The missing second-round pick

Posted by Darren Urban on November 19, 2013 – 9:32 am

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim believes injured first-round pick Jonathan Cooper is a “slam-dunk” as a starter in the NFL. The Cardinals have found gold in third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu and running back Andre Ellington, and the draft class is off to a decent start because of it. But out of sight, out of mind is linebacker Kevin Minter, the team’s second-round pick. Minter plays, but only on special teams. He’s gotten one defensive snap in 10 games. In a league where second-round picks usually come in and play right away, it’s noticeable.

Minter’s situation is easily explained, and fortunately for the Cardinals, it doesn’t have anything to do with Minter being a bust. To the contrary, it has everything to do with veteran Karlos Dansby, who ended up signing — somewhat surprisingly — as a free agent with the Cards after Minter was drafted and who has found a fountain of youth season in his return to Arizona. In the meantime, Minter plays special teams. And waits.

“I mean, it’s alright,” Minter said. “I’m not comfortable with it. I’m ready to play and whatnot, but I know I need to learn more. What he’s got on me is experience and I can envision in the future being able to take that spot. I’m just trying to contribute as much as I can to the team.”

Keim acknowledges the draft class already had a couple of misses in late-round picks Ryan Swope and D.C. Jefferson. Minter is not one of them.

“The one guy who has an asterisk beside him is Kevin Minter,” Keim said. “Kevin just has a unique situation, he came in behind Karlos Dansby who is having a fantastic year. We didn’t draft Kevin thinking he had to come in a start right away. We were drafting him with the mindset we are drafting a really good football player at a position that is going to be a need, whether it was now or the future. He is continually growing.

“We have high expectations for him. It just so happens after the draft we had a chance to sign Karlos and the rest is history. It goes back to not only wanting to improve starting talent but also depth. There’s noting wrong with bringing in a Kevin Minter, who you have high hopes for, playing behind a talented veteran like Karlos, learning the mental side of things.”

That doesn’t make it easier for Minter. Dansby is only signed to a one-year contract and his status for 2014 is up in the air. Dansby has played really well, but he is 32 and it will be interesting to see how both he and the team approach contract negotiations. It’s possible Dansby tests the market value first, although it was that stark reality last year that finally allowed him to accept the Cards’ offer (and one of the reasons it took so long for him to sign, after the draft.) Dansby is happy in his spot, regardless of his contract.

Minter said his role makes him almost feel like he is redshirting in college again. He is playing (and Bruce Arians has praised his special teams play) though, and he understands what Dansby is giving the Cardinals as well.

“He’s doing his thing,” Minter said of Dansby. “He’s playing lights out, playing out of his mind. You just compete every day.”


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35 Responses to “The missing second-round pick”

  1. By mark on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    I really see Minter being the guy down the line. It still worries me that he hasn’t made a huge impact. But I trust Kiem and what he is doing. This Draft class has been really special for Arizona. It’s nice having Ellington as that home run guy. Matheiu in my opinion, is the biggest steal of the draft. I think Cooper will make us so much better when he returns. The guy is so athletic for a lineman. Can run upfield and is just special in the run blocking. Even with Carson good game, I still want a QB taken in this year’s draft. Palmer obviously isn’t the guy, even against the jaguars he makes some bonehead decisions. I still have faith we can win the next 4 and get us a playoff berth. No way we will lose another division game this year. Seattle will be by far the hardest, but our defense is so special. They give us an opportunity to win any game. Let’s go Cardinals!

  2. By LadyBird04 on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    We really have two unknowns for 2014 at ILB – Dansby is only contracted for ths year and Washington is still awaiting adjudication on his “assault” charges. If either of those two don’t/can’t play next year, Minter will be very valuable to the Cards. Special teams are crucial to every game and at least he’s on the field and learning in practices and during meetings.

