It only takes one

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2011 – 11:02 am

Yesterday, I had a Twitter follower by the name of Mykael C. Wright ask me to explain the confusing aspect of all this drafting-a-quarterback talk.

“Is game film (20%), pro day (30%), & potential (50%) to put #’s on draft grade? I don’t get qb movement NOW.” he wrote.

What everyone should understand about player “movement” in draft speculation is that there really isn’t any “movement.” The lists people refer to are not a team list; as I have mentioned a few times the Cardinals have not even started to put together their draft board (The draft room is on the third floor just a short walk from my desk and is a shortcut to the bathroom; trust me, once that path gets shut down to protect the secrets of the process, I am well aware). The lists are educated speculation from pundits like Mel Kiper or Todd McShay or one of hundreds of mock drafts that come out seemingly more often than ever these days.

Realistically, however, you can’t have movement until you talk to a player. The “lists” before the Scouting combine are based on what has been done on the field but also what scouts have let leak during the college season. In the end, though, scouts only have so much of a say, and in the case of the top quarterbacks, no one really has had a chance to interview them until Indianapolis. Those interviews are crucial to the process, since coaches want to see those guys stand in front of a white board and diagram a play or two and explain how to attack a certain defense (I was fortunate enough to sit in for one quarterback’s interview when I was in Indy; fascinating stuff).

So that’s really the first time teams and coaches can fully understand a QB, and opinions morph. And, as those opinions leak, QBs “move” on the lists. More “movement” might happen again after a pro day or private workouts as these teams further scrutinize a player. The background checks are in full swing, and again, that could reveal something to affect opinion. Don’t underestimate reverse physiology either. Are, for example, Andy Dalton (below) or Christian Ponder that good? Or have Gabbert/Newton/Mallett/Locker taken so many broadsides of criticism that to be not one of those guys alone make you more attractive?

Going back to Mykael’s original question though, I’d think game film is still 50 percent of the thought process. Pro day? Maybe 2 percent from on the field (assuming he was at the combine already). The pro day is more important as to talking to the people (trainers, equipment guys, coaches) that had been around the kid. Potential is a huge part of it too, especially for underclassmen like Newton or Gabbert who don’t have a long résumé. So to is fit to what you want to do, and of course, the personal interviews.

“Movement” is a mirage, in many ways. And remember, it only takes one team to love you. If, for instance, the Panthers take Cam Newton first overall, does it matter if the rest of the NFL wouldn’t risk a first-round pick on him?


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Posted in Blog | 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “It only takes one”

  1. By blaxabbath on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Great piece, Darren. With the media (and message boards) constantly hyping everything from issues with the league (lockout), issues with the picks (especially the QB class), and issues with the team (AZ was a 5-11 team that could have easily been 3-13 and has no solid QB foundation) — not to mention the usual speculation that comes with having a high draft pick — I think it’s easy to lose the forest in the trees with things like the draft.

    Don’t get me wrong, the process and the pick deserve proper respect, but that also includes not bailing on a guy because he made a bad decision at 20 years old or, similarly, buy in on a guy because he shredded subpar defenses (Anyone seen the highlight videos of Skelton in college? Looks like he is playing high schoolers because he basically is).

    Darren — could you do a piece on what draft picks generally go through in the summer after the draft, how much it kick starts their NFL/team development, and compare that to what it may mean if a new CBA isn’t in place until ,say, training camp time?

  2. By Darren Urban on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    blaxabbath —

    RE: Story idea

    I will look into that, yes.

  3. By Phoenixraven1 on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    D, what’s your opinion on what will happen in court April 6th in Judge Doty’s court?

  4. By Darren Urban on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Phoenixraven —

    RE: April 6 hearing

    No idea. If I had a sense, I assume I’d be a lawyer, and then I am quite sure my paycheck would be larger.

  5. By Chris Waldrop on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    So which QB did you get to see diagram a play?

  6. By Darren Urban on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Chris Waldrop —

    RE: Diagramming

    Plan to write about it after the draft.

