little of this, a little of that …
– Kurt Warner captured by TMZ talking about Arizona vs. St. Louis. “I probably feel more allegiance to Arizona than St. Louis, just because of the fact there are a number of people that are still there, teammates or in the upper levels (of the organization), being the last place I played, I still live there, there is probably a little more allegiance there,” Warner said. “But still a huge fan of St. Louis and I thank them for everything they gave me.”
I’ve been asked before whether Warner, if and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, would go in as a Cardinal or a Ram. Moot point. Players don’t pick a team for their bust, like you do in the baseball Hall. I just like the fact Warner showed up on TMZ.
– As far back as when Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Cards Bruce Arians was talking about how he had “inside and outside capabilities” at linebacker. Last year, the Cards needed him outside. Now, they need him inside, so it’s no surprise to hear that’s where they are going to play him. It’s highly likely the Cards look at outside linebacker/pass rusher again in the draft (you keep taking those guys when you are building a 3-4 and you don’t have a dynamic, young pass rusher) and depth is needed inside. You don’t know if/how long Daryl Washington might be suspended, you don’t know if Kevin Minter will be the answer. Alexander, who has played inside earlier in his career in Washington, provides depth and a guy who can spot start.
– I’ve been asked a couple of times whether the signings of LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley means the Cards would be less likely to draft a cornerback. No. I thought that when they signed and that’s just underscored with the news yesterday that both two-year deals the players signed did not include a signing bonus. In other words, they can be released without any cap penalty, and in the offseason and a fluid roster, there are often a player or two signed that don’t even get to training camp. I’m not saying that’s Lewis or Whitley, but the bottom line, they are no locks either.
– Virginia Tech tweeted out photos of Arians working out QB Logan Thomas yesterday. What does it mean? It means the Cards are doing due diligence. Beyond that, please don’t get too riled up. I’d want to see what the kid could do too, especially since he’s about as raw as they come even with his considerable physical tools. The annual workout/pre-draft visit caveat: Just because the team meets/works out a guy, it doesn’t mean they are interested. I know of past connections done specifically when they knew they didn’t like the guy just as a smokescreen. And you never know how the meeting/workout went anyway — the Cards may find out they don’t like the kid for one reason or another.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, draft, Eddie Whitley, Kevin Minter, Kurt Warner, LeQuan Lewis, Logan Thomas, Lorenzo Alexander, Roster
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The Cards have made a couple of trades in the past year that included draft picks and possible draft picks, but as of right now, the team’s selections are pretty straightforward: The 20th pick in each of the first six rounds, with no seventh round choice after it was dealt to Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.
– First round (20th overall)
– Second round (52nd)
– Third round (84th)
– Fourth (120th)
– Fifth (160th)
– Sixth (196th)
As GM Steve Keim has proven, he will make trades. Given the six choices, any Cardinals trade is probably going to be to move down instead of up, in order to gain an extra choice or two. Last year, wheeling and dealing gained the Cardinals eight total picks, dealing down (and still picking up LB Kevin Minter in the second round) and ending up with bonus fourth- and sixth-round picks. Those netted them Earl Watford and Andre Ellington, and if Watford ends up starting this year, that could be some very sound trading. (Ellington alone might make this true.)
Tags: Andre Ellington, draft, Earl Watford, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals’ initial foray into free agency was offense-heavy. Not a big shock, since that side of the ball need the most work. As the draft approaches, however, the focus may just shift. Because even though Bruce Arians is an offensive guy, GM Steve Keim has a belief that the good teams in this salary cap work have a dominant side of the ball. And the Cardinals — with the No. 1 rush defense and the sixth-ranked defense overall — aren’t in that realm on the offensive side of the ball.
“Seattle was a dominant defense with a solid offense,” Keim said. “Denver was a dominant offense with an OK defense. In our situation, we are closer to having a dominant defense. So I think you have to continue to throw gas on the fire. Continue to build the strength.”
