Catch-up time for Keim for draft

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2013 – 11:23 am

Last week at the owners meetings, GM Steve Keim was anxious to get them over with. He was going straight to the airport after the meetings closed on Wednesday and flying right to Georgia’s pro day among other destinations. Free agency was the topic still but that was about to morph. Soon. “We will jump into the draft mode because I feel I am significantly behind,” Keim said.

At his core, Keim is about evaluating talent. There are different ways someone rises to the job of general manager, and Keim got there from years of scouting and doing a good job of it. It makes sense he wouldn’t want to turn back on his roots. What will eventually be interesting is whether Keim’s influence on the Top 120 board for the draft changes much than it was when he was VP of player personnel under GM Rod Graves. The point of the Cardinals having draft meetings is for scouts and coaches — and further up the food chain, Keim — to discuss and debate what they think of each player and then come up with a final grade. That’s the number the group will use to set that board and in the end, draft their players.

Mocks will come out constantly in April. The latest Todd McShay version echoes the narrative the Cardinals’ direction has taken overall, which is that the team seems unlikely to take a quarterback first (and in McShay’s picks, Geno Smith — the one guy who seems to make sense as a top 10 pick, is already chosen by No. 7). McShay has Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson going in the first round to the Cards and then the team taking N.C. State QB Mike Glennon in the second round. Good discussion fodder. Beyond that, who knows.

Keim, though, forges ahead in his work. Nothing is set in stone right now. For a guy who built an NFL career through the draft, it makes sense that he’ll want his team built that way too. I still think a QB is going to be taken somewhere, but that comes with a caveat — I truly believe Keim would be willing to pass on a QB if the right one isn’t there. The Drew Stanton-in-2013 thing isn’t a lock — too much can still happen — but it’s not a smokescreen either. In the meantime, the Cards will look carefully at offensive linemen in a draft filled with them, try to get a key cog in the first round regardless of position, and go from there.

And while Keim might have felt behind last week, something tells me he will catch up very quickly.

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Drafting a quarterback — and No. 7

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2013 – 10:06 am

A) Your team needs a quarterback;

B) Your team has a top 10 pick;

So C) there is endless speculation about that team drafting a quarterback with their first-round selection.

The Cardinals are in that loop right now. Most of the early mock drafts (mockable totally in the sense that they are based on little but surface connect-the-dots) had the Cards taking quarterback with their first round pick, seventh overall. That seems to have slowed down of late, in large part because of coach Bruce Arians’ own words.

“I think all speculators look at need and not the draft board,” Arians said. “If you draft for need, you’re in trouble. Just because you need one you don’t take one, if there is a better player there who is going to help your football team.”

That doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t take a QB first. I think that’s being sorted out right now in a draft that many believe isn’t top-heavy in talent and is deep in offensive linemen. But it’s easy to see a scenario where the Cards go elsewhere than quarterback in the first round and save a QB pick for round two or three.

“If there is a quarterback who fits the spot in the draft that you put him in at, that fits the value, then you take one,” Arians said. “That’s why I feel very comfortable with our situation with Drew Stanton in our mix. The need value is not there.”

It is clear that Arians likes Stanton. But it also behooves him to talk him up because there is a chance, in this totally fluid time when no one knows how the draft will go or if another interesting veteran could come available, that Stanton will be the starter and then Arians will have expressed confidence in Stanton from the jump. That makes sense. But I still think that no matter how the rest of the QB roster shakes out the team will draft a QB.

It was suddenly big news that the Cardinals are working out N.C. State QB Mike Glennon but that shouldn’t shock anyone either. The Cards are going to do due diligence on every one of the top QBs and just because there will be a workout doesn’t mean a) they will draft him or b) they will even decide they like him enough. Is he in the mix? I think he could be, but that’s what this time of analysis is for. GM Steve Keim went to N.C. State and has his ties there, and the former coaches at the school did pick Glennon as their “guy” over Russell Wilson (which is why Wilson transferred to Wisconsin), so Glennon must be decent. But I don’t see he or any other QB going in the second round stepping in to be a rookie starter even if Keim and Arians like to get QBs work early.

The speculation is going to play out over and over until the draft actually starts (IMO, by the way, Geno Smith is gone by the seventh pick, so what will really be available early anyway?) But in a world right now where the Cardinals haven’t even started their draft meetings nor come close to setting there Top 120 board (I know I’ve said that before), this is all fluid.


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