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Draft Synergy For Steve Wilks And Steve Keim

Cardinals decision-makers on same page during first few months together


Cardinals GM Steve Keim (left) and coach Steve Wilks during their pre-draft press conference on Wednesday.

Steve Keim paused for a moment, cycling several months' worth of conversations back through his mind.

The Cardinals' general manager had an uncannily close relationship with former coach Bruce Arians, and the moves they made always seemed to be in lockstep. Earlier this week, he was asked about the pairing with new coach Steve Wilks, and whether there had been dissension as the team's draft board was being created.

"I can't think of any," Keim said, which echoed an earlier statement about the integration of a new coaching staff with the old guard on the personnel side. "The two groups have blended together quite nicely."

It is impossible for every ranking in a war room to be unanimous, but as Wilks prepares for his first draft, he and Keim say a nice synergy has formed. It began in the interview process, when the compatibility of their ideas made Keim and team president Michael Bidwill confident in handing the coaching reins over to Wilks.

There is no event quite like the draft, in which quick decisions can either rocket an organization forward or set it back. The Cardinals may be presented with proposals to trade up or back during the three-day event, which begins on Thursday, and must quickly determine whether the deal is fair. When they are on the clock, the decision-makers will pull the trigger on players that they hope to one day become pivotal pieces.

"We trust one another," Wilks said. "Our vision is in line with one another. We sort of see things the same way and how we want to shape and build this roster."

Keim and Arians spoke often about staying in their own lanes. Keim believes it is a prerequisite for success among the power structure in the organization, as each decision-maker has a specific avenue of expertise.

"You have to have respect for each other," Keim said. "You have to understand what the process involves, and you have to draw the line, like we talked about before. You can't blur those lines that cross over into dysfunction. Coach has got a job to do. I've got a job to do. At the end of the day, we're working towards one same, solid goal."

It's unknown what kind of personality the offense and defense will have in 2018 and beyond, and while Keim said there may be some minor tweaks to his evaluation style, the goal is to still find the most valuable players.

The Cardinals' prospect conversations involve Keim and his scouts along with Wilks and his coordinators, so there should be no confusion on preferences. Wilks has a philosophy he hopes to implement.

"One thing that I've learned coming here in a short period of time is we've got great men in that locker room – good character guys," Wilks said. "(They're) good football players on the field, but also guys that are going to represent this team well in the community. That's what we're looking for in the draft, to continue to bring in guys that have our certain DNA."

Wilks is very business-like in his approach, and he admitted the extravaganza surrounding the draft isn't exactly his style. But he does appreciate the platform it gives the players who have worked hard to get to this point.

Wilks is looking forward to turning all this research into tangible selections – the point when proof begins to override conjecture.

"The most important thing for us, we just want to make sure we get the right guy, get him in the building and get ready to go to work," Wilks said.




Images of some of the top cornerback prospects heading into the NFL draft

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