Thursday, the Cardinals’ rookies arrive in Tempe. That’s the six-man draft class and the undrafted rookies (as well as a bunch of guys in on a tryout basis for the weekend. QB Philip Sims was among a few guys kept on last year after such a tryout.) We will see, as the offseason and training camp goes, who will make an impression. There has been a lot of talk about QB Jake Coker, but it’s much too early to assume he can supplant Matt Barkley as even a third-stringer much less anything else (and don’t forget, after the Logan Thomas-Sims battle all last year, neither one made the team).
There are guys that intrigue. Canadian cornerback Eli Bouka, who is coming off an Achilles injury, has the size (6-foot-1) and tape that has impressed from afar. We’ll see if punter Garrett Swanson can give Drew Butler a run. And it certainly seems like there will be one undrafted on the roster, since the Cardinals’ only current choices for a long snapper are undrafted rookies Kameron Canaday and Daniel Dillon.
Here is a list of the undrafted rookies to make the roster out of training camp since 2007 (many undrafted rookies have made it to the practice squad and were promoted at some point, but these are the guys from the 53 to start the season:
2015 LB Alani Fua, DT Xavier Williams
2014 K Chandler Catanzaro, LB Glenn Carson
2013 WR Jaron Brown, LB Kenny Demens, S Tony Jefferson
2012 WR LaRon Byrd
2010 QB Max Hall, CB A.J. Jefferson, WR Max Komar, WR Stephen Williams
2009 LB Reggie Walker
2008 LB Ali Highsmith
2007 FB Tim Castille, C Lyle Sendlein
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Alani Fua, Ali Highsmith, Chandler Catanzaro, Daniel Dillon, Drew Butler, Eli Bouka, Garrett Swanson, Glenn Carson, Jake Coker, Jaron Brown, Kameron Canaday, Kenny Demens, LaRon Byrd, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Barkley, Max Hall, Max Komar, Reggie Walker, Stephen Williams, Tim Castille, Tony Jefferson, undrafted rookie free agents, Xavier Williams
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Crunching the numbers heading into the draft, the Cardinals currently have 72 players on their roster. With eight draft picks (for now), that leaves room for 10 undrafted rookies to be signed to reach the roster limit of 90 going into offseason work. (Phase 2, which is the first step of on-field stuff during the offseason, begins next week.) This does not include suspended linebacker Daryl Washington; if Washington were to be reinstated by the NFL, the Cardinals would have to find a roster spot for him if they did not release him. I still think it’s hard to believe they would release him after just paying him a $5 million bonus installment he was owed, but we’ll see.
There is a lot of room to maneuver with the roster, however. If they Cardinals trade for more draft picks — or trade away some of them — then the number of undrafted guys could shrink or grow. There is also a possibility the Cardinals could cut players already on the roster to make room for more undrafted rookies if the Cards feel they have a chance to improve the bottom section of the roster. That happened last year when a few guys were cut right after the draft.
The roster churn never ends with GM Steve Keim. He’s proven that. But we’re almost to the point where we will know the vast majority of the Cardinals’ roster for 2015. That’s when the football actually starts.
Tags: Daryl Washington, draft, Roster, Steve Keim, undrafted rookie free agents
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Seven picks, six rounds and a whole lot of hand-wringing over the Cardinals’ picks, but the draft is over. So are three long days, but before I head out to an abbreviated weekend, it’s time to wrap this up.
The Cards went with an eventual starting strong safety, a starting tight end who can block, a pair of future picks for the defensive line, a pair of receivers to fill out the corps and an intriguing (I know some of you have stronger words for it) quarterback prospect. Some of the picks, especially Logan Thomas, feel like a swing for the fence, as in if they work out, they could be very, very good.
But let’s make no mistake, not everyone is going to work out and frankly, that’s how every draft ends up. Steve Keim said he looks for three impact players out of each class. That’s just being realistic.
“What I love about (this class) is I look at all those names and I see guys who are big-time competitors, who love the game and bring an element of toughness to our locker room, which I don’t think you can ever have enough of,” Keim said. “That’s the whole thing. I’ve walked out of this building for many years when we got ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ (as grades), and those players didn’t turn out to be good players. You have to trust what you’re doing and trust your board. I trust the people in our room.
