Taylor (and Ellington) enter running back fray

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2013 – 12:00 pm

The Cardinals added Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor in the fifth round Saturday. It wasn’t a surprise — the Cards figured to add a back. It is interesting who they picked though. Taylor, Stanford’s all-time leading rusher, has a reputation for being durable. The Cards’ top two backs, Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, cannot make that claim. Neither one has played  full season the past two years. Williams has only played four games in two years. Mendenhall has to prove he can be effective full time again.

None of this means Taylor is about to walk into the starting lineup. He is a fifth-round pick. Now, that tends to mean less at running back these days. Plenty of third-day picks turn into rookie running back starters. Taylor is a three-down back, a guy who is a willing and able pass blocker. Bruce Arians has made it clear that’s something he wants in the backfield. Taylor is a between-the-tackles runner who doesn’t have great speed, but one scouting report mentioned he is more football player than athlete. In this case, that’s what the Cards want.

“It’s a perfect situation for me,” Taylor said.

I mentioned to Williams yesterday the Cards were likely to take a back (especially after letting LaRod Stephens-Howling leave). He shrugged his shoulders. He knows that’s how the league works. If he performs — and again, he believes he is more focused and better off than his first two years — he’ll win his time. If not, the Cards have an alternative. And with Mendenhall on a one-year contract anyway, the running back group still doesn’t have a ton of long-term clarity yet.

UPDATE: And the Cardinals added Clemson running back Andre Ellington in the sixth. Ellington is smaller (5-9, 199) but he can pass block too and can return kicks. It will make for a very, very interesting time at running back going into training camp.


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46 Responses to “Taylor (and Ellington) enter running back fray”

  1. By LadyBird04 on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    With the way rb’s get injured in the NFL I can see a team with three rb’s. LaRod was never a full on rb but more situational and on special teams. Loved him and believe he wasn’t used to his full benefit, but I think three all-around backs makes sense. Is it feasable to have all 3?

  2. By Darren Urban on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    LadyBird —

    RE: three RBs

    Absolutely. I’d be shocked if all three don’t make the team. Taylor and Williams won’t be making much.

  3. By Eric G on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Man, the picks just keep coming. Loving this draft. Keim and Arians have my vote so far. A+ draft right now.

  4. By joe 67 on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    For whatever reason, I am starting to feel a little better now. Sorry I was so negative earlier, just felt like they were reaching with 2-3, but hearing more and more good things about the pix. Most of you guys and girls whatch a lot more college than I do. This just has to be a good good draft if we want to keep up, so lets hope my first feelings were way wrong.

  5. By Steve on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Darren: I just wish this team would draft a pure edge rusher for once even if he’s just a project, Okafor is a solid player but he’s like the rest of our outside LBs in that he really doesnt threaten the edge consistently. Seems like unless the Cards use exotic blitzes, they dont get to the QB enough.

  6. By William Barry on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    I just saw we picked up in the sixth round, WR R. Swope, and I did see a clip on him on ESPN, and he catches everything thrown his way. ANOTHER great pick, and another weapon for our arsenal. BA, another solid player, who can be a sleeper pick. It takes the heat off of Larry and Floyd.

    I’m sick and tired about hearing about Seattle, SF, and the Rams. We filled our needs on OL, S, DL/ILB, WR, I think they did MUCH better overall, then the rest of the NFC West.

  7. By david on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Good pick az. Alfonzo smith wasnt going to show us anything new.

    Welcome pac_ 12 native

  8. By William Barry on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Sorry for last comment, WE DID BETTER than SF, Seattle, and Rams.

  9. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    What a steal!!!!!!!!

    Love, Love, Love the 6th round pick Ryan Swope.

    Slot WR , with 4.3 speed, and size, with amazing production at A&M. My favorite pick of the draft. Awesome.
    Dropped because of concusions.

    Taylor is a great addition at RB and I am really excited about Earl Watford at guard.
    Our offensive line has gotten very athletic with the two guards chosen.

    Okafor, our OLB, was a beast at the senior bowl week of practices. I really thought he was more of a 4-3 DE but worse case, he becomes a pass rush specialist. Good value pick.

    Day two was two interesting picks. Minter is a tackling machine but is a younger faster version of Brinkley.
    Honey Badger was a great pick. He will learn to be a FS and drop down on slot wrs as a nickle. If he stays clean, he is an awesome pick.

  10. By Jerrytown on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Feeling better about the #1 pick now that you see the plan coming together? Couldn’t agree with you more about these day 2-3 guys! We got a couple high risk high reward guys in Honey Badger and Swope.