  3. By georgiebird on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Excellent article but the conclusions are shaky.
    You hit the nail on the head when you said that 2nd round picks usually come in and start. For Minter to sit behind Dansby is not a good situation. Just like Tyrann came in and got his playing time, Minter should have some strong suits that would give him playing time over Dansby in some game situations.
    Dansby is playing well but not that good to keep an early #2 at bay. Dansby has never lived up to his potential and has garnered little or no league honors over a 10 year career. For a Cardinals’ LB Dansby is pretty good but that’s not saying much.
    It’s a sore subject but the Cardinals have never produced great linebackers. DWash could be the best in 50 years and he has limitations and has still to make all-pro without injuries to other guys. Only Ken Harvey and Jamir Miller might have been better and they gained All Pro honors after leaving the Cardinals.
    And there isn’t enough room for me to list all the bust picks the Cardinals have made at the linebacker position- and a 3-4 defense to boot.

  4. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Dansby

    I’m stunned, stunned I tell you, that you chimed in on this subject. Equally stunned with the direction you took.

    I’m sure you are stunned to hear as well I think you are in error.

  5. By Dynosoar on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply


    quick question, as you mentioned two LB’s had all-pro years, but after they left the Cards. Is it possible it wasn’t that they played better after leaving, but that because of biases their play wasn’t noticed because they played for our Cardinals.

    I listened to the OT after a game the other night and they discussed all the possible NFC Wild Card teams that were 6-4 and didn’t even mention the Cardinals. Is this a possible reason our players are passed up for Pro-Bowls? I think so, what do you think?

    I’ve never been a huge Dansby fan, but this year I’m all on board with Dansby and am extremely pleased he’s in Cardinals red. I’ll wait for Minter to be on the field starting.

  6. By georgiebird on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    You can be stunned by what I’ve said but you can’t dispute it. I never said Dansby was a bad player.
    Everyone is too emotional about this and I knew it as I wrote it. But I stand behind my post. If you can get away from the emotional side of it- tell me where I’m wrong.
    The team is doing well but we just got thru beating what could be the three worst teams in the league. The LB play against three QBs who are pretty bad this year is no litmus test for LBs.
    Yes, I do have a “button” when it comes to Cardinals’LBs- it goes back to a time before you were born.

  7. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: A time before I was born

    Ah. You mean the time completely irrelevant to the 2013 Cardinals?

    Yes, ownership family is the same, but ownership is not, and certainly not the people calling the personnel shots.

  8. By birdgangrising on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Is georgiebird’s comment a joke? I’m having trouble understanding the perception there.

    DWash is obviously one of the premier ILBs in the NFL right now. That’s not even up for discussion – you won’t find an NFL analyst out there that will disagree. The big reason he’s never made All-Pro is a guy named Patrick Willis, and finishing behind him isn’t a terrible thing. The only thing keeping him from being elite is the uncertainty of his off the field stuff.

    As for Dansby, for ILB/MLBs he’s 1st in pass deflections, top 5 in sacks, and top 10 in tackles. Again, there’s no disputing he’s playing among the best in the league right now at that position. You could argue that he’s been overrated in the past, but this year speaks for itself.

    As for the history, well, he’s certainly right about that – there have been some big busts there. But that’s not particularly relevant to this year or this regime.

  9. By Cody Zarr on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply


    Talk about shaky conclusions… Jeez.

    I don’t generally like to defend Rod Graves, but when someone makes a baseless and pretty ridiculous claim I just can’t ignore it. We have picked up Sam Acho, Daryl Washington, Brandon Johnson, Darryl Blackstock, Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes all within the last 10 years of the draft.

    If you stay at the 3rd round or above there have only been 3 players that didn’t amount to much; Cody Brown, Buster Davis (2nd 3rd round pick) and Levar Fisher.

    I’m sorry, but not every draft pick needs to burn the scoreboards down to be a good pick. If you end up with a 10 year career out of a 2nd-3rd round pick you’re doing pretty damn good with your pick.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning behind the fastest ILB in the NFL and a man who was once the highest paid LB in the league. I’m not sure why you think a LB needs to be decorated with awards to be a better option than a second round draft pick straight out of college. Seems a little ridiculous to me, and from the sheer volume of thumbs down your post got, it would seem everyone agrees. Perhaps you should take a look at most of the feedback on your posts and reconsider your line of thinking.

