Pro days and the case for No. 1 Cam

Posted by Darren Urban on March 8, 2011 – 9:54 am

The Cardinals have a handful of decision-makers — including head coach Ken Whisenhunt — attending Auburn’s pro day today, as colleges begin to host their home-cooking workouts. Obviously Auburn has a pair of potential top five picks in QB Cam Newton and DT Nick Fairley. Arkansas also has it’s pro day today; is it notable Whisenhunt chose to go where Newton is and not Ryan Mallett? Maybe. Maybe he already has seen what he wants to see from Mallett. Maybe the Cards will schedule Mallett for a one-on-one workout. The point is I don’t think you can make assumptions based on today’s choice.

At this point, the general feeling is that Newton and Misouri’s Blaine Gabbert (who, after not throwing at the combine, has his pro day March 17) are the top two QBs available. So to me, choosing to watch Newton over Mallett is logical. Doesn’t mean the Cards will take a quarterback.

Which leads me to this point: So many people are wondering if the Cards will take a QB first. What if Newton and Gabbert are both off the board in the top four picks? It may be a moot point for the Cards in the end.

My friend Darin Gantt, who covers the Panthers, told he thinks (at least on March 8th) that Newton will be the Panthers’ pick after losing out on Andrew Luck. That’d be a surprise. But I also remember about this time last year when everyone was just starting to talk about Sam Bradford going to the Rams No. 1 after he was hurt almost his entire final season in college. Everyone at first didn’t think Bradford would be the pick. Then he was, and it turned out pretty well for St. Louis.

That same top-three mock has Denver taking Von Miller at No. 2 and Alabama DT Marcell Dareus going to Buffalo at No. 3. That’d leave Cincinnati before Arizona. But all four teams in front of the Cardinals could conceivably be looking for a quarterback of the future. Would it really be a stunner to see both Newton and Gabbert off the board that early? I don’t think so.

We will see. In the meantime, the Cards will continue checking out the pro days (general manager Rod Graves is scheduled to attend the pro days of TCU, LSU and Texas A&M over the next six days) and doing due diligence. There can only be four players taken before the Cards go. Someone high-profile is going to be sitting there at 5. Who that is, however, remains vague.

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45 Responses to “Pro days and the case for No. 1 Cam”

  1. By Nick Pepe on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Darren- talk on the radio is that the Eagles expect a high first round pick for Kolb. That seems a little steep for a player unproven wouldn’t you agree? And what do you think the chances are that the Cards would part with the 5th pick for a player that really has not done much (good or bad)?
    Nick Pepe

  2. By Darren Urban on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Nick —

    RE: Kolb

    I would be surprised if the Cards gave up the No. 5 pick for Kolb.

  3. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if both Newton and Gabbert are off the board before we pick. Carolina, Buffalo, and Cincinnati (if Brown realizes Palmer is gone) all need a QB. Good point about Bradford, I remember it was right around this time last year that Bucky Brooks had him going to us at #26.

    Not that Newton doesn’t have a few of his own but the red flags on Mallett right now are like sirens. If we go the route of QB with our second round pick I think Kaepernick would have to be the choice over Mallett there if either slips that far, which seems realistic.

  4. By Gary shaw on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    If we are lucky Von Miller will be there at 5 if not hopefully Patrick Peterson> there is no qb in my op ion that we should raft in the first round! please please please!pick solid help that can come in and help this year not maybe 2 years down the road! Get a decent QB in free agency that can carry us until skeleton or another draft ed QB say from the second round like Mallet who has a super arm and accuracy. We can groom but don’t waste another first round choice this high! get the best OLB or CB that only comes around for us every 2 to 3 years

  5. By JOHN on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply


    Do you know any other College Pro Days that Coach Whisnehunt will attend?

  6. By Darren Urban on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    John —

    RE: Whiz at pro days

    Right now, I have not heard.