“Again, you have to avoid the noise sometimes and avoid what people are saying. You can’t get caught up in some of the hype. Again, I’ve always trusted what I see on tape and I think we came away with a pretty good class.”
— I don’t know how Thomas will turn out. I know he looked erratic the very limited times I saw him play in college. I’m pretty sure the Cards saw the same. I’m leery about being about change a guy who has long been inaccurate. Is it a risk? Sure. But everyone has a different opinion. I still think that, if you try him at QB for a couple of years and it isn’t working out, you can put him at tight end and still get a good fourth-round choice out of it. Sorry, but I don’t lose any sleep about the draft picks. They are what they are, and I’ll chronicle how their careers play out, good or bad.
— Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade “multiple times” in the draft. “We would’ve moved three or four more times if we would have gotten cooperation in other spots from other teams,” Keim said.
— Finishing the draft in the sixth round meant an early jump on recruiting potential undrafted rookies. The Cards after the draft class have 76 players on the roster, leaving 14 spots (although as long as the draft class is unsigned, they officially don’t count toward the 90-man roster limit.) Keim said he would’ve liked a seventh round pick but it’s a benefit to start on recruiting. “Quite frankly, I think that’s one of the things Bruce and I do best,” Keim said.
— Of those undrafted rookies, Keim said he’d like to add two running backs and three-to-five offensive linemen. I’d guess they will add a couple of defensive backs and receivers too.
— The undrafted names will slowly leak out. I don’t expect an official list until Monday. I may check out Twitter and mention some there (@cardschatter, if you aren’t already following) but otherwise, I’ll catch up to that group later.
Tags: draft, Logan Thomas, Steve Keim, undrafted rookie free agents
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As GM Steve Keim mentioned last week, the Cardinals had already begun to reach out to call players (or their agents) who they think could go undrafted, beginning the weird recruiting process that is the undrafted rookie class. At once, the best of these undrafted guys are wooed by multiple teams like they are trying to pick a college all over again, while at the same time dealing with the disappointment that they were not picked at all.
(That’s not always an easy thing. Safety Tony Jefferson was one of those priority undrafted guys last year and while he ended up in a good place and was wanted, he admitted his undrafted reality actually affected his play for part of last year.)
The Cardinals usually assign a scout to a coach and then the two work together to reach out to the players. Yes, as was pointed out on Twitter today, if a team likes the player that much, they could instead draft him, but that’s a story for another day. Bottom line, only so many guys can be picked, and other potential worthy draftees are going undrafted.
“We’ve been aggressively calling players and planting seeds that if somehow they go undrafted, we feel like this would be a great fit for them,” Keim said.
This early UDFA push isn’t unique to the Cardinals. It came out Tuesday the Seahawks not only are doing their own recruiting but actually put together a brochure to send to agents with their own recruiting pitch. The race when the draft is over to pick up the other players to be included in the draft class is always intriguing. If the Cardinals don’t add any late picks — remember, they right now are scheduled to be done after the 20th pick of the sixth round — they will have plenty of time to work the phones and hoping their targets aren’t picked in the extended seventh round. These guys make a difference and some make the team every year. It’s where you find depth through the Jeffersons and Jaron Browns and Lyle Sendleins.
Tags: draft, Jaron Brown, Seahawks, Steve Keim, Tony Jefferson, undrafted rookie free agents
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I know everyone has been waiting, so here are the Cardinals’ undrafted rookie agreements for 2013:
— WR Jaron Brown, Clemson
— WR Dan Buckner, Arizona
— T Joe Caprioglio, Colorado State
— ILB Kenny Demens, Michigan
— OLB Dan Giordano, Cincinnati
— S Javon Harris, Oklahoma
— CB Josh Hill, California
— S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (pictured below)
— T Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Alabama A&M
— ILB Korey Jones, Wyoming
— WR Javone Lawson, Louisiana-Lafayette
— WR Michael Rios, Marist
— NT Padric Scott, Florida A&M
— WR Tyler Shaw, NW Missouri State
— CB Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee
— CB Ronnie Yell, San Jose State
Tags: Dan Buckner, Dan Giordano, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jaron Brown, Javon Harris, Javone Lawson, Joe Caprioglio, Josh Hill, Kenny Demens, Korey Jones, Michael Rios, Padric Scott, Prentiss Waggner, Ronnie Yell, Tony Jefferson, Tyler Shaw, undrafted rookie free agents
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The Cardinals brought in 16 players for tryouts this past rookie minicamp weekend. They decided to keep around four of them, including running back Javarris James. The other three were kicker/punter Ricky Schmitt, safety Eddie Elder and cornerback Larry Parker.
