General Manager Steve Keim mentioned yesterday about the fine line evaluating players and, more specifically, not wanting to overevaluate them. With so much time between the end of the season and the draft, that is a concern.
But both he and coach Bruce Arians agree it is the play on the college football field above all else that should be driving these player grades.
“I don’t grade anybody down at the (Scouting) combine,” Arians said. “The tape doesn’t lie. If a guy plays football fast and doesn’t run fast at the combine, that means he carries his pads pretty well. … I don’t believe in working out in shorts because the game is not played in shorts.”
Keim, not surprisingly, referred back to Anquan Boldin — he of the relatively slow 40 time when he was at the combine in 2003 (the 4.7 range) — and yet became a Pro Bowl receiver from his first game in the NFL.
“As much as combine numbers mean to you, and sometimes our guys will get enamored with a guy who ran a (tremendous) 6.55 three-cone, you have to remind them, unfortunately, at 1 o’clock on Sunday, we don’t get to run a three-cone drill,” Keim said, adding that the evaluator has to ask, “What are his compensating abilities” for whatever shortcomings he might have.
That doesn’t mean someone with an impressive combine gets thrown out, even if his stats weren’t great in college. Again, the evaluation is about what the team sees on video. Production counts but it isn’t the whole picture. The player had to have shown something in real games. It sounds simple. But every team doesn’t always adhere to it.
– Really good read from Josh Weinfuss collecting an oral history of various Cardinals players from their time around the draft.
– Safety James Sanders, who wasn’t going to return this year after his one year on the Cardinals, has been suspended the first four games of the NFL season.
– And with that, I am headed to this evening’s Tweetup with SI’s Peter King, Arians, Keim and a host of players downtown at Tom’s Tavern as we raise funds for a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Tomorrow, I’ll be running in Pat’s Run at ASU. Hope to see some of you.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, James Sanders, Pat's Run, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals held their pre-draft press conference today. Safe to say the schedule release in a couple of hours will hold bigger news. That’s natural. There isn’t anything that is going to be said of major consequence ahead of time. That was crystallized when GM Steve Keim was asked how many offensive linemen he had graded as first-round picks.
Keim paused before finally answering.
“Well, I could tell you, but it probably wouldn’t be the truth,” Keim said, eliciting laughs. “So I’d prefer not to answer that one.”
There were no major tells in the 17 minutes Keim and Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke. They reiterated they didn’t want to be forcing any picks, especially in the first round. The Top 120 board isn’t quite finished but “the hay is almost in the barn,” Keim said. They don’t bother paying much attention to all the draft stuff floating out there because they know it doesn’t mean much. Smokescreens. “It’s fun to watch all the prognosticators change their mock drafts every two hours,” Arians said.
The larger scouting staff generated 3,100 scouting reports and the Cards’ coaching staff added another 287, Keim said. That’s a lot of paperwork to shift through. Keim said the draft is deep for safeties, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and pass rushers. That works well for a team that could use safeties, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and pass rushers like the Cardinals. Arians repeated his thoughts from last month that he thinks “four or five” of the quarterbacks, while they might not have the “Wow” factor, will have long careers of some sort in the NFL. Those guys are hurt because they are following the 2012 draft class of QBs, Arians said.
Mostly though, it’ll be a waiting game until next Thursday to see what the Cards are going to do. There weren’t any real hints today.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, Steve Keim
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One of the clichés that always floats around at draft time is that a team never ever ever should fall in love with a player. I mean, if you’re picking No. 1, fine. But otherwise, there is always a risk that said player or players isn’t going to be there. And you don’t want to be disappointed or let the emotion of losing out on such a crush drive you to do something dumb when you are on the clock.
That crossed my mind this morning when NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock talked about what has become a growing sentiment — that all three high-end offensive tackles available: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson — will all be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. Let’s make this clear, no one knows for sure the Cards even like all three at that point, although it stands to reason they do. For a while, it was people thinking Fisher would be there and Joeckel wouldn’t. Then it was Fisher being gone and Johnson being the consideration. But there is a strong likelihood that the Chiefs take Joeckel at No. 1 (KC wants to trade Branden Albert) and the Eagles (No. 4) and the Lions (No. 5) both easily could take the other two tackles. Even if one lasts to No. 6, the next scenario could be the Browns trading out of No. 6 to the Chargers or Dolphins, both of whom need a left tackle like Johnson (pictured below).
