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
Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »
Each free agent signing brings with it immediate reaction, and that’s understandable. But the proper context isn’t always immediately there for the player and what will turn out to be his eventual role (see Stanton, Drew.) And even at the time, a signee was always seen as a reserve, and that is by design from General Manager Steve Keim.
“We not only got some starters but some key role players, guys who can come in and play 15 to 20 snaps, help keep fresh legs, and in a 60-minute game, to me, it’s extremely important to have quality depth,” Keim said.
He particularly noted the defensive line, to help with guys like nose tackle Dan Williams or defensive tackle Darnell Dockett if they get gassed. Keim likes the idea of bringing in Matt Shaughnessy and Frostee Rucker without having much of a dropoff. Looking at the veteran free agents the team has signed there definitely seems to be a mix:
– RB Rashard Mendenhall, starter
– QB Drew Stanton, reserve
– S Yeremiah Bell, TBD
– CB Jerraud Powers, TBD
– LB Lorenzo Alexander, TBD
– LB Jasper Brinkley, starter
– CB Antoine Cason, TBD
– DE Matt Shaughnessy, reserve
– DE Frostee Rucker, reserve
– S Jonathan Amaya, reserve
– G Chilo Rachal, reserve
Obviously either Powers or Cason will be a backup/nickel guy, because Patrick Peterson will be in there. I’d guess Alexander will be a reserve but he’ll get snaps on defense. Bell could end up as a backup if a high-end safety is drafted, but he’s slated to start for now and Rachal’s spot could be impacted with the draft too depending on how the offensive line ends up shaking out.
Ultimately, not every name signed in free agency draws the “Wow” response, nor is it intended to. That famous board Keim built for free agency had more than star(ter) power in mind.
Tags: free agency, Steve Keim, Rashard Mendenhall, Lorenzo Alexander, Drew Stanton, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Yeremiah Bell, Jasper Brinkley, Matt Shaughnessy, Frostee Rucker, Jonathon Amaya, Chilo Rachal
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Right before Carson Palmer arrived in a recent trade, there were a few stories speculating that Palmer might not want to come to the Cardinals — the team that was the main one linked to Palmer as a destination — because he might want to be a backup for a contender and try and get to a sure winner after all his years in Cincinnati and Oakland. Palmer wasn’t talking before the trade, and after the trade, he proclaimed how much he was excited to be in Arizona.
General Manager Steve Keim got a sense of that immediately, even before the trade was consummated.
Keim relayed this anecdote on the Big Red Rage Thursday night, after he noted that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie had given the Cards permission to talk to Palmer prior to a trade. The Cardinals flew Palmer in and took him out to dinner, with the next day about taking a physical and some conversation at the team facility.
“Carson calls me at 6:15 in the morning, begging me to pick him up so he can watch tape,” Keim said. “For a 33-year-old quarterback, 10 years in the league, I love that passion.”
A few hours later, Palmer was a Cardinal in a move that — in hindsight — felt inevitable.
Keim watched the last three years of Palmer’s passes in scouting him before the trade. The Raiders were ready to dump Palmer for a song, yet Keim found himself midway through the process, “about 70 throws into it from (the) 2012 (season) and I was shaking my head trying to figure out, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ “
Obviously the Cardinals don’t see any issues.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Carson Palmer, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »
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: draft, John Skelton, quarterbacks, Steve Keim, Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb, Bruce Arians, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton
Posted in Blog | 56 Comments »
A few odds and ends on a Monday morning during the second week of voluntary workouts:
– The Cardinals signed punter Will Batson Monday. Batson also can kick field goals and kick off, so he’ll fill the role of Ricky Schmitt for this offseason and preseason, I’d think — which means he’s a major long shot. Ultimately, Dave Zastudil (who was very good last year) will be the punter and Jay Feely the kicker. This just gives the Cards an extra helper with a 90-man roster. Batson was with the Titans in preseason last year.
– There will be a special edition of the Big Red Rage this Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the regular spot, Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. Exact details are still being firmed up, but it will be live on Arizona Sports 620 and one of the guests will be General Manager Steve Keim.
– The 2013 Cardinals Cheerleaders will be announced on the site Friday. We will have a series of videos posted this week (1 p.m. so don’t miss them) detailing the audition process.
– I find it interesting that Kevin Kolb signs with the Bills after it could be argued that, had he not gotten hurt against the Bills last season, he might still be a Cardinal. (Then again, following that logic, there might not have been a coaching change at all. But I digress.) He’s got big plans for Buffalo.
