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As Draft Approaches, Receiver Possible For Cardinals With Or Without Fitz

Keim says trade down more likely than up for team without picks in 3rd, 4th rounds

GM Steve Keim addresses the media Thursday during a pre-draft press conference along with Kliff Kingsbury.
GM Steve Keim addresses the media Thursday during a pre-draft press conference along with Kliff Kingsbury.

Wide receiver has evolved into the flashpoint position for the Cardinals in the draft, with a week left in all the speculation that comes with this time of year.

Might the Cards trade up to get one, as has been rumored and/or predicted by some national pundits? (Unlikely.) Could the Cardinals take one at No. 16, even though they seem to have more pressing needs, particularly at cornerback? (Perhaps.) Does Larry Fitzgerald's decision about playing or retiring – which remains an unknown – impact the pick? (Nope.)

"No matter what Larry decides it does not affect our draft plans," GM Steve Keim said Thursday, as he and coach Kliff Kingsbury had their annual pre-draft press conference. "To me you can't have enough good players at one position."

There seems to be a general consensus that LSU's Ja'Marr Chase will be the first wide receiver selected (Keim's Chase comp is Andre Johnson.) Most mocks have both Jaylen Waddle (Keim comp: Steve Smith) and DeVonta Smith (Keim comp: Marvin Harrison – and no, Smith's weight isn't an issue for the Cardinals) gone by the time the Cards select at 16.

Sure, trading up could happen, although it would seem to take some significant draft capital the Cards don't really have to move up many spots.

"Where we're sitting I think it would be more likely to trade back than to trade up," Keim said. "As far as trading back and accumulating more picks, (the draft) is no different than a lottery ticket. The more you have, the better chance you have to hit."

The Cardinals have six draft picks – one each in the first, second, fifth and sixth rounds, and two in the seventh – and will have some serious time to wait after round two without any trades.

Keim joked again, when the absence in the third and fourth rounds was broached, that the team got center Rodney Hudson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with those selections so "I don't know if any of you have graded those picks, but I feel very good about those spots." The missing picks were used in each of the trades for those veterans.

But Keim admitted he'd love to end up with picks in those rounds – which again, could happen with a trade down.

The deepest parts of the draft, Keim said, are with some of the interior offensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers/pass rushers, receiver and cornerback -- not terrible when all those could be considered places the Cardinals would like to upgrade.

If one of the top receivers doesn't drop to 16, maybe the Cardinals go there in round two. There is certainly an argument to make that a big-time playmaker could help the offense, even with A.J. Green signing and Christian Kirk potentially moving to the slot where he could be more effective.

"We felt like we made some key additions in key spots (on offense)," Kingsbury said. "Kyler (Murray)'s mastery of the offense, the guys I've coached before in college, year three is the year where they take total control of it. We hope we can take another big step offensively."

That could be with an early receiver pick. It could be by standing pat at receiver. At this point, it even could still include Fitzgerald, although in terms of a final decision, Kingsbury said "nothing has changed on that front."

"My communication with Larry has literally consisted of golf, investments or Phoenix Suns basketball," Kingsbury said. "Larry is going to decide this on his time."

So in that vein, Fitz remains in the mix as receiver that could be added, draft or no draft.

"Larry Fitzgerald is a great one," Keim said. "You wouldn't say no to him either."

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray holds up a jersey on stage after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 1st pick of the first round during the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Perry Knotts via AP)

2021 NFL Draft Notes