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Steve Keim, Steve Wilks Embark On First Combine

Posted Feb 27, 2018

GM and new coach work to align desires as free agency, draft approach

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim speaks at last year's Scouting combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – For five years, the methodology was already in place for the Cardinals when they attended the annual Scouting combine.

General Manager Steve Keim went into the early stages of the draft process knowing what Bruce Arians and his coaching staff were looking for, and how that fit into the prism within which the team would view players. Now that Steve Wilks has arrived as head coach, the combine becomes one of the first spots where the new prism is used.

“There is an organizational philosophy that has been put in place that we will continue to stick with – again, drafting the best player available and the type of player from a character standpoint that we want in our locker room,” Keim said. “The things we have incorporated the coaching staff into are the questions about the scheme side: Are we going to have three inside linebackers or are we going to have two? Are we going to have a different style of defensive end? As we look at players on the college level, what traits are they going to need to have to play at the different spots?

“There are some differences from the staff we had previously, but at the same time, the way we communicate with our coaches, the relationship I had with Bruce is no different than the relationship I envision with coach Wilks.”

Since Wilks was hired, the first step was to fill out his coaching staff. Then there were meetings – first with the college scouts, then the pro personnel side with free agency approaching – to discuss just what direction the Cardinals will go over the next two months.

That left Wilks confident heading into his first combine as a head coach.

“We are all aligned on the same page,” Wilks said.

Both Wilks and Keim are scheduled to address the media Wednesday morning – 7:45 a.m. Arizona time for Wilks, 9:30 a.m. for Keim – in what will be the front end of a busy week of work. The workouts on the field start Friday, in addition to the nightly rounds of interviews with potential draftees.

With free agency nearing quickly – the “tampering” period starts March 12 and free agency begins March 14 – Keim acknowledged he’s trying to juggle both aspects of roster building, especially after spending so much time trying to find a new head coach in January.

“Fortunately I have time to catch up, but there’ no doubt I’m trying to multi-task, trying to watch free agents while trying to watch college guys at the same time,” Keim said. “The combine comes before free agency, so it can get confusing and they can get intertwined.”

Wilks said he doesn’t expect this combine to be a lot different for him as a head coach, since he did sit in on defensive interviews when he was the coordinator with the Panthers. He emphasized he doesn’t like getting caught up on particular numbers of a player, but the personality.

“You know what you see on tape,” Wilks said. “Let’s check out the mind and the heart.

“I’m real big on personal workouts, not really the pro days. Pro days are the circus.”

Ultimately, the week in Indianapolis will be a continuation of what Wilks and Keim have already started in preparation for their first roster together.

“That’s where a lot of the time and focus will be, communicating with Steve,” Wilks said. “Up there in a box, we’ll be talking about something, whether it’s the free-agent process or the players on the field.”

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