James, of course, is the cousin of former Cardinals running back Edgerrin James. Javarris played in 10 games for the Colts as a rookie in 2010, scoring six touchdowns, but was out of the league last year. With top running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams on the mend from surgeries, the Cards needed another running back for offseason work. It will be interesting if James can perform well enough to make it to training camp.
Schmitt was actually with the Cards as an undrafted rookie back in 2007 before getting cut in training camp. He has since spent time with five other teams, including a pair of stints with the 49ers. Elder, from Arizona State, and Parker, from San Diego State, are both rookies.
The signings bring the Cards’ roster to a total of 89 now, with one spot left to get to 90. Certainly, the roster is not set in stone, and further player possibilities could mean that any of these players — or others already on the roster — could get released before the Cards even get to camp. For players on the fringe of the roster, this is always a fluid situation.
Tags: Eddie Elder, Javarris James, Larry Parker, Ricky Schmitt, Roster, undrafted rookie free agents
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There was plenty of pre-draft talk about Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict and where he might land (and for those who don’t know, Burfict was the one-time first-round candidate who ended up going undrafted and signing with the Bengals.) But for all of Burfict’s hype, many thought he wasn’t even the best linebacker at ASU. That nod usually went to Colin Parker, who was one of 17 undrafted rookie free agents the Cards came to terms with:
- WR Stanley Arukwe, Troy
- LB Broderick Binns, Iowa
- WR LaRon Byrd, Miami
- G Braeden Clayson, Idaho State
- FB Jared Crank, Purdue
- G Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech
- DE Tevita Finau, Utah
- S Blake Gideon, Texas
- WR Tre Gray, Richmond
- LB Marcus McGraw, Houston
- LB Zach Nash, Sacramento State
- CB James Nixon, California (Pa.)
- DE Conrad Obi, Colorado
- LB Paul Vassallo, Arizona
- C Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois
- WR Marc Wilson, St. Anselm
And, of course, Parker from ASU.
The list is heavy on linebackers, not a shock after the team did not draft one this past weekend. The number brings the roster total to
85 86 (since apparently I can’t add 69 and 17), leaving five four spots still open for additions, whether they are veterans or otherwise. Because of the rookie minicamp in two weeks, the Cards will also be bringing in a handful of other young players for tryouts, making sure they have enough bodies to run the practices and taking a looksee at some guys.
Tags: Blake DeChristopher, Blake Gideon, Braeden Clayson, Broderick Binns, Colin Parker, Conrad Obi, draft, James Nixon, Jared Crank, LaRon Byrd, Marc Wilson, Marcus McGraw, Paul Vassallo, Scott Wedige, Stanley Arukwe, Tevita Finau, Tre Gray, undrafted rookie free agents, Zach Nash
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As mentioned the other day, Cards president and pilot Michael Bidwill gave a ride to former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev from Phoenix to New York Sunday after Gorbachev gave a speech at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Not only did Gorbachev get a ride, but Bidwill gave him a Cardinals shirt — which makes sense, its color being red and all. Picture below.
“I was honored to be able to do it,” Bidwill said. “I told him how grateful my generation of Americans are for all that he did to advance world peace and to improve relations between our countries. It was an incredible experience.”
Meanwhile, the Cards have started to collect undrafted free agents. To see some of the guys coming in as reported around Twitter, just check out my timeline. The Cards won’t announce their list until it is completed, and it won’t be completed until all the guys sign their contracts. Sometimes a player will agree to play for a team and then change at the last second, not yet having signed anything. So teams are reluctant to say anything until they know for sure.
