The Cardinals took Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells with their first-round pick Saturday. (AP photo)
The day started with questions over whether the Cardinals would trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin, but Boldin wasn't going anywhere.
Teams apparently weren't all that interested in trading for Boldin, so the Cardinals stuck to the script: Waiting until the 31st overall pick of the first round to get a running back named "Beanie."
"On his (pre-draft) visit here, the last thing I said to him was, 'When we draft you, do you want us to call you Chris or Beanie,' " Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He said, 'Beanie.' So we're happy to announce we drafted running back
Wells, a 6-foot-1, 235-pounder from Ohio State, will compete with incumbent Tim Hightower for the starting job, and play in the running back rotation with new third-down back Jason Wright. Veteran Edgerrin James remains on the roster. He will likely be released soon – probably before the team's mandatory minicamp next weekend – although general manager Rod Graves said decisions like that won't be made until the team evaluates the entire roster after the draft is over.
There was intrigue. Players the Cardinals liked, such as linebacker Larry English (16th to San Diego) and running back Donald Brown (27th to Indianapolis) each were plucked before the Cards had a chance to select.
But Wells slipped. With much less risk at the bottom of the first round, it seemed like the perfect marriage between player and team.
"Words can't explain how I am feeling," Wells said on a conference call, stumbling over some of his sentences. "I can't even get the words out right now."
Graves said the Cardinals "thought very highly" of all three running backs that went in the first round, including Knowshon Moreno, taken 12th by Denver.
The Cardinals ranked last in the NFL in rushing, and Whisenhunt said he was confident Wells will improve that ranking.
"Hopefully," Wells said, "we can change that around."
Wells did battle a foot injury last season while playing for the Buckeyes, missing three games. He was limited in some others because of the foot as well as hamstring and head issues. But Graves said Wells was examined thoroughly both at the scouting combine and during Wells' visit to Tempe and the foot "did not present itself as a major concern."
Whisenhunt said the fact Wells played through some injuries "to me is a sign of toughness."
Wells rushed for 1,197 yards and a 5.8 per carry average as a junior this past season for the Buckeyes. As a sophomore, Wells rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns when he was healthy. Whisenhunt said he thought Wells is a good between-the-tackles runner who should also give the Cardinals "an element of a breakaway threat."
As for the Boldin conversations, Whisenhunt said the calls the Cards did get were mostly "feelers" and Graves said the talk had been light.
"We have not received what I consider serious interest," Graves said, adding that the team still wants to work out an extension with Boldin, although it is "not possible" to give a definite timetable on a new contract.
"It's surprising there isn't more interest but we want Anquan on this football team," Whisenhunt said. "We are excited Anquan will be with us."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 4/25/09. Updated 4/25/09.