Now, the Dolphins are talking with the Chiefs about the Albert trade, which would take them out of the mix. But the Chargers, picking 11th, could try to jump up (with Ken Whisenhunt’s new team potentially stealing a tackle out from under his old team.)
What does this all mean? Well, this is operating under the assumption the Cards are focusing on a tackle. That was the thought last year too and they took Michael Floyd over Riley Reiff, so there’s that. I don’t see the Cards trading up and surrendering a pick, although I’m not positive on that. If all the tackles are off the board in the top five, I could definitely see the Cards trying to trade down a little, although other than the tackles, I don’t know who would trade up. And again, if three tackles go off the board that early, someone is sitting there that hadn’t been expected. Will it be someone the Cards want?
– As long as we are talking about potential picks at No. 7, we have our annual mock draft contest ready for play right here. Hope you decide to take a crack at who you think the Cardinals will select.
Tags: Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, draft, Eagles, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Lions, Luke Joeckel, Michael Floyd, Riley Reiff
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
A couple of years ago, the NFL began a program in which alumni of teams would come on stage in New York during the draft to announce that team’s second-round draft pick. It made sense. Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the first round and, in this world where the NFL draft continues to grow in stature every year it seems (and as a TV event), why not have some famous retired faces up on the screen as a nod to years past? (If a team doesn’t have a second-round pick, the player announces the third rounder.)
This year, the Cardinals will be represented by fullback Larry Centers, the do-everything-man from the 1990s who was one of the faces of the Cardinals’ historic 1998 playoff run. (He was also the face of the change that team underwent the following offseason, when he was cut much to the chagrin of the fan base, but that’s a tale for another day.) Centers was the offense much of the time, growing from his rookie year in 1990 to grabbing 101 receptions in 1995 and another 99 in 1996 and getting in some rushing attempts along the way (he was never a rushing workhorse but he did have 115 carries one season, a far cry with how fullbacks are used these days.) He was a three-time Pro Bowler, twice doing it in Arizona.
After he was released, he played in Buffalo, Washington and New England, but it’s hard to see him as anything but a Cardinal. The news today reminds me of one of my all-time favorite anecdotes told to me by Kent Somers (I promise, Kent, I was thinking of this before today’s tweet) from the time before I was covering the team. Kent was talking to Centers one day when the all-around star offered up his own catchy slogan: “Larry runs, Larry catches, Larry blocks, Larry Centers.”
Tags: draft, Larry Centers
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The NFL released the college players who have decided to take the league up on their invitation to attend the draft in New York City in a couple of weeks. It’s always a dicey proposition for some of the players. It’s safe to say Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel and Sharrif Floyd will be top 12 picks, for instance. Their wait is going to be relatively short. But there are many who won’t attend, some because they’d rather be with family (That’s what Larry Fitzgerald chose a decade ago) and some because they’d rather not take the chance to be sitting around into the second round, the cameras capturing their disappointment. (That could be a reason USC QB Matt Barkley took a pass.) No one will ever forget Aaron Rodgers, potential No. 1 pick, waiting all the way until pick No. 24 (in a days of 15-minutes for each first-round selection) and getting more and more frustrated.
In the end, 23 players decided to go to New York. Are they all first-round locks? Hardly. But there is something to be said about the experience regardless. That’s what Ryan Williams thinks. When he came out in 2011, he was invited to the draft. He jumped at the chance. He acknowledges now that even if he hoped to go in the first round, had he been realistic his final season at Virginia Tech — with injuries and sharing the backfield with two other players — probably cost him any chance going in. That didn’t make waiting around Thursday night without being called any easier.
“I wasn’t thinking about what anybody was saying about me sitting back there,” Williams recalled. “I only played a year-and-a-half of football (in college). I couldn’t complain about anything that happened that day.”
That’s with time as perspective, of course. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t upset at the time, and at first he didn’t really want to return to Radio City Music Hall the next night as the second round got under way. A father figure for Williams (Williams’ father is in prison) wouldn’t let Williams stay away. “Make sure you walk that stage,” he told Williams, “because you’ll remember it the rest of your life.”
So too would the 26 people Williams had with him, from his mother — whom Williams gives all credit to getting him to where he is — to family to his friends. “I wanted not only myself but the people I am closest with to be able to experience something like that,” Williams said. “To this day, my boys and I still talk about it. I kind of did it for myself and for everybody.”