  7. By AndyStandsUp on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    With the depth of DE/DT in this year’s draft, Whiz could be just as well scouting “Fairly”, instead of Newton.
    The Broncos already have Orton, Tebow and Quinn and even w/trade hard to see them picking a QB.
    It may come down to Patrick Peterson or a down lineman for the Cards at 5. In that situation, which would be the wiser selection?

  8. By AndyStandsUp on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mike,
    Unless Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, etc. is the guy they want at 5, I don’t see the Cards picking a QB with an early/mid selection. They have too many other needs to “waste” on a guy to compete with the Skelton/Hall/Bartel Hydra.

  9. By K-DUB on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Exactly, someone will be there at number 5…I just hope it’s Miller.

  10. By cards62 on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Mike I hope Newton and Gabbert are both off the board before we select as it will just give us more great players to choose from. I do business with a company in St. Louis and one of the guys is a huge huge Missouri TIger Fan and he says no way should we take Gabbert. There is a reason he did not throw at the combine as he has something to hide and a lot of money to gain. Kevin Kolb is an unknown but so are all of the rookie QBs. I of course can be wrong but I hope we sign two veterans QBs and maybe take a chance in the 6th round or free agency on the kid from Alabama or one of the several Big Ten QBs. 2011 is going to be a strange year and our MVP I hope is our front office and coaching staff. There could be tons of free agents, ours and others so I sure hope Rod Graves and the gang are putting together a great strategy for us as we really need to be able to strike quickly and pick up the free agents we need.. I have said in earlier posts that I think that 2011 is a huge year for Coach Whiz, and also for Rod Graves. Make or break year for these 2 guys. Great run to the Superrbowl but very very strange moves in 2010 and a truly dismal season even worse than our record.

    I know we are all hoping they both do incredible well this off season and season and like a lot of you I am nervous as to what they will do and how 2011 will shape up.
    Go Cards return to winning in 2011

  11. By Matt in Philly on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    In my opinion, Mallett will be the best of the bunch in the long run. He’s got a fiery, competitive attitude, a great arm, he played in a pro-style offense in college, and has great size. And this whole pot-smoking thing is a straw man argument. Plenty of great players smoke pot (i.e. Michael Vick, Ricky Williams), and I’m sure there are plenty of great players whose pot-smoking habits we don’t even know about. Gabbertt and Newton are just flashes in the pan.

  12. By John the draft guy on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    A few thoughts

    One other major thing to consider is trades. Does Miami , Minnesota, Washington, Seattle, San Fran, or even the Raiders jump up if they felt they needed to to get their guy. I could see a Denver trade with Washington so they could grab Gabbert. Denver could land that DE to go with Dumervil or grab Prince for CB.

    I’m very happy about Vick’s turn around. I hope he stays on the right path, but one mistake ends Phillys season if they trade Kolb. If I’m running the Eagles, It would take a whole lot for me to trade away Kolb. Plus, Vicks style lead to injuries. He did get hurt last year. I just don’t see a Card trade for Kolb.

    Finally, Michael Lombarni on NFL network (who actually drafted players for teams) sees Ponder being talked about more and more. He sees him as a guy at the top of round 2. When asked who he would take, Ponder or Locker, he chose Ponder. Finally, I got someone on my side with Ponder. Smart, Athletic, and Accurate, this is the guy I would target.

  13. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply


    He didn’t throw at the combine because his agent told him not to. Eight of the last 12 first round QB’s didn’t either. He’s not hiding anything.

    I’ll ask again since I haven’t heard a response to this question yet. What makes you think signing a vet will yield any quicker results than drafting Gabbert? Whoever comes in will be starting from scratch in our offense and historically speaking, with very few exceptions, free agent QB’s take a few years to acclimate as well, if at all. Throw in a possible lockout and the learning curve tightens even more.

    Gabbert’s skill set is easily on par with Bradford’s, and while we don’t have a RB the caliber of Steven Jackson the disparity between their WR’s and ours is even greater. Don’t know what your friend doesn’t like about him but whatever it is the scouts have missed it.


