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No Quarterback Temptation

Posted Apr 29, 2011

Draft Notes: Cards pass on signal-callers; Tight end to stretch the field

Tight end Rob Housler was the Cards' third-round pick from Florida Atlantic.


After the way the quarterback play went for the Cardinals in 2010, many expected the team to jump on one in the draft.

Through three rounds, they have not. While coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t rule out taking one Saturday in the final four rounds of the draft, it was clear that the team was not all that high on any of the “big” names that were available at first.

Asked if the Cards were tempted by any of the quarterbacks available Friday, general manager Rod Graves said “not in light of the grades we had on these particular players.”

“With respect to the quarterback question, which continually arises, we’ve decided as an organization that we are going to be aggressive,” Graves said. “We are expecting at some point, or believing, that we will have a free agency period, an opportunity to discuss trades, and we are looking at those avenues.

“We did not want our needs to overshadow the opportunity to take outstanding players, or what we hope to be outstanding players.”

No trades or free agency can happen yet, of course, because of the ongoing labor situation. Whisenhunt also wouldn’t say he was comfortable with John Skelton as starter or backup.

“After you go 5-11, I’m not comfortable with anybody we had playing that position,” Whisenhunt said. “You have to weigh your opportunities in the draft against other opportunities. It’s a complete process. It’s not an isolated process.

“You have to trust, if you don’t think the grades or what that player brings to the table compares what another player brings to the table, then you have to pursue the other avenues.”

Given all the quarterback-needy teams that have taken quarterbacks in the draft, however, the Cards would seem to be in the best position to get the pick of the veteran free agent/trade QB crop, although Whisenhunt wouldn’t go that far.

FINDING A TIGHT END

With Ben Patrick’s contract coming to an end and Stephen Spach and Jim Dray mostly used for blocking, the Cards used a third-round pick on Florida Atlantic tight end Rob Housler, a speedy 6-foot-5, 250-pound H-back-type.

Whisenhunt plans to use Housler as a stretch-the-field receiver (he ran a 4.4 40 at the Scouting combine). Housler acknowledged he needs to get better at blocking.

“It can’t be a Day One thing,” Housler said. “It has to be something I have a mindset (for) and am starting to work on before I come in (to camp).”

Housler actually redshirted in 2009 despite being healthy. Three tight ends – all of whom could have started – would have been seniors. Housler was the one guy with a redshirt to burn. So he used it.

“It was a difficult decision,” Housler said, “but I didn’t want to look back and wish I had taken it.”

PASSING ON A PASS RUSHER

The assumption was the Cardinals were going to pick a pass rusher with the second-round pick, with players like Akeem Ayers and Brooks Reed on the board. Then came the surprising selection of running back Ryan Williams.

But like the Cards’ thoughts about quarterbacks, the grades on the other players available when Williams was there simply didn’t match Williams’ grade (Whisenhunt said Williams was the Cards’ 15th-ranked player).

“You have to evaluate what is there and when we do the (top) 120 board, we take those things into consideration: What we are looking for, what our needs are and what is the best fit for us,” Whisenhunt said. “When you talk about him versus a pass rusher or other perceived needs, what are you talking about? Are you talking about getting a very good football player that a lot of people had ranked high as opposed to someone who is not as good of a football player?”
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