  10. By BigRedHyperbole on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply


    RE: Dansby and georgiebird

    As an avid reader of this blog, I also am sarcastically shocked that georgiebird threw in his two cents. But I have to say his little missive doesn’t seem that misdirected to me. It does raise an eyebrow when a young, 2nd round LB pick amasses a defensive snap count of one. ONE. I’m not calling into question Minter’s potential, his status as a successful draft pick, or the decision of the coaches. But this definitely raises an eyebrow, as you suggested in your article.

    Building on all of this, my question is this: how much money is Minter slated to make next year and what is Dansby likely to make a push for salary wise in the off season? I know this involves some speculation on the Dansby part, but I’m just curious if you have an idea. Seems to me Dansby is in a catch 22 come the off season. If he tests free agency and it goes poorly, his salary demands suffer. If he doesn’t, his bargaining position at the table is compromised, particularly if Minter is slated to make a decent salary and push for the starting job. Those are uncomfortable shoes to be in, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

  11. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    BigRed —

    RE: Minter snaps

    Two points I’d make on the lack of work. One, they also signed Jasper Brinkley and he’s not playing much either. Why? That’s leads to two: Because both Washington and Dansby are playing every snap. Practically every single one. If the Cards were using other linebackers, yes, that’d be an issue. But if the better players are able to play all the time, and Dansby is better than Minter, I don’t see the issue.

    Minter is going to be making an affordable salary regardless of his playing time. As for Dansby, you are right. He already found himself wanting in the open market this past offseason and he is going to be a year older. That said, he is having a good year. I think Karlos’ days of getting a three-year contract for anything substantial are probably over. I think he knows that. We’ll have to see what happens. If Dansby doesn’t return, everyone is going to be happy they have Minter. And don’t forget, Dansby fell in their laps. When they took Minter — as I noted above — Dansby was too rich for their blood, and he probably would be playing right now had that held true.

  12. By Andy Kw on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Kevin Minter will be our future Linebacker. He has good instincts but is still in the learning phase. I feel that if we give him 2 years, he will be one of the most dynamic Inside Linebackers in the league. Be patient people because he is a guy that is going to explode in the future.

  13. By ored on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    from time to time,some comments are just absurd and show tunnel vision or too much in the box thinking.general,sweeping statements,not considering time frames or curcumstances usually fit these good reason some players break out on a different team is that they are on a different team,all different players,coaches,and division,maybe even domed stadiums and location make the difference.if some players use a chip on their shoulders to become better,then who’s to say what it takes to motivate different players.teams should go with the hot hand,after all every season is different,maybe minter goes on to a HOF career but right now dansby is playing very well and it is hard to unseat him.maybe his career up to this point is underachieving,i don’t know that,but this year he is just what we need and is playing at the top of his game,and like i said previously,team mates can make a big difference,and washington and dansby are dynamic together.knock the offense if you want,but the D deserves kudos.

  14. By Steve on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    They once asked Emmit Smith, when he was in his prime with the Cowboys, who
    was the toughest and hardest hitting linebacker he ever faced AND he said Eric Hill of the Cardinals. Eric was drafted out of LSU and he was a great, great linebacker. Also have to mention, for getting everything he could out of his athletic ability, undrafted free agent Ronald “Mac Dog” McKinnon.

  15. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    I will hang on to that replay in my mind of Mnter concussing that TE on that special teams play and feel dang good about having that guy ready to step up. Not fast but he can run THROUGH people. Thumperiffic. Hang tough Kevin, your time will come.

  16. By Mr Robles on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren I heard about a week ago Bills were filing a complaint towards scheduling & with Cards this it was easily to point out we had a hard week between to division rivals in a short week. Do you think Cards will take that approach?

  17. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Mr. Robles —

    RE: Complaining

    If you are going to complain, why wouldn’t it be in April when the schedule comes out?

  18. By roben10 on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    I can’t believe this subject got so touchy. We have one of the best ILB in the game in Washington, who when healthy, doesn’t come out. Now, we also have Dansby who has 83 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int and 13 passes deflected and a FF. He is having an amazing year. He is probably playing with more fire this year because he feels slighted and it shows because he is everywhere on the field.

    It is okay that Minter isn’t playing. He is learning from some very talented guys. It reminds me of how Pittsburgh takes care of their linebackers. Lawrence Timmons was a first round pick and Lamar Woodley was a second round pick and both barely saw the field their first year. Yet, they both have had very respectable careers so far.

