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Cardinals Add More Pieces

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 General manager Rod Graves (left) and coach Ken Whisenhunt address the media following the end of Sunday's NFL draft.

The learning curve will be there, especially for some of the picks the Cards took during the 2009 draft – guys like defensive ends-turning-linebacker Cody Brown and Will Davis, or small-school cornerback Greg Toler, or offensive lineman Herman Johnson, who will likely move from guard to tackle.

The Cards could probably afford to wait for development. But patience only goes so far.

"We are in the third year of our system and a lot of our veteran players understand what we are trying to get done, and that helps with the young players," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We have a lot of outstanding characters

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and leaders on our football team already and that will help these young guys get better.

"We're not so much concerned about the time it will take because they should transition to their positions more readily with that veteran crew. And competition is competition. We expect the guys we drafted to come in and compete and earn their way on to the roster."

There was no real theme to the second day of the draft, general manager Rod Graves said, other than the Cards basically sticking to taking the highest players on the draft board whenever the Cards' pick came up.

With the six final picks, that gave the Cards three defensive players – Davis, Toler and safety Rashad Johnson – and three offensive players – Johnson, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and guard Trevor Canfield.

"We didn't reach for anybody," Whisenhunt said.

They join first-day picks Beanie Wells at running back and Brown at linebacker, splitting offense and defense halfway. Graves said the Cards plan to sign around eight to 10 undrafted rookies.

Of the second-day choices, it is perhaps Johnson that holds the most intrigue, because of where he was drafted. The fifth round has been a gold mine since Whisenhunt arrived, with the Cards getting wide receiver Steve Breaston two years ago and running back Tim Hightower last year.

"Our fifth rounds have been a little unique and we continued that trend with Big Baby, who is a humongous man," Whisenhunt said with a grin.

"Hopefully he'll keep up the tradition of our fifth-round picks."

Stephens-Howling will have a chance to make the team as a kickoff return man. Canfield could possibly play at center at some point, but he will strictly be a guard at first as the Cards try and keep the rookies to one spot. That's why minicamp will be used to see if Johnson is a guard or tackle, although Johnson's huge frame would seem to fit better outside than inside.

Toler is the other very interesting choice, and like defensive backs coach Teryl Austin said earlier Sunday, Whisenhunt said a team can never have too many cornerbacks.

Whisenhunt said the Cardinals considered taking a tight end, but other than a couple of tight ends that were taken early, the ones left were not a great fit for the Cards' system and were passed over.

"After a little bit of a bitter taste the last time we were together after the Super Bowl, it will be good to get back on the field together," Whisenhunt said.

The rookies will then get their first chance to find some playing time. And at least one of them wants to work on Whisenhunt's bitter taste.

"I know it's hot," Canfield said of what he knows about Arizona. "And I know they went to the Super Bowl and that we are going back."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 4/26/09.

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