    Don’t think I’d call Kaepernick a waste, and I don’t see Bartel or Hall with us next season. If the draft plays out to where we get Bowers/Miller in round one and Kaepernick (or Ponder, still don’t know a whole lot about him) in round two that’s potentially two huge areas of need addressed early on.

  14. By Rich on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Good comments by everybody. Gotta say, I’m a Skelton fan. I think if he starts this year, he’d be just as good as any rookie coming out now. Don’t laugh, but DA is better off the bench than as a starter. Bartel as #3. Hall is gone. If Skelton doesn’t work out as a starter, following year he’s #2, Bartel #3, DA is gone, they trade or sign a veteran QB. If Skelton works out – he’s your guy long term. Really hoping for Von at #5. He’s a game changer – a playmaker.

  15. By AndyStandsUp on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mike,
    No offense, but I still see ILB and OL as more important needs than a QB in the mid rounds.
    Once Whiz falls in love with a player (Moxie Hall) I think it’s hard for him to cut the heart strings. For some people love is stronger than death.

  16. By Pat on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, you gave us Graves travel schedule for more pro days. Could you make sure he takes someone with who can evaluate talent. Thanks.

  17. By Rick on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply


    There is so much talk about Cards taking defensive player (i.e. Von Miller). What do you think the chances are of them taking a WR such as AJ Green or Julio Jones, which is a good possibility either will be there at number 5? I don’t think Cards will take a QB with the number 5 pick and will acquire a QB via free agency or trade. I think Fitz benefited from having another playmaker on the other side of the field and having big play-making WRs might be attractive for veteran QBs to come here.

  18. By Darren Urban on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Rick —

    RE: Taking a WR

    I don’t see any way they take a receiver at No. 5.

  19. By D on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    If both V. Miller and Peterson are off the board by 5, don’t go for a QB that may or may not contribute in a few years, try to move down to the 10-12 spot, pick up extra pick and still get a impact player (if possible)

  20. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply


    No offense taken, I respect your thoughts on the matter. I do have to differ with the definition of a mid-round pick, as I’m lobbying for Kaepernick in round 2 if we bypass and/or someone else picks Gabbert in round 1.

    Based on his comments after the season I think the Whiz’s days of overlooking mistakes are over. Not saying that’s necessarily a deathblow to Hall but I do believe the only QB on last year’s roster who is safe is Skelton. If we combine a free agent with a draft pick at that position that obviously takes up the remaining spots.

  21. By AndyStandsUp on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mike,
    We’re being too civil here, need to throw in some expletives to boost Darren’s hits.
    I still think Max is going to get a “hall” pass. If you’re one of Whiz’s guys, you can do no wrong. (e.g. not getting rid of Porter after the Taco Bell incident) If you’re on the wrong side of the dictatorship (e.g. Leinart) you could find yourself released.
    Whiz stated last season he didn’t want to place Skelton or Hall on the practice squad and I find it hard to believe the leopard will change his spots.
    Who knows, maybe “Misouri” Gabbert will be selected at 5 and end the debate.

  22. By Nick Pepe on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Darren – I will rest easy knowing you think Kolb is overpriced with regard to the # 5 pick. I do not think he is battle tested enough and there were games when he had pressure on him that he was just brutal.

    And with all the speculation that everyone is throwing out there about what direction they will go with the pick, someone is bound to be right. But I think any speculation prior to the CBA resolution is just that, speculation. Who knows what the roster will look like come draft day.

    Nick Pepe

  23. By Darren Urban on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Nick —

    RE: “Resting easy”

    You do know I have absolutely no say in any moves the team makes, right?

  24. By Denver on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, do you know exactly what day the pro day will occur at TCU? And do you know if the general public can attend those workouts?

  25. By Darren Urban on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Denver —

    RE: TCU workout

    Scheduled for March 11. And usually pro days are closed to the public.

  26. By Scott H on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    I think if all of the top QB’s are gone by the time we come up to bat at #5, they HAVE to think in terms of getting Kolb. OR, they have to give Skelton a shot. Anything else, we might as well watch a DVD of last season.