It didn’t hurt that Williams is from upstate New York and wanted to be able to go home. He was picked 38th overall to the Cardinals, and still remembers meeting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage, taking pictures, and then having the whole group meet him in that moment. So now, asked if he’d encourage a college kid coming out to go to New York if invited — even if the first round was a question mark — Williams doesn’t hesitate. “Heck yeah.”
“If you’re invited, go,” Williams said. “It’s something you’ll remember. Why not? … That meant a lot to me. Hey, everyone is different. If it doesn’t mean as much, or if staying home with the family means more, I get it. But if it’s a dream come true (to be on that stage), go.”
Tags: draft, Ryan Williams
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The Cardinals finally added an offensive lineman in free agency Wednesday, signing veteran guard Chilo Rachal. What does that mean for the line going forward? Something. And nothing.
Adding parts that can help in some way, shape or form — starter or depth — has been one of the mantras for General Manager Steve Keim. Rachal could end up as either. So obviously, his arrival carries that significance. But it isn’t going to impact the draft. If the Cardinals decide, for instance, Chance Warmack is their guy at No. 7, they’ll take him and figure it out from there. If they want to take a tackle like Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson and move Bobby Massie to guard, they will do that too. If their top pick is a pass rusher, maybe we see a line of LT Brown, LG Colledge, C Sendlein, RT Massie and a battle between Snyder and Rachal. Or there could be an offensive lineman chosen in the second round or third round — or maybe even later — who could be part of the mix.
At this point, there are dozens of ways this can go, and the Cardinals have set it up just so they have that flexibility. I could see them letting a veteran go in a June 1 move if they felt they had enough other pieces for their puzzle. Certainly Keim has shown he isn’t afraid to make such moves. I’m not certain there couldn’t be a veteran offensive lineman added later in the offseason either.
(The Cardinals, prior to the Rachal signing I would guess, had $9.496 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday according to the NFLPA.)
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Cardinals and the draft. The braintrust has reiterated a few times how deep in offensive line talent this class is, beyond just the top 10. Will it shock me to see them pick a player that isn’t an offensive lineman? Absolutely not. Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Keim believes in a difference-maker at the top. That doesn’t mean a difference-maker can’t be an offensive lineman if his grades are the right ones, but I truly believe the idea of reaching there for need over a guy graded much better makes Keim’s stomach turn.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Chance Warmack, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, draft, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, salary cap, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 45 Comments »
It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.
“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”
So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?
Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.
(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)
The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.
Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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Last week at the owners meetings, GM Steve Keim was anxious to get them over with. He was going straight to the airport after the meetings closed on Wednesday and flying right to Georgia’s pro day among other destinations. Free agency was the topic still but that was about to morph. Soon. “We will jump into the draft mode because I feel I am significantly behind,” Keim said.
At his core, Keim is about evaluating talent. There are different ways someone rises to the job of general manager, and Keim got there from years of scouting and doing a good job of it. It makes sense he wouldn’t want to turn back on his roots. What will eventually be interesting is whether Keim’s influence on the Top 120 board for the draft changes much than it was when he was VP of player personnel under GM Rod Graves. The point of the Cardinals having draft meetings is for scouts and coaches — and further up the food chain, Keim — to discuss and debate what they think of each player and then come up with a final grade. That’s the number the group will use to set that board and in the end, draft their players.
Mocks will come out constantly in April. The latest Todd McShay version echoes the narrative the Cardinals’ direction has taken overall, which is that the team seems unlikely to take a quarterback first (and in McShay’s picks, Geno Smith — the one guy who seems to make sense as a top 10 pick, is already chosen by No. 7). McShay has Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson going in the first round to the Cards and then the team taking N.C. State QB Mike Glennon in the second round. Good discussion fodder. Beyond that, who knows.
Keim, though, forges ahead in his work. Nothing is set in stone right now. For a guy who built an NFL career through the draft, it makes sense that he’ll want his team built that way too. I still think a QB is going to be taken somewhere, but that comes with a caveat — I truly believe Keim would be willing to pass on a QB if the right one isn’t there. The Drew Stanton-in-2013 thing isn’t a lock — too much can still happen — but it’s not a smokescreen either. In the meantime, the Cards will look carefully at offensive linemen in a draft filled with them, try to get a key cog in the first round regardless of position, and go from there.
