Potential NFL draftees stand on the roof of New York's Radio City Music Hall before Thursday's NFL draft is held inside.
Stretching the NFL draft over three days didn't change how the Cardinals prepared.
It could change how their draft evolves.
The draft begins Thursday (4:30 p.m. Arizona time) but only for the first round. Rounds two and three take place Friday (starting at 3 p.m. Arizona time). The remainder of the picks will be made starting Saturday morning.
But considering the perceived depth of this draft and the new bridge of some 18 hours between the end of the first round and the start of the second, wheeling and dealing may come to the forefront.
"You only had a short time before the second round started," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Now you have essentially a whole day. There is a lot more strategy, potentially. There will be more time for teams to reassess their boards."
Cleaning up draft boards after 32 picks makes for an interesting dynamic, but most of what faces the Cardinals isn't going to change. Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves have made it clear defense will drive this draft, even if an offensive player or two gets selected along the way. Just as running back and pass rusher were the nagging needs going into the 2009 draft – and the Cards took running back Beanie Wells and linebacker Cody Brown in the first two rounds – the positions this season seem to be inside linebacker and nose tackle.
It's harder to get a sense of who might be available at No. 26. The search would be a lot easier 10 or 15 spots earlier, when the Cards could get their hands on Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain or Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams.
Instead, the search must be expanded. The depth at linebacker later in the first round makes more sense – think TCU's Daryl Washington or Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon – than nose tackle. Later in the second round, interior defenders like Terrence Cody of Alabama or Linval Joseph of East Carolina may be available.
The Cards can't ignore a great talent at another position sitting at 26th if he comes along, but "there is a line you walk between both of them, where you draft the best available player for your need," Whisenhunt said.
There are other needs, of course. The Cardinals could use a wide receiver with the departures of Anquan Boldin and Jerheme Urban. They need another quarterback (although if the right one isn't there in a shallower draft pool, the Cards could take an undrafted rookie). They are always on the lookout for offensive linemen and cornerbacks.
Trading up or down is a possibility, general manager Rod Graves said, but that's a usual tact this time of year. The Cardinals have generally stayed put. The last time they moved up was in 2007, dealing a fourth-round pick to get defensive tackle Alan Branch, a pick that has not worked out as well as they had hoped.
Armed with an extra third-round pick (thanks to the Boldin trade with Baltimore), the Cards have the ability to move up, but it seems unlikely unless guys like McClain or Williams slide significantly.
Trading back is a different story, especially picking so close to the end of the first round. Either way, the Cards – and every other team – will have significant time to think about how the first round went down.
"It's just a different format in terms of execution," Graves said. "We are actually looking forward to it."
Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information
Patrick Peterson Making Return To Arizona Against Cardinals
Vikings cornerback insisting he wants this to be like any other game
Whether Attention On J.J. Watt Or Chandler Jones, Cardinals Benefit
Notes: Joseph explains limited snaps for Zaven Collins
Players In The Spotlight: Minnesota Week
Kirk, Collins, Hopkins, Watt and Wilson are key for the Cardinals
Whether Sack Record Or Contract, Chandler Jones Leaves Talk To Others
After five-sack game, linebacker keeps focus on football not future
Kyler Murray More Comfortable Changing Plays At The Line
Notes: Running game has solid start with Edmonds-Conner tandem
No Surprise: Chandler Jones Named NFC Defensive Player Of Week
Five sacks in Nashville makes for an easy choice
Week 1 Rewind: Pitch Perfect In The Music City
A look back at impressive road victory over Titans to open 2021 regular season
No Touchdown, But Corey Peters Scores Big By Returning To Field
Veteran defensive lineman has emotional first game
You've Got Mail: Vikings Week
Topics include Alford's play, Chandler Jones' contract, and opener optimism
Dominating Victory Doesn't Mean More Than Just One Win For Cardinals
After struggles down stretch in 2020, team isn't getting ahead in its thoughts
For Starters, Cardinals Look Excellent Against Titans
Chandler Jones, Kyler Murray spectacular in 38-13 victory