Images of Missouri OLB Markus Golden, the Cardinals' second-round draft pick
When Cardinals' first-round pick D.J. Humphries first arrived in Tempe Friday morning, his first stop was to the office of General Manager Steve Keim, where the two engaged in brief small talk.
At one point, Keim asked Humphries what he knew about a Missouri pass rusher, "Number 33."
Clearly, Markus Golden was someone Keim already was thinking about. So a little more than nine hours later, it made sense the Cardinals – after trading down a few spots with the Baltimore Ravens to pick up an extra fifth-round choice – took the outside linebacker with the second-round selection.
"When you start studying (fellow Missouri pass rusher) Shane Ray, and you keep watching (and think), 'Who the hell is
33?' " coach Bruce Arians said. "I just love the way he plays."
Keim compared Golden to new Cardinals linebacker LaMarr Woodley when he came out of Michigan to play for the Steelers. Arians said he is reminded of former Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison in build and in his football emotion.
Golden has his criticisms, like a slow 40 time at the Scouting combine or short arms. Many predictions had him as a third- or fourth-round selection. But he was productive at Missouri (10 sacks, 20 tackles for loss), he's considered a good leader and relentless player, and if the Cards have shown anything it's the nod toward players exhibiting such passion.
"I'd just say they saw me on film," said Golden, 6-2 and 260 pounds. "They didn't worry about all the measurables, short arms and all that because they know I'm a football player. They know I can get after it. They know I will come in and go hard every day, in the game, in practice, in everything I do."
Pass rush was a need, especially after attempts at moving up Thursday to snare Bud Dupree (drafted two slots in front of the Cardinals, by the Steelers) didn't work out. Virginia's Eli Harold was still on the board both when the Cards made their trade and when they took Golden, and was a player many connected to the Cards. (Troubled but talented pass rusher Randy Gregory was also still there; he was later taken in the second round by the Cowboys.)
But the pick was Golden.
"This guy is exactly what I talked about, in the fall you fall in love with guys and in the spring, we confuse ourselves because they aren't 6-5 and run 4.5," Keim said. "At the end of the day this guy was extremely productive in the SEC.
"It's no different for me than when we drafted Anquan Boldin. We all had high-round grades on him and then he ran 4.72 at the combine and we were all scared. At some point you have to just take good football players."
Profootballfocus.com had predicted Golden as a second-round sleeper, noting that he was the type of player who produces more than he might look to on paper. In their analysis of the pick, the website wrote, "Great fit for Golden and great get for Arizona. They've been desperate for some young and talented edge rush, and Golden finally provides it to them."
Golden was playing defensive end at Missouri but will move to linebacker in the team's 3-4 alignment and said he was happy with the move and the ability to get away from getting into a three-point stance. He had met with the Cardinals at Missouri's pro day and always felt Arizona was a possiblilty.
"I knew they liked the way I rush the passer," Golden said. "I know their defense is changing around and they want some pass rushers."