Bounty Of Late-Round Picks “Really Valuable” For Cardinals

T Korey Cunningham, a seventh-round pick last season, showed promise as a rookie
T Korey Cunningham, a seventh-round pick last season, showed promise as a rookie

Players like Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa will dominate much of the conversation at the NFL Scouting combine this week, as the top of the draft always garners the most interest.

The Cardinals certainly know the importance of the No. 1 overall choice, but General Manager Steve Keim also has plenty of scouting to do beyond that. The Cardinals currently hold 11 draft picks, including three apiece in the sixth and seventh rounds.

Four of those are by way of the compensatory formula due to free agent defections a year ago. Keim said the Cardinals received two more draft picks than he expected, and is excited about all of those bites at the apple.

“The comp picks are really valuable, and the fact now that you can trade those even adds to the value,” Keim said. “Any time you’re picking late in the draft – it can be the sixth round, it can be the seventh round – to have a number of those picks, those guys have panned out.”

Keim brought up the most pertinent recent example of a late-round pick who has vastly exceeded expectations: Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, a former seventh-round pick.

“Let’s look at this past year’s NFL Super Bowl,” Keim said. “Who was the Most Valuable Player and what round did he get drafted in? So you can still hit home runs in those late rounds and in free agency.”

It’s certainly less likely for a late-rounder to have as much success as a first-round pick, but it’s not uncommon. And with as many picks as the Cardinals have, the odds of finding a steal has increased.

“It’ll be exciting in that part of the draft, to pick some key components and try to find some diamonds in the rough,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

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