If there was any question of the philosophy of the Cardinals and what they are looking for with their first-round draft pick next week, General Manager Steve Keim cleared it up with an anecdote from the team’s recent draft meetings.
A member of the coaching staff pointed out a player he felt the Cardinals could potentially take with their top pick – but mentioned the player might not be ready to play right away.
Keim leaned over to Head Coach Bruce Arians and said, “Do you want to tell him or should I?”
“If we draft this guy at 7, if he expects me to keep my job, he’s going to play,” Keim added with a smile during Thursday’s pre-draft press conference. Arians, sitting next to Keim, smiled as well. “Mine too.”
The Cardinals will have gone through 3,100 reports generated by the scouting staff and another 287 made by the coaching staff by
There is a value in having detailed discussion on every player, but cutting it off is important as well, Keim said.
“Setting your board is like evaluating a player,” Keim said. “There is a certain point you can overthink it.”
The direction the Cardinals will go, especially with their pick at seventh overall, will remain a closely guarded secret. Arians noted that any good draft board will have between three and five players clumped together for any one pick, giving a team wiggle room to take a guy when it is on the clock.
Need will play into the choice faced with multiple options, but forcing a pick – say, for example, the top three offensive tackles are all off the board by the time the Cardinals choose at No. 7 – is a dangerous way to operate, Arians said.
Hints weren’t coming Thursday, though. Keim was asked how many offensive linemen the Cardinals had rated as first-round picks.
“Well, I could tell you, but it probably wouldn’t be the truth,” Keim said, eliciting laughs. “So I’d prefer not to answer that one.”
The question was followed up: Double digits? Keim said no, “but it’s close.”
Of course, “that could be a lie too,” Keim added.
There is depth at positions of need for the Cardinals – pass rushers, offensive linemen, defensive backs – so that is helpful, Keim said.
Such are the sounds of the week before the draft, when no one is going to say much in terms of draft plans. Arians said he didn’t take seriously any of the information out there on a daily basis, although he did read it for entertainment purposes.
“It’s fun to watch the prognosticators change their mock drafts every two hours,” Arians said.
One thing that was clear was the importance of the draft. That never changes, but Keim acknowledged he’d like to get into a position – like the Packers or Steelers – where free agency use isn’t heavy and the team leans on the draft.
That certainly wasn’t this year when the Cards signed double-digit free agents and released a host of veterans, but that will change.
“This was a unique year for us,” Keim said. “I think we will see a cycle where maybe a player here or there in free agency and continuing to build this team through the draft.”