    I see nothing wrong with a guy learning when there are more competent people ahead of him. It drives me insane to see a veteran like Mendenhal out there trying to jump cut to the outside when he only needs a yard or two, but that is a different topic. I love that Keim doesn’t settle for what he has and is always trying to make this team better.

  19. By David on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Will swope try out next yr?

  20. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    David —

    RE: Swope

    No idea.

  21. By Big Ken on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    You guys are probably going to boo me, but I think Dansby is gone after this season. Some team will over pay. Good for Carlos. D. Washington has had his off field issues but we keep him at all cost. Next plug and play Minter.

  22. By Dr. G. on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    When someone is caught in a bubble of antiquity, time and effort is wasted in a debate; it simply fuels the fire and gratifies that individual. The best reaction is a sympathetic, understanding non-response. It is incumbent upon the moderator to respond…and he always presents a professional, relevant effort.

    Minter, as others, are being compensated very well while learning. I was reticent at the re-hiring of Dansby given his age, but he has basically no learning curve, and presents the best ability at his position… It’s called common sense. He will be among the single-year contracts that loom large after this season… Be well, Cards Fans….

    How do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time! (As in one game at a time)

    Ponies up next…hoping Bethel is OK….

  23. By georgiebird on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Read all the responses and it makes me feel good that I can keep this blog alive and kicking.
    My comments stand and I look at the group as being very shortsighted and emotional.
    In a similar vein, why do we need a QB? Carson Palmer threw for over 400 yards last week with two TDs and NO interceptions- he’s getting better each week!! And he’s only 33 years old-he must have a good 3 or 4 years left.
    All is well in Cardinals’ land (baseball and football).

  24. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Responses

    So you are the only one on the comments that isn’t prone to hyperbole?

  25. By Tien on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren if Dansby were to come back next year, do you think Minter would get more defensive snaps next year or would his role be the same as this year?

  26. By Darren Urban on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Tien —

    RE: Dansby

    No idea. Will have to see how both are playing next year.

  27. By Dennis on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    Dansby is playing some of the best football of his career and I for one would like/expect the Cards to do what they have to do to re-sign him maybe for two years. Minter’s time will come. Best to learn first,he’s young and has a lot of time to develop.

  28. By paul on Nov 19, 2013 | Reply

    You keep talking about people being too emotional. Why wouldn’t I be emotional about the cardinals? I’m a huge Cardinal fan, and get emotional about the Cardinals every Sunday!!! Win or lose!!! Do you ever watch the games or do you just look at stats and read articles? If you watch the games and don’t get emotional, I wonder if you are really a fan. GO CARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. By Mr Robles on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply

    Good point but why weren’t the defending champs put out on a limb? For some reason Cardinals are put in akward situations but 2 rivals in a short week cmon….What other team was put in that position?

  30. By Angelo on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply

    D-Wash is a must keep. The league has been filled with guys with character issues. I think his absence was a real eye opener for him and it won’t be an issue going forward. Look at Vontaez Burfict. Character/off-field issues for days. Cincinati stole him as a UFA. People can and do change.

    As for Minter. He’ll be starting next year. Dansby will go elsewhere for better money and I think Kiem is intelligent enough to let that happen. Minter will be solid for us going forward. I base this on his attitude and his college career. He was a tackling machine at LSU.