  7. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Just seen Robert Quinn’s UNC pro day workout on and Whiz was there with probably every other head coach in the NFL. Yep, it only takes one team to like a guy, and for Robert Quinn, it will be Coach Whiz and Arizona at pick #5. Quinn would do just fine as a rush linebacker in a 3-4. I like how Mike Mayock compares him to Demarus Ware of Dallas. Quinn just has more raw talent and versatility than the more one-dimensional and undersized Von Miller.

  8. By Super on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Hey D,
    Love the fact you’re able to keep us entertained in the “bummer” period.
    I’d be head-over-heels for more information on the QB interview you got to sit in on. Not really the player himself, but on what the coaches looked for, the process itself, what was said vs what was meant. What kinds of questions the QB’s asked.

    I guess I’m more interested in the process than the prospect.

    Thanks, keep up the splendid work!

  9. By Darren Urban on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Super —

    RE: QB interview

    Something maybe better? We took video too. I hope we can put up some of it at some point — again, after the draft.

  10. By D on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    What would happen if there becomes a bidding war between AZ and SF for Bulger?

  11. By Darren Urban on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Bulger “bidding war”

    Bulger will make a lot more money than he normally would have.

    At least Arizona is closer to St. Louis (where Bulger reportedly wants to be close to).

  12. By Phoenixraven1 on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply


  13. By D on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Let’s talk 2nd round options for the Cards. (if they keep the pick)

    My top 2- Stephen Wisniewski G/C or Quan Sturdivant ILB

  14. By AndyStandsUp on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Off topic, but I had comment on the beautiful story about Pat Tillman that you posted today. I came into work that day at 7 am for “Doughnut Friday” and my friend told me the news. I didn’t believe him and had to run back to my vehicle and listen to the radio for the news. I know it sounds sappy, but I felt I had lost a close family member.
    Would you please provide the link for Card fans who only read your posts, but not your blogs?

  15. By Darren Urban on Apr 2, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Tillman story

    Some people don’t read my stories, just the blog? Very disappointing.

  16. By Kent on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    @ Ottis Anderson Fan

    You make Von Miller being one dimensional a knock and talk up Robert Quinn, when in reality Quinn is probably more one dimensional than Miller.

    Quinn has never shown the fluidity to drop into coverage. Mayock mentioned that neither Ware nor Quinn has shown they could do it on tape (Miller has after a Sophomore year at WILL LB and two seasons as a “Joker”) but at least Ware showed the fluidity the Short Area Quickness and the Change of Direction ability to show he could transition into coverage. Quinn possesses none of those traits, and I don’t see anyway he transitions to coverage well in the NFL.

    As for Quinn at 5, you do know that under Whis the Cards have had 27 draft picks only 3 of which have been underclassmen? You do know that over the past four years three of the four Cards first rounders have been standouts at the Senior Bowl? You do know that over the past two seasons 9 of their 15 draft selections have been at the Senior Bowl and that 6 of our 8 picks in the first four rounds of the past two years were at the Senior Bowl.

    Drafting an underclassmen seems very unlikely at #5 for Arizona, they have rarely done it at all, and seem to show a huge love of the Senior Bowl as a place to evaluate talent on a level playing field against the best of the best. If Miller is there at 5 I would find it very hard for the team to pass on him, becasue he fills most if not all of the criteria that they seem to weigh heavily on draft boards. If he is selected prior to #5 I am not sure what route they take. But I would not at all rule out a “reach” selection for someone like Amakumara or a Cameron Jordan.

  17. By Kent on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    @ D

    Second Round. Look for them to trade up into the back end of the first to select a guy like Cam Heyward if he is slipping. The Pats at 28 might be the ideal trade partner for this situation.

  18. By DoblerFan on Apr 1, 2011 | Reply

    Nice piece Darren.

    Bulger probably will be needed and if he comes in late could still p-u our system fast. It would be hard to pay him over $10 mil for 2 years though. SF is just blowing smoke. Let them fight over Kolb with Seattle and award him an outrageous multi year contract.

