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The Annual Trek To Indy

Keim, Arians, Cardinals settle down for a week's work at NFL Scouting combine


As he's done in the past, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is scheduled to speak to the media at this week's Scouting combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – The tape study is constant for the Cardinals, and that includes General Manager Steve Keim.

That's what Keim will lean on when it comes to April's draft. This week's trip to the Scouting combine – where coach Bruce Arians and his offensive assistants headed to today, with the defensive coaches coming later in the week – is about personal as much as personnel.

"To me I still think what you see on tape is what you are going to get," Keim said. "The combine is your chance to learn about

these players off the field."

The portions of the combine televised on the NFL Network are the 40-yard dash or the throws to receivers. But in the evenings, teams get 60 formal 15-minute interviews with prospective draftees and a bunch more informal interactions with players. That – along with the all-important medical check – is where the crucial information lies.

"The players we have missed on over the years, we've missed on the person more than we have missed on the player," Keim said.

The Cardinals are looking to bolster all areas in the draft. That hasn't changed for Keim since he took over, regardless of the team needs. One of the GM's favorite sayings is that the needs in March and April change in October and November anyway, so locking in to any one spot doesn't make sense.

One example of that came last offseason, when the Cardinals went into the offseason believing linebacker Daryl Washington would only have a short suspension. Free agency and the draft came and went and the team decided only with what was supposed to be a short-term fix in the signing of veteran Larry Foote.

In late May, Washington was served with a plan-altering year-long ban – in this case, the needs didn't even wait until October or November to change – and the Cardinals had to make it work.

Yet there are areas the Cards want to address one way or the other. More speed in the linebacking corps is a must, both Keim and Arians have said. The search for a singular, dynamic pass rusher is ongoing.

The combine brings into focus what the Cardinals could do draft day. There are other benefits outside the draft, including meetings with representatives of the team's free agents-to-be. There are still a few weeks before players like cornerback Antonio Cromartie and nose tackle Dan Williams hit the open market, and while both figure to see what money could be out there before committing to stay, extensions remain possible.

Keim has already said he will be meeting with the agent of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Eugene Parker, in the quest to re-do Fitzgerald's contract and keep Fitzgerald in Arizona while lowering his scheduled $23.6 million salary cap number.

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