That’s why cornerback Antonio Cromartie shot to the top of the to-do list after he was cut by the Jets. The move surprised the Cards — they did not think New York would let him go — but rallied to understand the situation and aggressively court him. It was only a one-year contract, but the team proved last year with linebacker Karlos Dansby that could be a golden type of situation. There are still spots defensively that need shoring up (like the need for a safety or inside linebacker depth), and there is also Keim’s quest to get longer and more athletic with his 3-4 defensive ends and the pass rushers outside. The draft could very well provide those things. But when you start looking at the top end talent on the roster, it is the defense that claims many of the spots, whether it is Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell or Daryl Washington. (Or even, as Ron Wolfley points out, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who fortunately for the Cards did not get a head coaching job.)
The offense isn’t going to be ignored — “We know we have areas we need to fix and it certainly needs to catch up with the defense,” Keim said — but a defensive juggernaut is the first goal. It’s what has put the Seahawks and 49ers into the stratosphere they are in, and why the Cards returned to relevance last season.
Tags: 49ers, Antonio Cromartie, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, defense, draft, Patrick Peterson, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
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A few things as the owners meetings continue in Florida and things around the Cardinals’ Tempe complex have slowed down considerably:
– The Cardinals, as expected, did not receive a compensatory draft pick, meaning they still have six selections in May’s draft (the seventh round pick went to Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.) The first three picks are No. 20, No. 52 and No. 84 overall. It is not surprising the Cards didn’t get any comp picks.
A quick review: Teams get comp picks based on a formula that starts with the free agents signed and free agents lost from the previous offseason. Included in the NFL’s secret formula are the size of the contracts signed by those players and various honors they earn that season. So the comp picks for the 2014 draft are based on the 2013 offseason, and so forth. If you come out “negatively” in the formula and seem to have lost more than you gained in free agency, you get as many as four extra comp picks. Those picks can come at the end of the third round at the earliest and cannot be traded.
Looking ahead, there will be a chance the Cards could come up with a comp pick next year. It’ll depend on the rest of the offseason and what all these players do. Something to keep in mind: Only true free agents — those whose contracts expired — count in the formula. That means the Cards’ signings of tight end John Carlson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie will not hurt them because those players were free because they were released, not because their contracts ran out. On the flip side, if Daryn Colledge signs somewhere, he won’t help the cause.
So for those scoring at home, the Cards (in comp pick math) have added Jared Veldheer, Ted Ginn, Ted Larsen and Jonathan Dwyer. They have lost Karlos Dansby, Andre Roberts, Javier Arenas, Antoine Cason and Jim Dray. Veldheer signed a pricey contract, but so did Dansby and Roberts. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
– The NFL will be tweaking a few rules. The biggest one is outlawing the dunk of the football on the goalpost. There’s been a lot of blowback on this, but truthfully, as soon as Jimmy Graham bent the crossbar last season and delayed a game while it was fixed, you knew it was a matter of time before the NFL said no more.
Also coming is the ability for a central replay booth based in New York to begin video replays before a referee even gets under the hood, hopefully to speed up the process and to let the official know for what exactly to be looking. The referee on-site will still make the final call.
Tags: compensatory picks, draft, free agency, owners meetings, rules
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The Cardinals have filled multiple holes in the process of free agency. And that is exactly the point. Building through the draft is the ultimate priority, but usually you aren’t going to have enough picks in one offseason to do that in the draft alone. So GM Steve Keim found a left tackle, a tight end, an extra running back, depth at center/guard, a speed receiver, a starting cornerback. The point? So that when the Cards are picking at 20 come May 8, they aren’t feeling forced to take a left tackle. Or speed receiver. Or anything else.
“As we get further along in this process over the next couple of years, I would like to minimize how much we do in free agency,” Keim said. “Our whole goal as an organization is to be able to go in, whether the 20th pick, the 52nd pick or the 84th, whatever the pick is, that we can sit and look in the mirror and say we are taking the best player available and the guy who helps the Cardinals the most. I think, through, free agency, we’ve afforded ourselves to do that.”
Keim would like playmakers in the draft — who doesn’t — and after scoring with Tyrann Mathieu and Andre Ellington last season, the Cards have done that of late. It will of course be better if they come at certain positions. For instance, a playmaking safety who can cover tight ends would be nice. An edge rusher who can get to the quarterback. Needs don’t completely disappear, even with an effective free-agent period.
Tags: draft, free agency, Steve Keim
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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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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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