Before the draft, Steve Keim spoke about how the way the Cardinals approached the draft as an organization had changed since he first was hired as a scout in 1999.
“It’s changed for the better,” Keim said. “In any line of work, I think you try to continue to grow, learn from your mistakes.”
The department grew and changed a little bit more Wednesday, when Keim was promoted to vice president of player personnel. Keim’s spot of director of player personnel will be filled by Jason Licht, who has been director of pro personnel with the New England Patriots the past three seasons after spending 2008 in the Cardinals’ personnel department.
“The personnel staff and player evaluation process are critical to assembling a championship-caliber football team,” general manager Rod Graves said. “I’m proud of the work our scouts, coaches and personnel staff have done up to this point and I’m excited about these two moves today.
“Steve and Jason are exceptional NFL personnel men with proven track records and their expertise makes us a better organization.”
Keim was promoted from scout to director of college scouting in 2006, and promoted again to director of player personnel in 2008. He was interviewed by the St. Louis Rams for their vacant general manager position earlier this offseason. Under the direction of Graves, Keim orchestrates not only the pro and college scouting departments but also draft preparation.
“I’m more excited about Jason coming back,” Keim said.
Licht (pronounced "Light") started his career in the NFL as a personnel assistant and then coach in Miami in 1995. Over the years he worked for National Football Scouting service before beginning his first stint with the Patriots in 1999. He became the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel in 2003, working there until coming to the Cardinals for the 2008 season.
After the team’s Super Bowl appearance, Licht returned to New England before taking his new job with the Cards. Licht was a finalist for the vacant Bears general manager job earlier this offseason. As Licht arrives, T.J. McCreight leaves his director of pro personnel job for a position with the Indianapolis Colts.
“It helped having the relationship with (Jason) and when T.J. decided to leave, it just made sense to reach out to Jason,” Keim said. “The stars lined up and it worked out.
“Having the ability to have worked with him before, to know his strengths, it’s huge in terms of the overall organizational picture.”
Keim said there may be “tweaks” to how the front office operates but for the most part, it will remain unchanged.
“At the end of the day, the Cardinals and the Bidwills have afforded me the opportunity to come in everyday and so something I love,” Keim said. “It says something about the organization and the faith Michael (Bidwill), Rod and Coach (Ken Whisenhunt) have in me. It’s an honor to work here.”