    Love the Swope pick too, I’m with you there. Dude has had some absolute beast games against big competition. If he can stay healthy I think he could become a huge playmaker and fan favorite on our team. Like like the dual RBs who are both 3 down guys with a knack for pass pro. And durable! Maybe be got a future starting duo, who knows?

    I think we’ve added a solid mix of offense and defense, addressing some needs especially on the interior line. I love Keim and Arians…they are a perfect fit and work well together. I think they have a plan in place and I like what I’ve seen. When was the last time you saw an offseason where we were so active and actually taking steps to improve the FUTURE of this team, while also making us quite competitive right now.

    I’m a happy Cardinals fan.

  11. By Harold on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    no surprise – two new guards – a new back – if okafor is sam acho or similar – plus an impact ILB tackling machine. seems like a solid draft. I am a bit perplexed on the grade on Cooper as compared with Warmack and other top ten talents. his grade was markedly lower. wonder where the cards had him graded or its more scheme or upside…

  12. By lurker on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Harold —

    Its viewpoint. analysts thought one thing others thought another. Mark Schlereth said on espn radio he was the best looking guard he had ever evaluated two nights before the draft. We’ll see eventually.

  13. By Elijah on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Minter was certainly not a reach, his value was actually closer to the pick we trade away (high 2nd). In a division with Frank Gore and Beast Mode, you need someone who can, as Keim said, hit guys and make them go backwards, not forwards. Matheiu has that really special X factor you don’t see very often. Yes he’s too small, but that is part of his greatness. If you are on his team and you see him out there doing what he does its bound to be infectious. Add in the instincts of a LB and I think he will end up starting at FS sooner rather than later.

    The Day 2 picks they really nailed it in my opinion. Great job Cards. Now its up to the coaches to turn these guys into NFL pros.

  14. By William Barry on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Mel Kiper just said R. Swope is a load to handle, runs 4.44 speed, and can be a perfect slot receiver……The clip that was displayed on the draft board shows he can turn directions on a dime….Right before the pick, I said to myself I would love to get R. Swope, and we did!!!!!


  15. By Jason on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Agreed, We’ve gotten some great value late with Okafor, Taylor and Swope and I think we did well on days 1 & 2…all 6 of those players should see significant snaps this year and we still have 2 more picks.

  16. By Elijah on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Swopes ran a 4.34, not 4.44. I’m glad we missed Goodwin, to me this was a much better value in r6 considering he will be a 4th or 5th WR at best.

  17. By Bill L on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Solid, but not spectacular picks……..Tyrann and Swope, all depends on dope and concussions.

    The QUESTIONS remain and the time needed to make this a contender depends on the answers.;

    Tackles; Is Levi an NFL LT and is Massie an NFL RT? If the answer for Levi is NO, then it is a huge HOLE…….if the Answer for Massie is NO, then it is just a critical hole. Is Massie the RT of the 1st Half or the RT of the 2nd Half. I think we find out in the first few games.

    Then there is that QB thing……..JAX, TENN and OAK(atleast) should have worse records than the Cards…..and, IMO, all will be looking for a QB, along with the Cards.

  18. By William Barry on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Trent Dilfer said R. Swope is a great pick for the Cardinals offense. We just picked another RB, from Clemson, and again, you can never have enough running backs. We need to run, run, run, the ball to take the heat off of Carson Palmer.

    Take a seat SF and Seattle, and St. Louis Rams!!!

  19. By William Barry on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    I just saw the tape of Andre Ellington, and both mel kiper and Todd McShay, really likes this back, he runs much harder than he shows on tape, and he really runs a 4.4, and Mel Kiper said he has MORE talent than C.J. Spiller. Amazing.

    GO CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. By Eric G on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply


    Any idea why the Cards picked up Ellison and passed on a tackle like Fragel?

  21. By Darren Urban on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Eric G —

    RE: Ellington

    Nope. Probably because they didn’t have him graded higher.

  22. By Seeredinnc on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Just saw the highlight tape on Ryan swope for just last year against top notch competition…. Whoaaa!!! Fast as lightning, runs great routes, catches everything thrown his way and no one can catch him from behind!! We all wanted that down field threat! We got it!!

    Upgraded line-check
    Upgrade at QB-check
    Upgrade at ILB and DE- check
    Upgrade at durable RB’s who can run, catch and pass protect-check
    Upgrade at slot WR to stretch the field-check

    This draft has been terrific and imagine what our offense can do to teams now!!!

