Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Steve Keim Not Tempted To Take Cornerback In First Round

Cardinals stayed true to board by choosing Tulsa inside linebacker Zaven Collins

The Cardinals' decision-makers in the War Room during the first round of the draft.
The Cardinals' decision-makers in the War Room during the first round of the draft.

Any thought of Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain falling to the Cardinals evaporated quickly on Thursday night.

The consensus top two cornerbacks in the draft both went in the top-10, eliminating a couple of potentially intriguing options when the Cardinals went on the clock at No. 16.

General Manager Steve Keim could have forced the issue by taking a cover man from the next tier of prospects, but went with the best-player-available strategy in adding linebacker Zaven Collins.

Even though there are questions about Robert Alford's ability to hold down the No. 2 cornerback spot alongside Malcolm Butler and Byron Murphy, the board didn't line up for a first-rounder to be added to the equation.

"Listen, there are a number of positions we can certainly improve upon and get more depth, but you don't want to force a pick," Keim said. "You don't want to take a player that's either got concerns off the field or medically. Or, quite frankly, push a guy up your board because you have a specific need at a position. They always change."

The third cornerback chosen in the first round was Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley, who had the aforementioned medical concerns after a recent back surgery. He went to the Titans with the No. 22 overall pick.

Northwestern's Greg Newsome II went to the Browns at No. 26, and Georgia's Eric Stokes rounded out the group by going to the Packers at No. 29.

Pass-catcher was another area of perceived need, but the consensus top-four prospects – tight end Kyle Pitts and wideouts Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith – were also chosen in the top-10.

Keim said there were opportunities to move both up and down in the first round, but ultimately chose to stay put.

"Once we got to that pick, Zaven was way too high on our board to not select him at that point," Keim said.

While Collins may not have been the cornerback or wide receiver that many fans desired, Keim selected an athlete that clearly intrigues the Cardinals.

Collins is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds with good movement skills, and should be an asset to a defense that jumped from among the league's worst in 2019 to above average in 2020. Keim saw progress in the group from Year 1 to Year 2 under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, and is excited about adding more athleticism to the unit.

Cornerback may still need to be bolstered, but the Cardinals have an intriguing inside linebacker pairing for the foreseeable future.

"Playing side-by-side with Isaiah Simmons, when you see those two guys in there with their length, it's really like having two trees in the middle of the field," Keim said.

While there is room on the roster for another playmaker on offense, coach Kliff Kingsbury said there was no tug of war when the Cardinals were on the clock, as everyone felt good about Collins.

"The athletic traits are just special," Kingsbury said. "There wasn't much doubt when the pick came."

Images of GM Steve Keim, coach Kliff Kingsbury, owner Michael Bidwill and others on the first day of the draft.