The Hyphen as a sore thumb

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2012 – 3:27 pm

General manager Rod Graves was recalling in his mind was the “most tense” discussion the current brass had had in the draft room — the debate about whether to take running back LaRod Stephens-Howling in the seventh round of the 2009 draft.

In hindsight, the debate seems crazy. Not only has Stephens-Howling — The Hyphen to those who know and cover him in the media — been worth a late pick, he’s been incredibly valuable as a special teams player and in certain packages on offense. But he is only 5-foot-6, and Graves was less than convinced. “I’m glad (director of player personnel) Steve Keim and coach (Ken) Whisenhunt stepped up to say, ‘Rod, this guy can really help our football team,’ ” Graves said. “Jokingly, I say that, but we do have good discussions, healthy discussions.”

Keim was talking about Stephens-Howling while talking about the Cards’ draft cards (story on the homepage by the end of the day). By the time the sixth and seventh round come up, the draft grades have shrunk. But Stephens-Howling was noticeable that day.

“He was sticking out like a sore thumb because he had a grade of 70, which is a huge grade for a 5-foot-6 running back who didn’t even start at Pitt,” Keim said. “That’s basically a third-round grade on our scale, a grade of a guy who would either be an eventual starter or a significant role player. That’s what that stands for.

“To get a guy in the seventh round that have a grade like that, those are the ones you really get excited about, as opposed to the Patrick Petersons who, your two boys and my six-year old could tell you he could play.”

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18 Responses to “The Hyphen as a sore thumb”

  1. By andrew on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Little Rod is such a beast. when i first saw him i looked up to him. litterly, and figurtively. i am also short. and football is part of my life. i have always been picked on for my size, but i mean alot to my football team. i hate it when im judged for my size. well dont judge a book by its cover, cause LaRod is a beast!

  2. By Brandon on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Hi drarren.
    I saw yesterday about Larry wanting the cardinals to draft floyd. Do you think the cardinals would think about it because larry wants him?
    Thank you.

  3. By Darren Urban on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Brandon —

    RE: Fitz/Floyd

  4. By jonnyb on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Is the hyphen still going to be the kick returner cause last year i think one of the dbs started to do it towards the end of the season

  5. By Darren Urban on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    jonnyb —

    RE: Hyphen on KOR

    I would assume so. LSH was banged up at the end of the season, one of the reasons he did it less.

  6. By Fatdog on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Darren any chance the Cards trade for Jabar Gaffney from Wash.?

  7. By Darren Urban on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Fatdog —

    RE: Gaffney


  8. By in fitz we trust on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    i can see the hyphen becoming a darren sproles type player with his agility and speed. too bad the backfield is semi crowded here in az. by the way darren, has lsh signed his tender yet??? if another team offered him a higher contract and he took it, a second round pick would be worth it. considering he was a 7th round pick, that would be a steal if u think about it from the business side of football.

  9. By Darren Urban on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    In Fitz —

    RE: Hyphen tender

    Yes, he signed last week.

  10. By Ricky on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Could the cardinals be looking at Chad Clifton if he is healthy?

  11. By Darren Urban on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    Ricky —

    RE: Clifton

    If he is healthy, it wouldn’t be until after the draft.

  12. By AB on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    LaRod is my favorite player. He proves that men like my size can play in this league. I believe he can convert to a Wes Welker type of receiver.

  13. By Ryan McCabe on Apr 24, 2012 | Reply

    The Hyphen has been a truly inspiring figure in Cardinals lore, like our own personal “Rudy.” I’m hoping the Cards are able to re-sign him after he becomes a free agent after the season (?). A great story of triumph for all the vertically challenged players out there and a great example of a gutsy sports hero for little kids to look up to. I wouldn’t want to get laid out by some guy twice my size, but the Hypen handles it all in stride.

  14. By Eazy E on Apr 25, 2012 | Reply

    Wow, amazing draft story!

  15. By clssylssy on Apr 25, 2012 | Reply

    I too, have caught myself comparing the Hyphen to Sproiles and wondering “how’d we manage to slip that one in?”. I’m sure glad we were able to keep him and had some very anxious moments in the off season as many of our players became FAs. We need some BIG linemen for protection…then we are good to go!
    Having an off season, OTAs and the use of the facilities will make a huge difference this year. We have a wealth of talent that was not able to be developed last year because of the lockout and I believe in our coaches. Good luck in the draft you are the Yoydas of the organization, this isn’t your first rodeo and the fans are ready for some hardhitting, smashmouth football! GO CARDS, WE DO THIS TOGETHER!

  16. By shane on Apr 25, 2012 | Reply


    Any chance of the cardinals looking to fill the #2 reciever with a veteran like burress or edwards. that is if we dont draft floyd? Also, do the Cardinals have any interest in moving down the draft to get WR stephen hill (from GT) and a 2nd round pick for a Tackle?

  17. By Darren Urban on Apr 25, 2012 | Reply

    Shane —

    RE: Veterans

    I think they revisit the free agent market after the draft. I would doubt guys with baggage like Burress or Edwards, however. Moving down takes someone wanting to move up.

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