  23. By Jason on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    I’ve been flying so I missed some picks but wow…I’m not worried about tackle depth like Bill L and I’m not opposed to the offensive skill players selected. Just surprised we didn’t double up on edge rushers and safties Cornelious Wahington was available and we passed.

  24. By jetstreamgreen81 on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Loving this draft so far. Cooper I talked about Thursday. Minter in 2nd, great pick and he can fill in for DWash while suspended. Honey Badger, great playmaker who can play nickel CB or safety plus return kicks. Okafor and Watford great picks in the 4th and fill needs as well. Stepfan Taylor is a great back and a steal in the 5th round. Swope and Ellington in the 6th, great value picks as well. Can’t wait for the 7th and free agent pickups who don’t get drafted to fill out the team. Can’t wait for the season and I think the Cards had one of the best if not best drafts in the division as well as the whole league. Go Cards can’t wait for the season.

  25. By Alvin on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply


    Have you seen this, yet?


  26. By John The Draft Guy on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply


    I’m guessing you were referring to my post.

    I will try to make myself a little more clear about my position. There is always a debate about taking a top player or getting more players. I think Cooper is a very good player who makes our line and team better. But read this post from Eric;

    i wish they had 3 or maybe 4 fourth rounders.. alot of players i still like.. Ryan Swope, Cornelius Washington, Quinton Patton, Barret Jones, Jonathan Franklin, Andre Ellington, Phillip Thomas… just to name a few.

    My point of trading down was it gives us an extra two, three and four.

    I think the draft was excellent. I think they picked players who will help this team play better. I know Honey Badger is going to safety, so that takes that need away.

    We ended up meeting most of our other needs except a young QB and LT. I like Massie, Cooper, Watford, Sendlin. I also like Potter. Just not sold on Brown at LT and if Potter isn’t the guy, I would have liked that address. Unless they think Potter can be the guy and are going to give him a chance to earn it.

    With what Philly did, could Foles be in play for a trade??? Sit for 3 years and then take over??

    As for Swope, by next year, he is our 3rd wr. This is a fast, big version of Welker. If healthy, maybe not this year, but next year, he will be a big part of the offense.

  27. By Jason on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Bill L,

    Did you thumbs down me! I’m not opposed to tackle depth just don’t believe it’s a MUST right now

  28. By chriswesl on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Keim and BA work so good together and this draft is an example of what the future holds for the Cards!!

  29. By Jason on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Ahhhh!!!! Ty Powell was my dark horse guy!

  30. By Andy Kw on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Our team just got so much better after the draft, here is my opinion on who the starters and final roster will be:
    QB: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley
    RB: Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington
    FB: Anthony Sherman
    WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Ryan Swope, LaRon Byrd
    TE: Rob Housler, Jeff King, Jim Dray
    OT: Levi Brown, Bobby Massie, Nate Potter
    OG: Jonathan Cooper, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Chilo Rachal
    C: Lyle Sendlein, Senio Kelemete
    DE: Calais Campbell, Matt Shaughnessy
    DT: Darnell Dockett, Frostee Rucker
    NT: Dan Williams, David Carter
    LB: Daryl Washington, Kevin Minter, Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, O’Brien Schofield, Jaspar Brinkley, Lorenzo Alexander, Reggie Walker
    CB: Patrick Peterson, Antoine Cason, Jerraud Powers, Jamell Fleming, Jonathan Amaya
    S: Rashad Johnson, Yeremiah Bell, Tyrann Matheiu, Justin Bethel
    K: Jay Feely
    P: Dave Zastudil
    LS: Mike Leach

    -D.C Jefferson (Undetermined)
    -I know, I need 1 more after Jefferson on the roster but idk who.
    Cut: QB Brian Hoyer, RB Alfonzo Smith, RB William Powell, OG Adam Snyder, DB Bryan McCann, DB Curtis Taylor, P Will Batson, WR Jarett Dillard, OG Paul Fanaika, C Scott Wedige, G/C Mike Gibson, TE Kory Sperry, DE Ronald Talley, LB Zach Nash, TE Alex Gottlieb, WR Robert Gill, WR Kerry Taylor,

  31. By Chuck 1 on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply


    Now that the draft is over and the Cards didn’t draft a PURE safety, what do you think the probability is that the Cards try to re-sign Rhodes?

  32. By Darren Urban on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Chuck 1 —

    RE: Rhodes

    I’d say zero.

  33. By sbrown on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    really like the first Draft of the Keim / Ariens era. really looks like they had a very good draft board, had a couple of picks fall to them, used a trade down in R2 to get two more picks. IMO the entire FO staff did a great job !

