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The Wait For No. 16


With pick No. 16 in the first round of Saturday's NFL draft, whom the Cardinals will select remains a mystery -- even to the team.

With little left to do except wait for phone calls – and even those weren't expected to be much more than a trickle – Cardinals general manager Rod Graves spent Friday afternoon watching more tape of college prospects.

There wasn't really anything to be gained by it, really, just that "it's like watching a good movie over and over again," Graves said. "I just enjoy watching good football players and I will keep my fingers crossed we will pick one of them."

The decision-makers in the Cardinals' organization finished up their work [


]( with a handful of mock drafts to help determine who might and who might not be available when the Cards finally select at No. 16 overall Saturday.

It has been assumed that the most likely first-pick targets for the Cards include cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running backs Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall.

But even the Cards can't know what the draft board will look like by the time they choose.

"What you try to do is maintain the frame of mind you have to be alert to any possibility," Graves said. "It means being prepared to take a position you weren't discussing earlier, which might be away from a primary need position to a best player available scenario. We have to be prepared to move up if we need to, and we have to be prepared to move back and what we would consider getting if we were to move back.

"And all of those determinations really can't be decided until draft day."

Graves said it wasn't likely the team would trade up but that it "isn't out of the question." It's more probable the team consider moving up in the second round, like it did last year to grab falling defensive tackle Alan Branch.

Assuming the Cards will look at the position they don't take in round one – either a running back or a cornerback – waiting until pick No. 50 may not give the team a player for whom they were hoping.

There has already been much talk about trades within the first round. Will Kansas City move down from No. 5? The Jets at No. 6? The Patriots at No. 7? Will Baltimore move up to grab quarterback Matt Ryan? Might Cincinnati or New Orleans deal up to get defensive tackles Sedrick Ellis or Glenn Dorsey?

In truth, Graves said there is always less activity trade-wise on draft day than is speculated upon.

Nevertheless, Graves said he was going to return a few messages from other teams Friday, conversations that are more about willingness to deal that actual trade talk.

"Everyone has pretty much stated around us they are open (to a trade), just like we are," Graves said.

In addition to needing a running back and at least one cornerback, the Cards would seem to be in the market for an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a pass rusher, maybe a linebacker and perhaps – later on – a quarterback.

Graves emphasized there are always a couple of surprises in the first round, another reason the team "can't get locked in" to a certain position or player.

But, Graves added, "I would be less than honest if I didn't tell you there are always two or three players you always hope you have an opportunity for."

"You just have to be ready to move on (if they are gone)," Graves added. "It's like taking a blow to the chest and getting up off the ground and saying 'Let's go.' You've got to get ready for the next one."

Contact Darren Urban at Posted 4/25/08.

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