  31. By kanderson51 on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply

    Re: Gerogie’s first comment

    Georgie, a lack of awards or honours is not indicative of a bad player. They are indicative of transcendent players who have large impacts on games and have to be accounted and game planned for every week. As an example, London Fletcher had 10 years with no honours to start his career. He then made 4 consecutive pro bowls. Or how about Thomas Davis, who is playing lights out for the Panthers right now? He’s never received any pro bowls, all-pros, etc. either.
    In regards to your complaints about the lack of playing time for Minter, good linebackers don’t have to leave the field on 3rd down. Take a look at some of the linebacker pairs around the league who are always on the field. Willis and Bowman in San Fran, Luke Kuechly and Davis in Carolina. These guys don’t need to be subbed off of the field. Now, maybe Minter is better in certain situations than Dansby, but who can say for certain? Unless you have been following him since his days at LSU and see how he performs in practice, maybe he isn’t a better situational player than Dansby at this point in his career. He’s still a rookie, and the transition from college to the NFL, adjusting to the speed of the game, learning a new playbook, etc. is quite difficult. Many fans take it for granted that players are able to go straight from college to the NFL and play, but that is often not the case. Game experience is the best experience, but learning behind a veteran like Dansby is not necessarily a bad thing for Minter. It’s better than being exposed on the field of play and getting ridiculed by fans, that’s for sure.
    While I agree that seeing playing time would be a good thing for Minter, football is a team game and coaches make decisions that put the team in the best situation to win. Minter said it himself; he will do whatever it takes to help his team win. Playing Dansby over Minter is a decision that was made by the coaching staff, professionals who are getting paid to make these decisions. So please, keep your opinions about who should be playing to yourself rather than creating conflict on the internet. It’s not like the coaching staff is going to read the comments on this blog and decide that Minter should be playing more.

    PS you’re really going to use personnel mistakes from decades ago in an attempt to ridicule the current regime? Really dude?

    PPS I just saw Georgie’s latest comment about Carson Palmer. While I do not dislike the man, he is not the answer for the Cardinals at QB. He put up 400+ yards against the JAGS. He has struggled in most games this year. In the current NFC West, the Cardinals need a QB who is going to play efficient, mistake-free football and can convert on 3rd down. This is not Carson Palmer. I think Georgie is simply making these comments to stir the pot, or has been living in a hole the entire season. Likely a bit of both.

  32. By Cheese on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply


    Is there any discussion of possible contract extension for Dansby? I know we have Minter behind him, but a) there’s no doubt that the Dansby-Washington-Duo is the best this team has ever seen and one of the best in the league b) there’s nothing definitive that says Minter pans out…nor can play all three downs like Dansby can and c) unfortunately, we are looking at the possibility that Washington faces more problems with the league as his domestic abuse case was pushed until after the season, which could = another suspension, or maybe worse as he’d be a two-time offender as far as the league’s conduct policy.

    I’d really like to hope the Cardinals are being proactive here. We opened up cap room with the Levi trade and I can’t think of anyone on this team more deserving of that cap space then Dansby at this point. I’d like to think Los is smart enough to know that his days of getting a big contract are over, but it feels like both the team and Los could benefit from a two or three year extension at a reasonable salary considering his production and no signs of slowing down.


  33. By Darren Urban on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply

    Cheese —

    RE: Dansby extension

    I have not heard anything, although that does not mean nothing has happened.

    This would be my speculation — and at this point, that’s all it is. I would think the Cards would want him back, for many of the reasons you mentioned. But it would be on their terms. Karlos may want to see if his big year can translate into more money on the open market. Would he agree to what the Cards offer without testing? Perhaps. You talk about Dansby understanding his place in this game/contracts, and he seems to talk that way. But will he actually act that way in this case. Knowing how the front office is now, using analytics and watching the age of players carefully, the Cards will approach this very smartly.

  34. By Dre on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply

    I don’t know what everyone is think Carlos is a stud look at every team he played for. lead all of them in tackles or close too. At 6 ft 5 that speed and instinks the only problem is his hands. Get a deal done ASAP there no way that kid could beat him out of that spot this year or next or the next one. Minter no disrespect to him is small and slow but he good not Los good. Los hasn’t lost anything yet he looks better now then when he first was here or just getting smarter. Him and D wash no better combo hands down look at the tape it dont lie.

  35. By Chuck 1 on Nov 20, 2013 | Reply


    You wrote to georgiebird: “So please, keep your opinions about who should be playing to yourself rather than creating conflict on the internet. It’s not like the coaching staff is going to read the comments on this blog and decide that Minter should be playing more.
    PPS I just saw Georgie’s latest comment about Carson Palmer. While I do not dislike the man, he is not the answer for the Cardinals at QB. He put up 400+ yards against the JAGS. He has struggled in most games this year. In the current NFC West, the Cardinals need a QB who is going to play efficient, mistake-free football and can convert on 3rd down. This is not Carson Palmer.”

    My comment: As Darren likes to write in similar situations: Pot, meet kettle”

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