– Presented without comment: Former Cardinals QB Max Hall has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Tags: Big Red Rage, cheerleaders, Kevin Kolb, Max Hall, Senio Kelemete, Steve Keim, Will Batson
Posted in Blog | 35 Comments »
There is really no way to know how long the Cardinals have been thinking about Carson Palmer, but it’s clear it’s been a little while even if the official trade talks with the Raiders didn’t start until last Friday. The Cards were in a good spot, since it seemed obvious Palmer wasn’t going to go back to Oakland. The price wasn’t steep, not even if it had been straight up for a sixth-round pick, and the Cards got a seventh-rounder back. (The conditional pick next year is reportedly another seventh rounder, and since the conventional wisdom that a pick a year later is worth less than the current year, does that mean the Cards might have given up an undrafted free agent?)
The price for Palmer — about $8 million in salary, according to reports — is fair for a veteran QB with a decent resume. More importantly, the Cardinals were good with it.
“Not only with the draft compensation but with the restructuring of the contract, we had an area we felt comfortable with as an organization,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “We stuck to it and we were patient and it worked out.”
Keim said he and Team President Michael Bidwill had a long talk about the direction of the organization when Palmer’s availability came to light. Keim stressed the opportunity to get a franchise quarterback at this stage (which sounds even better given the prospects in the draft, which are clearly not exciting too many QB-needy teams league-wide given all the QB moves.) The Cards had gone for a franchise QB trade recently, and that didn’t work out all that well.
“I think there were many lessons we learned from that trade and from other trades that we brought collectively to the table,” Bidwill said of the Kolb deal.
The changes have come fast and furious over the past month or so. “All along we talked about being proactive and being aggressive,” Keim said. The Cardinals have. And now they have a new quarterback to run out there.
– It does feel like this is a perfect fit for what Bruce Arians does. I do think Palmer can still play well, and I do think he was the best option for the Cards. Is he the long-term solution? Of course not. Even if he has a Kurt Warner-like renaissance, the Cardinals are going to keep looking for long-term answers. They already were caught short once when Warner retired and they don’t want it to happen again.
– There was also cautious optimism from players today. “Any time you add a weapon, it helps your team,” running back Rashard Mendenhall said. “But we are all waiting to see how it shakes out.” As Fitz said, “I’m coming off the most disappointing season of my career and I’m in ‘Prove it’ mode.” Everyone on the Cards, especially on offense, probably needs to view it that way.
– It can’t hurt on the timing, which got Palmer to Arizona right when voluntary work started. He lost out on most of Tuesday as the deal was completed, but emphasized he is now in Arizona ready to work. I assume that means starting full bore Wednesday. (He did get a post-contract mini-workout in with John Lott, and talked a little with new teammate Dan Williams as you can see below.)
– Speaking of Warner, Palmer knows the parallel of coming to the Cards at this late stage of his career (Palmer is 33, Warner was 34 when the Cards got him.) “It’s hard to make those comparisons. Kurt was a phenomenal player. He came here and just lit people up. I’d love to be compared to some of the things that he did here when it’s my time to leave here.”
– In his opening statement, Palmer addressed the many stories about his leaving the Raiders, including the one out there that he declined to renegotiate his contract down from $13 million in 2013 even though the Raiders were reportedly still offering $10 million this season.
“There’s been a lot of rumors and stories and inaccuracies about my departure from Oakland,” Palmer said. “I want to clear the air on that. I was presented with a contract there and I was advised not to sign that contract, with no security, no guarantees. My agent told me he would never have me sign that contract. That opportunity led me here.”
Palmer said the Raiders were moving toward youth and he had no problem with that. He also called Head Coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie “stars” at their jobs.
– Arians was increasingly optimistic about his team. It lead to the funniest exchange of the day as Arians praised the players he saw for the first time Tuesday morning.
“Having walked into that room today, that’s as good a looking football team as I’ve seen in my 20 years of coaching, stepping in the first day,” Arians said. “There’s not a bad body in the room. It’s a great looking bunch of athletes, and we will never use talent as an excuse.”
Palmer didn’t hesitate. “You saying you’ve got a good body?”
“Yeah buddy. Yes indeed,” Arians fired back. “Sixty and sexy.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Raiders, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Keim, trade
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 48 Comments »