  27. By Mark in Chandler on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Just don’t panic. Feeling pressured to get that one guy-to make a splash with the fans- tends to cause teams to make mistakes. I would rather have Bulger/Skelton than feel pressured to reach.

    I think 2nd rd for Orton/Kolb (and that is probably high for either one but QBs are always over valued because of thier impact). If no trade then 2nd round would be where I looked to draft a QB if one is better than Skelton, but if the pick is not clearly a better prospect than Skelton then don’t draft a QB. After the 2nd rd it makes no sense to me to waste a pick on another QB project.

    At #5 I go Miller or Quinn. I have always been high on Quinn so getting him instead of Miller would not be bad. Miller is incredible but Quinn is also talented and appears more stout against the run than Miller, although Miller still holds his own. If Peterson is there he would be tempting but I think I would rather go OLB.

    I would also consider moving down if a someone like Vikings or Redskins would give up a 2nd to move up. At 10-12 the Cardinals could still get Aldon Smith and potenially even Robert Quinn. If the Cards don’t go QB in 2nd round I would look to trade down with that pick as well. It would be a valuable pick. This is a very deep draft at many positions the Cardinals would be looking at so more mid round picks would be great.

  28. By brad oneill on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    cam newton has a lot of the same problems da has- he tends to not see open receivers and will force things.

    Mallet would be a great pick if he is still around in the second.

    The real question is should we take peterson or von miller at no. 5. I think peterson might be the safer choice but von miller fills an immediate need. i don’t thnk peterson will still be there but if he is i think you have to go with the best player available, he is a special return man in addition to having the skills to force teams to test drc. i wont cry if we take von miller because i think pressure on the opposing qb will make our team better but i saw a lot i liked with obrien schofield. Obrien was a little light for the position but at age 23 he actually should be able to add considerable power and a little bit of weight still. John Lott should help him make an adrian wilson type transition to the nfl game.

  29. By Chris B on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    I think the Qb conversation needs to be put into perspective:
    Sure, Gabbert may rate high this year, but it’s THIS year’s draft stock. At the beginning, no one was high on any QB and Cam just had the “hollywood” factor to boast his publicity.

    They go pass rusher round 1. They found Washington last year and I think he makes strides in year 2 (assuming CBA is fine). Lenon, though not a durable as Dasby, had better stats than Dansby did last year. O’Brian will become a pass rusher. He was projected a high pick until he got hurt. I believe they found gold in the 4th round. The Steelers won on defense in ’06. Whiz will do it the Steeler way.
    We don’t really know what Hall can do. Was he ready to start? No. So what? He wasn’t a wonder baby, doesn’t mean he can’t become better when given a shot. Skelton is in the same boat; not amazing but so what? Barrtel will probably be given a shot to compete and DA is gone because he costs too much.

    If FA is shot because of the CBA and they don’t draft a QB but pick up a play maker at LB I think we’ll do OK with Skelton or Hall as a 2nd year QB. Not everyone drafts Rookie of the Year QB’s. Doesn’t mean they don’t become leaders and play makers.
    Would I like Aaron Rodgers in a Cards uniform? Sure. Doesn’t mean we don’t have a diamond in the rough at QB already on the roster.

  30. By former AZ.resident on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    If miller & peterson is on the board at the 5th pick I that the cards should pick peterson. Because there is still quality pass rushers in the 2nd round than there is cb. Washington was a 2nd rounder & O’brien later what I’m trying to say is the cards so far has pick good rushers in later rounds so peterson would be a good pick at 5 over miller. Or they could trade down and get prince and get an extra pick?

  31. By AZIrish 16 on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    DEFENSE, Defense, Defense. That should be the first 3 rounds for the Cards. Load up that D, and ATTACK!! Von Miller/Patrick Peterson first, Aaron Williams/Marvin Austin second, and get Casey Matthews with the 3rd. But the Cards still need to pick up a quality qb in free agency. Someone that might have 2-3 yrs left to groom Skelton right.