One other thing about names floating out there: The Cards will bring in a few extra rookies for their rookie minicamp May 12, but they will be in on a tryout basis rather than signing official contracts. One report has Miami quarterback Jacory Harris as one of those guys.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, undrafted rookie free agents
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Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Duke Lemmens, a Florida product, may have an uphill battle making the team given his position on the depth chart — “There are a lot of good players and not too many spots,” he said — but it’s safe to say he won’t be forgotten. Well, kind of.
While Duke seems like a pretty unique moniker, Lemmens isn’t being called Duke. Thanks to his look — seen below, No. 39 — he’s being called “Kenny G.”
“Yeah, they call me ‘Kenny G,’ and sometimes the coaches don’t even put the ‘G’ on and just call me Kenny,” Lemmens said. “And they’re surprised when I don’t respond when they ask me to do something, but it’s not my natural name. I’m like, ‘I don’t know what you guys are talking about.’ ”
But, Lemmens admits, “as long as they remember me somehow, I don’t care.”
“I’m just trying to get noticed any way I can,” he said. “The strength coach (John Lott) the first day called me ‘Carrot Top’ and I thought that was going to stick, but it seems like ‘Kenny G’ has been the winner lately. Some guys have been trying to call me ‘Weird Al’ lately.”
At practice last week, defensive coordinator Ray Horton bellowed for “Kenny G” to move somewhere during a walk-through, and did so without the hint of a smile. Lemmens might has well officially change his name, at least as a Cardinal in Flagstaff. He won’t be changing his look, though, as long as he’s in the NFL.
“It’s my last shot before the real world,” Lemmens said. “I don’t know when that will happen and I’ll never be able to grow out my hair again, so ideally I’d like to grow it out for many more years and not care about anything. We’ll see.
“All I can control is my reps and my effort,” Lemmens added. “I pride myself on two things I can control: How hard I go and how tough I am.”
Not exactly words you’d ever expect Kenny G to utter.
Tags: Duke Lemmens, Ray Horton, undrafted rookie free agents
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The draft comes in a matter of days — 5 p.m. Thursday night in Arizona — and every year, hundreds of draft hopefuls wait to get a phone call. This year, because of the current lockout and the uncertainty of when it will be resolved, there might be a little more stress come Saturday in those last couple of rounds.
Everything during the draft will be normal, generally. Players will be picked, players will be interviewed. Assuming a player is still game, a first-rounder will still do some sort of press conference. Once Mr. Irrelevant is selected, however, and the draft ends, all the players drafted fall into the same spot as all the current NFL players, and contact with teams ends until a new labor agreement is reached. That has, of course, included new contracts (which is why free agency hasn’t begun). That means no rookies can sign a contract either. That doesn’t mean much for draftees — I mean, they already know what teams they will play for.
The post-draft stampede for undrafted rookies, however, won’t be happening. At least for now.
Last year, the Cards ended up keeping a bunch of their undrafted signees. Think of all the guys who made the team in one way or another last season who were undrafted: receivers Stephen Williams and Max Komar, cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson and Marshay Green and quarterback Max Hall. All left big enough marks in the offseason work to gain a foothold for training camp. Will such guys get that chance this offseason? They won’t even know what team they are playing for for the time being.
“Once the draft is over, that’s when it becomes very strange,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “Not signing guys, not being able to coach these guys, having them in for OTAs, getting them accustomed to the playbook, that will hurt all these rookies and all these teams counting on these rookies contributing. The undrafted free agents, not even being able to sign those guys until it is over … it hurts the percentages of those players coming in and making an impact.”
Again, we don’t know what the summer will hold, or when things are resolved. If a labor agreement is reached soon enough, things might not end up that different, other than adjusting what month things happen. In the meantime, this year’s Stephen Williams, whomever it may be, will have to wait and see. That can’t be easy.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, draft, Marshay Green, Max Hall, Max Komar, Stephen Williams, undrafted rookie free agents
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