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Searching For Pass Rushers

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Sixth-round pick Will Davis will play linebacker for the Cards. (AP photo)

Coming into the draft, the Cardinals needed to find more pass rushers, and more players who could translate into 3-4 outside linebackers.

Connecticut defensive end Cody Brown was the day one choice and should have more of an immediate impact. But the Cards, for a second straight year, used their sixth-round choice on a project for the spot, taking Illinois defensive end Will Davis.

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Davis comes in different from last year's sixth-rounder, Chris Harrington. Harrington's strengths were in his high motor and

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run support, Bill Davis said. Will Davis is a pure pass rusher first and foremost.

"What we looked for was a pass rusher first," Bill Davis said. "He's a guy we can groom. On third down, he can come off the edge and he has already shown an ability to do that.

"We're excited about the potential."

In the seventh round, the Cardinals went offense twice, taking Pittsburgh running back/kickoff return man LeRod Stephens-Howling and then Cincinnati guard Trevor Canfield.

Stephens-Howling got particularly emotional talking after his pick, recalling his size (5-foot-7) made the NFL a long shot.

"This day has been a dream all my life," Stephens-Howling said as he broke down crying on his conference call. "I've been told all my life I could never do it because of my size. I am just ready to go train right now. I can't wait to come in and do whatever I can for the team."

Canfield, who can also play center, was practically giddy with the chance to play for the Cards.

Will Davis, meanwhile, said he thought all along he would be an NFL linebacker.

"That's what I have been training for," the 6-foot-2, 260-pounder said. "I just had a feeling that's what I was going to play in the NFL."

Will Davis said he knows he has a lot to prove. He went from 9½ sacks as a junior to 3½ sacks last year after dealing with an ankle injury a chunk of the season. Then he got sick during the scouting combine – his throat got infected and started closing, leading to surgery a few days later – hampering his workouts and his performance at his pro day.

But when a cardinal – the bird – bounced off his car on his drive home Sunday with his girlfriend, he saw it as a sign. A couple hours later, the Cardinals indeed called him to let him know he was coming to Arizona.

"This whole time I was just praying not to get drafted high, but to get drafted to the right place," Will Davis said. "In the NFL, that's what it is about, going to a place that compliments you."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 4/26/09. Updated 4/26/09.

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