Sixth-round pick Harlan Miller had a pair of interceptions on the first day of rookie minicamp.
Bruce Arians makes no secret of his love for speed.
When the final two days of the NFL draft arrived last weekend, the Cardinals coach had no interest in wideout prospects because they all ran too slow.
So it was a mild surprise that the Cardinals chose Harlan Miller in the sixth-round on Saturday after the Southeastern Louisiana cornerback ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting combine. But Miller shined with a pair of interceptions on the first day of rookie minicamp Friday, and Arians explained that the focus on his 40 time was overblown.
"If you look at his numbers, he ran faster than Richard Sherman and Josh Norman – long, tall guys that play pretty good in this league," Arians said. "So his numbers kind of equated to theirs. Everybody is looking for a 4.3, 4.4, but he plays so fast. In his defense, he's coming from somewhere he didn't train for the 40-yard dash. But he plays really fast. At the Senior Bowl nobody ran past him."
At 6-feet and 182 pounds, Miller has a similar frame to Norman, but will obviously need to prove he belongs in the NFL, let alone in the defensive rotation. His fast start was encouraging, and Arians said Miller has "all the tools in the world."
Miller was understated when asked about the two interceptions, calling them "nice." He said he had some ups and downs on his first day and is trying to digest all of the information as he makes the transition from small-school football.
"It can kind of be overload, but you can't let it discourage you," Miller said. "You've got to keep reading, keep going over it and make sure you're making mental notes, watching film. After that, everything else will take care of itself."
Arians, never shy about critiquing players when the need arises, was quite complimentary.
"He's a very sharp kid," Arians said. "He picked it up really fast."
COKER HOPES TO FOLLOW IN SIMS' FOOTSTEPS
Former Alabama quarterback Jake Coker had his first workout with the Cardinals after signing as a rookie free agent. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to a national championship but wasn't picked in the draft.
"It is what it is," Coker said. "It's over now. I'm here, I'm excited to be here, and I'm going to make the most of it."
He will try to beat out Matt Barkley for the third quarterback spot on the roster behind Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. While the odds might not be favorable, Arians said the chance is real, pointing to Phillip Sims as an example.
Sims was a rookie tryout player last year before getting signed, and then almost beat out Logan Thomas and Chandler Harnish for a roster spot. The Cardinals ended up trading for Barkley instead.
"(Sims) got right down to the last three guys," Arians said. "(Coker) is in a great spot. He's got to battle one guy."
POSSIBLE LEACH REPLACEMENTS BEGIN COMPETITION
The Cardinals signed a pair of undrafted rookie free agents to battle for the open long snapper position following veteran Mike Leach's retirement this offseason.
Campbell's Daniel Dillon and Portland State's Kameron Canaday had a nice start, per Arians, but their biggest tests will come down the road.
"They were extremely accurate," Arians said. "(Special teams coach) Amos (Jones) has had the pulse of these guys for a while. They were the two guys we targeted and they're just going to fight it out. Today, I don't think there was a missed snap. Once you put the pads on and get under the lights – because they're both from smaller schools – and all of a sudden there's 80,000 (fans) out there, we've got to see that."
DRAFT PICKS INK DEALS
First-round pick Robert Nkemdiche and fifth-rounders Cole Toner and Marqui Christian signed four-year contracts.