Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim (left) and coach Bruce Arians smile during Wednesday's pre-draft press conference.
Out of the hundreds of potential draftees, the Cardinals have built their draft board already, set to be used a week from Thursday.
Normally 120 players, the Cards have 130 players for this year, which General Manager Steve Keim said will carry them through all eight of their picks (and even if they trade for more) and through the final selection of the NFL draft, which the Cards own. That includes a leftover eight to 15 players, Keim said, that immediately become the team's priority undrafted free agent targets.
"Everybody's board looks a little different in the NFL," Keim said.
There wasn't much concrete information coming out of Wednesday's press conference with Keim and coach Bruce Arians, but that's not a surprise in a time of year when even the outgoing Arians and Keim are careful with what they say – even if it doesn't stop them from throwing out a memorable quip or two.
Arians was talking about the respect factor the coaches, scouts and personnel department have for one another when he spoke about the pre-draft debates they have with about how some players should be graded: "We do have a lot of arguments on players, but it's like going to Miss America," Arians said. "Is there an ugly girl there? How do you pick the prettiest one? That's kind of like the draft."
Keim had a one-liner of his own, when asked about how character and college behavior have grown in importance when considering potential players: "Absolutely, but it's always going to be enticing for (teams), regardless of their issues, if they have tremendous skills. I've said this before, if Hannibal Lecter ran a 4.3 (40-yard dash), we'd probably diagnose it as an eating disorder."
The latter is a key point. Talent is always a draw. But Keim said on the Cards' 130 board some possibilities did not make it on because of either character or medical concerns. Others were lowered because of such issues. It is part of the equation.
Keim cited safety Tyrann Mathieu as a player worth the risk of his off-field issues, in large part of his love for the game. Trying to figure out – to a team's best ability – what kind of person a player might be is the key to the draft, Keim believes.
"You realize through years of experience that guys either don't make it because they have off-field issues, they have injuries, they can't learn (the game) or they don't love it enough," Keim said. "Those are really to me the four principles of why guys don't make it."
Of the brief news nuggets of the day:
-- Arians called the quarterback class after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota "average at best."
"Do I think there's anyone else that we would take to press Logan (Thomas as third-stringer)?" Arians said. "I don't think we would in this draft. That's not saying we won't, but I like where he's at."
-- Keim not surprisingly said the Cards were much more likely to trade down and not up, especially in the first round. That's what the team did last year, dropping in the first round, taking safety Deone Bucannon and using the extra pick in the third round to draft wide receiver John Brown.
"It's a fluid process," Keim said. "As long as you have a 130 good players you are comfortable with, stay true to your board and don't panic. I'm not ruling out that we wouldn't trade up, but as you've seen in the past, any time you can acquire more picks, I think it gives you a better chance of hitting on players."