Honey Badger and Day 2 aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2013 – 10:30 pm

Well OK then.

So I was thinking it would have been interesting — very — had the Cardinals taken Manti Te’o in the second round. Instead, they traded out of the pick because they were looking at another inside linebacker in Kevin Minter, could get him later and get an extra pick, and it turned out they weren’t as close to seeking Te’o as I might’ve thought. But hey, the Cardinals made up for it by going with the NFL Draft’s other co-winner of the “huge story leading into the draft” player — Tyrann Mathieu.

There is little question Mathieu is a risk. And that’s probably an understatement. But the Cardinals know that. They have Mathieu’s mentor, Patrick Peterson, in the same locker room (and I would bet their lockers will be adjoining when all is said and done). Certainly, Mathieu can help. Bruce Arians talked about the ability for Mathieu to essentially be a secondary swingman, a free safety/nickel corner/cornerback that could stay on the field in all situations. It just feels like an all-or-nothing choice: He’s either going to be a dynamic star, or he’ll wash out because of his personal problems.

— It was fitting, I suppose, on the day LaRod Stephens-Howling officially found a new home with the Steelers, that his famous emotional conference call after he was drafted was surpassed by the tears flowing in Mathieu’s call. I mean, the Hyphen only got choked up for an answer or two. Mathieu was so emotional I wasn’t sure at first we were going to be able to understand him. I can’t blame him.

— The addition of Mathieu, with his skill set, may seal the end of the Josh Cribbs possibility. Arians at the owners meetings even talked about adding Cribbs and how great it would be to put him and Peterson back together on punt returns to mess with the opposition. Friday, Arians talked about Mathieu and Peterson doing it. I asked GM Steve Keim if Cribbs was now off the radar. “That’s something we have already explored,” Keim said. “At this point, I really can’t get any further into it, so I will leave it at that.” Watching Keim say it, it sure didn’t sound like Cribbs was coming.

— Kind of feel bad for Minter. His arrival got overshadowed quickly.

— Oh, we still have another day of the draft? Yes we do. And the Cards still have five players to take. Those first two picks in the fourth round are interesting. Now with two choices, I could see the Cards taking a flyer on one of the quarterbacks. Could they pull the trigger on Matt Barkley? I could see it. That extra pick is gravy; They were going to take Minter in the second anyway. So maybe Barkley or Ryan Nassib or Tyler Bray are in play. People loved matching Barkley and the Cardinals at No. 7 way back at the Scouting combine (which was foolish) but a fourth-round pick — one of two — could be palatable.

— The Cards likely will take a running back at some point. Johnathan Franklin is available. I know people bring up Marcus Lattimore and it is a great and inspirational story. But I know I wouldn’t touch a guy who already has blown out two ACLs, especially  a running back.

— I still expect the Cards to at least think about adding a pass rusher project tomorrow, and a pure speed deep threat receiver.


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Cards go LB, but pass on Te’o chance

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2013 – 4:52 pm

The Cardinals spent their second-round pick on LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter, after trading down seven spots (38 to 45) with San Diego in exchange for the Chargers’ fourth-round pick, 110th overall. The Chargers took Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, and that easily could have been the Cards’ pick if they had chosen to stay put. That definitely would have been interesting. But Minter was a guy the Cards were already eying, and to pick up an extra fourth-rounder and still get the guy they wanted makes a lot of sense. Now, Minter and Te’o will be linked — along with whomever the Cards take with that second fourth-rounder — in the minds of Cards’ fans. We’ll see how it develops.

Minter’s reputation is of a two-down thumper inside guy. He’s not real big — 6-foot — but he can hit, and frankly, in nickel situations, it will be Daryl Washington as the linebacker staying on the field inside and not a guy like Minter or Jasper Brinkley, the guy who is currently penciled in to start now that Paris Lenon is gone. Minter was an first team All-American this season, getting 130 tackles and four sacks for the Tigers.

“(The Cardinals) said I could be a great fit for the team,” Minter said. “They asked me if was ready to come down to Arizona and bust some heads. I said ‘Yeah.’ ”

— A side note: free agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling agreed to a one-year contract with the Steelers Friday. Good for Hyphen. He’ll be missed, but he wasn’t going to return, and now he’s headed back to the city where he played in college.


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Former Cardinal finds way into Te’o mystery

Posted by Darren Urban on January 17, 2013 – 7:49 am

So, unless you’ve been under a rock, you know by now about the crazy story about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the story of his dead girlfriend, which turned out to be a hoax. (And if you haven’t read Deadspin’s excellent report, here you go.) There wasn’t much yesterday that was going to knock Lance Armstrong and Chip Kelly off the national stage, but the Te’o story did it.

Unbelievably, at least from this corner of the sports world, the Cardinals have a tie to the story. Last night, ESPN tracked down former Cardinals fullback Regan Maui’a and Maui’a said he had actually met the girl. The girl that Te’o, Deadspin and Notre Dame all acknowledge didn’t exist. Um, OK.

From ESPN’s story, Maui’a said he thought she existed because he met her in person doing charity work in American Samoa in June, 2011, with, among other people, Steelers safety Troy Polomalu. (ESPN is calling Maui’a “Cardinals fullback” and while Maui’a has been back quite a few times, he isn’t on the roster right now.)

“This was before her and Manti,” Maui’a said. “I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa.”

Wow. You can peel the layers of this onion for a long time.

This isn’t going away anytime soon. Everyone is going to be digging for more and more answers. I am surprised Notre Dame came out talking about it and backing Te’o so forcefully. We’ll see how it unravels.

As for as Te’o’s draft stock — he will be drafted in April — my guess is, no matter what his involvement, it won’t matter much. Will some teams red flag him? Sure. But as always, if he can play, someone will want him, and if he can play well, someone will want him early in the draft. That’s how this works.

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