    Hey D – As for your 2ND Round – I like the Ski pick but Sturdivant might be a little high although we could use him. I prefer OLB bruce carter, TE K. Rudolf(Yeah I spelled it wrong), QB Locker, DE Heyward, or maybe that 26 yr old guard from Canada (forgot his name altogether). There are a couple possible LT’s that will be there too.

  19. By Bill L on Apr 2, 2011 | Reply

    Draft board or not, I think I heard Whiz say…..There’s no Stafford or Bradford out there. IMO that is an understatement. Take Newton……Please…..on the field I’ve heard simplistic offense, missed seeing open recievers, not very accurate. Off the field it has escalated far past stealing a laptop. They could be describing a much worse Leaf. And from NFL network…….silence……Casserley says he’s off his board in the first round and the rest mumble something about……character issues, that need investigation. I’m with Charlie……OFF the board……whether there is one or not.

    Did hear another point of interest. Sea reported to have offered(b4 lockout) their 1st for Kolb and it was rejected as too low. Only 720 draft value points for pick 25. Maybe Hasselbeck is gone, and maybe 3 west coast teams will be looking to trade for Kolb once we get a CBA…….Az, SF, Sea……NEXT?!

  20. By Jeff Gollin on Apr 2, 2011 | Reply

    Can I chime in?

    I’m not all that sure you can place arbitrary numerical weights on “potential”, “game tape”, “interviews” etc. – especially for top prospects at crucial positions.

    It’s more like what you go through before you get married.

    Sure (the assumption being it’s a female) , first-impressions & instant-chemistry are important. And you’ll probably want to “ask people who know her “what’s she like?” And you’ll want to get to know her over a decent period of time.

    And that’s my point – It’s all about getting to know the young man you’re about to sign for a gazillion dollars – & by this I mean the complete package. it means checking out old roommates, old hometown coaches, relatives and buddies. And studying the game tape. And asking the tough questions. And trying to determine how much of each answer is truth and how much of it is con.

    It’s the entire deal. And with each prospect, what you really need to know may be vary from player to player.

  21. By John the draft guy on Apr 2, 2011 | Reply

    Are, for example, Andy Dalton (below) or Christian Ponder that good? Or have Gabbert/Newton/Mallett/Locker taken so many broadsides of criticism that to be not one of those guys alone make you more attractive?

    Interesting comment.
    I don’t know about Dalton, but remember, Ponder was a top 10 guy last year in many peoples opinion. An injury-filled questionable senior season is what pushed him down the draft boards. As he has shown what he can do (ala Senior Bowl )and he is healthy ( Combine and workouts), he is climbing back into the first round.)

  22. By Luke on Apr 2, 2011 | Reply


    What are your thoughts on Greg McIlroy as an option in the 3rd or 4th round? It might not be important to some but he had a good wonderlic and a fairly successful career at Alabama. I just think that he has as much to offer as someone like Locker, Dalton or Ponder

  23. By Darren Urban on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    Luke —

    RE: McElroy

    I worry about arm strength. And for now, if you are drafting a QB, I want to be drafting a guy that has a chance to be a long-term starter. Not sure he fits that category. I could be wrong.

  24. By pacardfan on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    just random thoughts and very unlikely, but if AJ Green were to drop to #5, do u think the cards. would draft him? I know Breaston and Douce are most likely 2nd and 3rd WR, but AJ and Fitz. together would be unstoppable and open the running game up in which the Cards. improved on. (Note: both Beanie and TH need more ball control). If they don’t go for Cam. or Blaine, and AJ is there, why not take him? I see him as one of the best in this yrs. draft overall. It seems like the Cards. will go for Bulger or Palmer if Palmer does end up avb. anyway. I feel those two are the best QB’s they could go for unless Henne is avb. as well. Then in the 2nd rd., take Casey Mathews. Just look at what Clay has done so far and Casey is going to be a beast too. and or, if I read somewhere correctly, Paul Poz. from the Bills is a FA. If he is, go for him. I’ve also heard Steve Smith (car) may be up for trae, although I find that really hard to believe, but if so, u think the Cards. may bite?