  34. By ored on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    nice draft from the bald brothers and i mean that in a good way.can’t make everybody happy,but still nicely done.i would’ve liked a better known presence at te,but they seem happy with the potential so he gets my vote.

    best thing is the players seem to be such nice and positive guys,absolutely love coops demeanor,and he’s smart to boot.awesome we have players from the same lsu and texas teams .keim needs to be scouting tarheels for a teammate for coop and maybe a tackle from texas a&m for swopes next year.

    well,they delivered on player personel choices,now they just need to follow through in coaching them up.feels so good to finally have a plan that is working.also getting the feeling that the players are getting into this,could be a special season.

  35. By johnnybluenose on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    like most of you i am feeling pretty good about this draft. i am glad we resisted drafting a quarterback. but, let’s not forget that other teams also drafted well and we still have a lot of work to do. there will still be a flurry of undrafted signings. it will be an interesting training camp for sure and it will be interesting to see how last year’s picks do, especially our deep backs. it looks a bit crowded there right now. and how many running backs will we keep? is there any hope for william powell if everyone else stays healthy? will we have anyone at fullback at all? i wish i could look four months into the future to see how this all plays out. who stays, who goes. there will probably be some surprises. this new regime doesn’t owe a whole lot to last year’s roster. fasten your seat belts. it could be a helluva ride

  36. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    I love the Taylor pick. A reliable pounder that reminds me a bit of Ottis Anderson. We need guys like him that we can rely on to get the short yardage gains to run out the clock and finish games when we are ahead late in the game.

  37. By sbrown on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    to Andy Kw, about the last spot on your roster, I think I would keep LB Zach Nash. Might need the extra ILB for the first four games while D. Wash is out. Right now with what I know about BA’s offense, don’t know if he would keep a FB on the roster…

  38. By azbobbyb on Apr 27, 2013 | Reply

    Good job Steve and Bruce. One thing that always bothered me about your predecessors is that they would always just, seemingly, take make a pick without, taking into account whether or not they could trade down and still get that player. Many a time I felt that they could have done so and that it was certainly worth the risk to do so. I was delighted to see that you traded down twice and got a couple of extra players that may be really good players for us. i was surprised that you didn’t pick up Tyler Bray or Matt Scott with the last pick, but, hopefully, the tight end that you took will justify the pick. Don’t know much about him. Again, well done, guys.

  39. By johnnybluenose on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    Alvin. that was a great clip on swopes. thanks.

  40. By johnnybluenose on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    Chuck 1. until he is released, rhodes is a new england patriot.

  41. By redbirdsr#1 on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    so this is what i predtict our roster will look like:
    QB: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley
    RB: Stepfan Taylor, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Andre Ellington
    FB: Anthony Sherman
    WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Ryan Swofe, LaRon Byrd
    TE: Jeff King, Rob Housler, D.C. Jefferson, Jim Dray
    OT: Levi Brown, Nate Potter, Bobbie Massie
    OG: Jonathan Cooper, Earl Watford, Drayn Colledge, Chilo Rachel
    C: Lyle Sendlein, Senoi Kelemete
    DE: Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, Lorenzo Alexander
    DT: Calais Cambell, Darnell Dockett, Matt Shaughnessy
    NT: Dan Williams, David Carter
    LB: Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofeild, Kevin Minter, Jaspar Brinkley, Reggie Walker
    CB: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Casone, Jamell Fleming, Jonathan Amaya
    S: Tyrann Mathieu, Rashad Johnson, Yeremiah Bell, Justin Bethel
    K: Jay Felly
    P: Dave Zastudil
    LS: Mike Leach
    KR: Andre Ellington, Tyrann Mathieu
    PR: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
    Great draft by the cards
    hope we can do better than last season

  42. By Roland on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    Chuck our new pure saftey might be Javon Harris , he looks good on you tube

  43. By dieselbomb on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    For Punt / Kick Returner, don’t forget BA and Keim have reserved a potential spot for Cribbs.

    That was lost in the Draft frenzy.

    He’s supposed to be back at the end of a two-week period that started middle of last week, as I recall. He was returning for a follow-up Physical. I believe he signed an agreement … the validity of which is contingent on the results of that physical. So, he might already be part of the team awaiting only the formality of a clean Bill of Health according to Team Doctors .

  44. By Darren Urban on Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    Diesel —

    RE: Cribbs

    It wasn’t lost. I asked Keim about it specifically. Don’t hold your breath.

  45. By ored on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    anybody know more about d.c.jefferson,the it just his athleticsm that intrigues keim and ba.we had chances to get better known players at that position?

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