  32. By Frustrated on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Don’t you think the longer it takes to get the CBA done, the better then chance that DA has of sticking with the team because of the learning curve involved with a new QB?

  33. By Darren Urban on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Frustrated —

    RE: DA/CBA

    I think the only way Anderson ends up staying is if the work stoppage virtually eliminates free agency or player trades and the Cards can’t get another veteran.

  34. By DREW on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply


    I think we will see Miller sitting there at #5, and KW will get a call from the Pat’s for a trade of both there #1’s and something/someone else.

    Thanks just my two cents….what you think?

  35. By Darren Urban on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Drew —

    RE: Trading for No. 5

    I think people are wishing and hoping when they dream about the Patriots giving up two later No. 1s for that No. 5 pick.

  36. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply


    Why would he have gotten rid of Porter for the “Taco Bell” incident? From what I read all he did was go out for dinner and got pulled over by an overzealous cop (using a nice adjective to describe him, as others come to mind) for doing nothing other than driving home.

    I’ll throw out the same question about Leinart that I have to others, again without much response. If he didn’t like him why did he keep him around for four training camps, give him the inside track on the starting job twice, and kept him over a summer when a guy like McNabb was readily available? Could it just be that Leinart, in spite of even the coaching staff’s best efforts to make him one, isn’t a starter and wasn’t interested in staying on as a back-up any longer? I don’t see a dictatorship or favortism there, if anything I see too much loyalty that kept hoping to see or develop something not there.

    I will agree that I’ll be very happy to end the debate with Gabbert getting the call at #5 from us.

  37. By Nick Pepe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Did you really just bring up McNabb again? Overrated and washed up is not a good combination!

  38. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply


    I’ve heard reports that the Bidwills will be attending Gabbert’s pro day. Any truth to it?

  39. By Darren Urban on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Mike —

    RE: Bidwills at Gabbert pro day

    I have not heard that.

  40. By Josh the CardsFan on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Cam Newton Had a great Pro Day so he will probably be off the board by #5. Gabbert is yet to be seen because his pro day hasn’t come around yet. I would be comfortable with us taking the sure thing in Von Miller and drafting either Ponder or Locker in the second round if they are still there. Mallet made too many bad decisions in games for him to be anything more than a backup. He folds under pressure. Everyone forgets that Locker and Ponder may have been first round selections last year. Locker was on a bad team but I think he has great tools and would just have to be battle tested and see how he handles pressure moments. Same with ponder. Do you agree Darren?

  41. By Darren Urban on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    Josh the Cards Fan —

    RE: Evaluating QBs

    I wish I knew for sure. In the end, no one does for sure. You make fair arguments, but I am sure there are those out there who could argue otherwise just as eloquently.

  42. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply


    Only brought up to prove a point, not to lobby for him.

  43. By Nick Pepe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mike – not sure what your point was “when a guy like McNabb was available”……I am available too, but I can’t play QB in the NFL. It’s all good. I think we all want the same thing here. A winning team and promising future. But McNabb isn’t, and Leinart wasn’t, the answer. Not sure what is….that’s why I work in the field that I do and am not a GM in the NFL.

  44. By Mike Ellingboe on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply


    There is still the complaint that Whiz was playing favorites, and that Leinart got cut because he wasn’t one. Just a debate between myself and Andy, my point being that if he didn’t like/want Leinart there were other QB’s available he could have gone after. I completely agree with you that neither is a legit answer.

  45. By AndyStandsUp on Mar 9, 2011 | Reply

    @ Mike,
    Good points all around thanks for not delving into crass innuendo or misstatements like I tend to do.
    Porter, with his past history, should have definitely been dropped like a hot rock after the Taco Bell incident; everyone knows he has an acid reflux problem after eating horse meat.
    And Leinart should have not been released, leaving only 2 rookie QBs. His father’s cousin is the adopted nephew of the sister of the guy who helped design the “Terrible Towel”. And we know how deep Whiz’s loyalty lies.

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