  25. By Darren Urban on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    pacardfan —

    RE: AJ Green

    As I have said a few times, I would be shocked if they go WR with the 5th pick. I just think there are defensive players they think can make an impact and receiver just isn’t as important, especially when you believe you will keep Fitz long-term.

  26. By Old Man Riva on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    Cool stuff Darren. You the man! After following draft day from the Stone Age of no tv and having to sit on pins and needles until the next days newspaper came out with some spotty coverage to the Oscar like extravaganza of 2011, I realized a long time ago that the Kipers and McShays of the world are just guessing most of the time. They may get the first 5-10 picks right (although not always to the correct team) and from there on out it’s just like some guy throwing darts for the first time. So we’ll kick back and wait for you to tell us when the shortcut to the bathroom is closed.

  27. By AndyStandsUp on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    Good call Old Man Riva about the draft before ESPN. I used to look at both the Phoenix Gazette AND the Arizona Republic to sort out the names under the “transaction” page to find out whom my favorite team had selected and where local players had gone.
    Another off topic question, Darren. Will you post pre-draft visits? I understand completely this is a delicate situation for you being a team employee, but PFT has a current list and it’s the agent’s putting the names out there, for the most part, but anything to add?

  28. By Darren Urban on Apr 3, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Pre-draft visits

    Unless I hear of one, no, I won’t be posting any list. It’s usually pretty closely guarded and believe it or not, it’s fairly easy this time of year to have someone in the building and me not know. I think it is safe to say, unless there is a private workout — like what the Cards had with Gabbert — I’d guess they will visit will most of the top names. And again, I am not sure who comes for a visit (or doesn’t) really has an impact in the end of who is picked and who is not.

  29. By cactus jeff on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Here is Espn’s top 8 pass rushers. I just dont see anyone built like Von Miller, they are all 260+ except for Mathews. Remember, the Packers front 3 is massive helping Mathews succeed. I think Miller will be down on their draft board.

    1. DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys
    2. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
    3. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts
    4. Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
    5. Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs
    6. James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
    7. John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons
    8. Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears

  30. By Eazy E on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    cactus jeff-

    Demarcus Ware is listed at 262 but more like 250- 255, Clay is 250, 255 and Harrison is 242. I don’t think weight will make a huge difference unless he is 220 or 230 and he is 246. Miller will be high on our board, anybody’s board, along with peterson and cam.

  31. By Skiptim on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Cactus Jeff –

    Those are all pass rushers, but there are some defensive ends on that list, and defensive ends are typically much larger than rushing OLBs in the 3-4. Julius Peppers, John Abraham, Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney are all defensive ends in a 4-3, so they shouldn’t be compared to Von Miller’s size. But there are plenty of smaller OLBs in the NFL that are successful. James Harrison is relatively light, like Eazy E said. You also have Elvis Dumerville, who is 5’11, 248. You also have Cameron Wake, who is 6’3, 250 lbs. There is also Shaun Phillips, who is also 6’3, 250 lbs.

  32. By D on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    My draft picks for AZ:
    1) V. Miller OLB
    2) M. Wilson ILB IL
    3) C. Boling G Georgia
    4) J. Brown CB Colorado

    I don’t see why AZ would draft a QB in rounds 3 or 4 when that QB would be behind Skelton for several years-instead of wasting a pick on a 3rd string QB- can bring back last year’s backup’s for that role

  33. By cactus jeff on Apr 4, 2011 | Reply

    Eazy E and Skiptim,
    We will see on draft day, but with a light front 3 and small ILBs, the pick will be Quinn.

  34. By Skiptim on Apr 5, 2011 | Reply

    I wouldn’t hate seeing Quinn, if the team feels he can make the transition to a 3-4 OLB. But honestly, I want Dockett, Campbell and Williams to do their job in the run game, and I don’t think we would have drafted Daryl Washington if the coaches didn’t feel like he could hold up in the run game.

  35. By Super on Apr 12, 2011 | Reply

    Just watched the “All In” combine feature.
    Fun stuff, helped inform.
    Really appreciate the work you guys do.

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