And while Keim might have felt behind last week, something tells me he will catch up very quickly.
Tags: draft, Geno Smith, Lane Johnson, Mike Glennon, Rod Graves, Steve Keim
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A) Your team needs a quarterback;
B) Your team has a top 10 pick;
So C) there is endless speculation about that team drafting a quarterback with their first-round selection.
The Cardinals are in that loop right now. Most of the early mock drafts (mockable totally in the sense that they are based on little but surface connect-the-dots) had the Cards taking quarterback with their first round pick, seventh overall. That seems to have slowed down of late, in large part because of coach Bruce Arians’ own words.
“I think all speculators look at need and not the draft board,” Arians said. “If you draft for need, you’re in trouble. Just because you need one you don’t take one, if there is a better player there who is going to help your football team.”
That doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t take a QB first. I think that’s being sorted out right now in a draft that many believe isn’t top-heavy in talent and is deep in offensive linemen. But it’s easy to see a scenario where the Cards go elsewhere than quarterback in the first round and save a QB pick for round two or three.
“If there is a quarterback who fits the spot in the draft that you put him in at, that fits the value, then you take one,” Arians said. “That’s why I feel very comfortable with our situation with Drew Stanton in our mix. The need value is not there.”
It is clear that Arians likes Stanton. But it also behooves him to talk him up because there is a chance, in this totally fluid time when no one knows how the draft will go or if another interesting veteran could come available, that Stanton will be the starter and then Arians will have expressed confidence in Stanton from the jump. That makes sense. But I still think that no matter how the rest of the QB roster shakes out the team will draft a QB.
It was suddenly big news that the Cardinals are working out N.C. State QB Mike Glennon but that shouldn’t shock anyone either. The Cards are going to do due diligence on every one of the top QBs and just because there will be a workout doesn’t mean a) they will draft him or b) they will even decide they like him enough. Is he in the mix? I think he could be, but that’s what this time of analysis is for. GM Steve Keim went to N.C. State and has his ties there, and the former coaches at the school did pick Glennon as their “guy” over Russell Wilson (which is why Wilson transferred to Wisconsin), so Glennon must be decent. But I don’t see he or any other QB going in the second round stepping in to be a rookie starter even if Keim and Arians like to get QBs work early.
The speculation is going to play out over and over until the draft actually starts (IMO, by the way, Geno Smith is gone by the seventh pick, so what will really be available early anyway?) But in a world right now where the Cardinals haven’t even started their draft meetings nor come close to setting there Top 120 board (I know I’ve said that before), this is all fluid.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, Drew Stanton, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, quarterbacks, Steve Keim
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In a moment, a couple of words about the Cardinals’ new Frostee, the defensive end that agreed to terms Thursday. First, though, the NFL officially released the order for April’s draft. The Cards, as we have said a few times, have seven picks: None in the seventh round, dealt away in the A.J. Jefferson trade, and two in the sixth round, received in the A.J. Jefferson trade. The lowdown:
– Round 1 – pick 7 overall
– Round 2 – pick 38 overall
– Round 3 – pick 69 overall
– Round 4 – pick 103 overall
– Round 5 – pick 140 overall
– Round 6 – pick 174 overall
– Round 6 – pick 176 overall (from the Titans through Minnesota).
I guess I could try and analyze those, but the picks are what they are, and all I can think of is the chance to get out of there somewhat early Saturday since (barring a trade, God, don’t let there be a trade) the Cards’ last choice is 176 and the draft runs 254 picks. No seventh rounder.
As for the Frostee Rucker signing, he brings a great name to the roster (it is indeed his given name) and some depth. It’s no coincidence that Rucker and Matt Shaughnessy, the two free agent defensive linemen signed, have been assigned uniform numbers 98 and 91, respectively, since they were worn by the men they are replacing, Nick Eason and Vonnie Holliday. They will rotate with Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, and the Cards have Dan Williams and David Carter in the middle. Rucker can also play some tackle (a la Eason) and Shaughnessy can play some standup off the edge. The draft could also hold something as well. Many have asked if this means something for Dockett, but I believe Dockett is here to stay in 2013. They think he can be a difference-maker, and obviously Campbell has grown into that role.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, draft, Frostee Rucker, Matt Shaughnessy
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