The draft is in the books. The mailbag, it goes on. As always, you can send a question for a future mailbag by going here.
From John McGill via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren. Keep up the good work. When I read about Zaven Collins I think about the same things people were saying when they drafted the Honey Badger and Budda Baker. They were good players but the Cardinals really do not have a position to put them. They found a place for both. Do you know if the Cards maybe could have tried to trade down, and pick up a pick in either the third- or fourth-round and get Collins later in the first round? Do you know if someone else was interested in Collins?"
Steve Keim said the Cards had talks about potential trade downs, but nothing materialized to the level it would've taken to risk losing Collins, whom they (obviously) liked very, very much. Michael Bidwill said on the draft show that the Patriots, had Mac Jones not been available at 15, would've snagged Collins. But otherwise, we don't know where else Collins might've gone.
From James Savage via azcardinals.com:
"I'm sure you're going to get an earful about our first-round pick. My condolences. I'm trying not to be salty, but what is the obsession with 'versatile' players? I mean how good is the Cards' track record with these players that they keep going back to the well in the first round? Perimeter corner or WR2 were both clear needs. And if you don't like those options, why not trade back and try to get back into the third or fourth rounds. No offense to Zaven, who seems like a fine player, but I'm writing this after round one and I'm really hoping some redemption is coming in the coming days."
Obviously, the Cardinals took a receiver in the second round. He's not a WR2, but he fills a needed role. And as for perimeter corner, yes, that was a need, and may still be after waiting until Day 3 to address the position. But they are worked hard to get away from chasing need in the first round, and who knows what they thought of guys like Newsome. Farley clearly was off the table because of his medicals. Steve Keim made it clear that Collins is not here for his "versatility" nor is he positionless.
From Sebastian Quiros via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. The two first picks of ours were Zaven and Rondale. I love both although yes, I think there were more pressing needs than drafting a Mike like Zaven, I still like him, stud. There is still one big question mark. What about corner? Is Keim maybe thinking of a trade? Is he just going to go to the offense and tell them 'Hey y'all got to win the games because our CB room is low in depth so at some point they may get burned and we will need y'all to score a lot of points'? What are your thoughts? I had already sent a question that shows I wasn't pleased with Zaven. No disrespect to the man, as I said I really like him, I just felt we had more pressing needs so I was a little heated."
Again, I get the needs thing. I'm not going to sway anyone by arguing, so I won't. When it comes to the draft, there are no reasons to get ahead of ourselves. Zaven Collins -- or any player -- may turn out to be good, and he may turn out to be a poor pick. If people knew for sure, they'd be the highest paid GM in the league. I'll say this, people want to keep talking need, but we don't know what the internal analysis is for, say, Jordan Hicks. We don't know what free agent at cornerback they might still sign.
From Juan de la Peña via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, what an exciting moment Every time we get some NFL action. Do you think the Collins pick impacts Hicks playing time directly on Year 1, and how much does a GM lean on scouts thru a pick? I mean, at the end it is a Keim decision, but how many people are involved? Also, I want to hear your opinion. I believe Keim tried to trade back but didn't find a partner, so that's why I'm not mad for going back-to-back LB, because he stuck with his draft board. Thanks from Santa Fe, Argentina, a totally Cardinals fan!"
Yes, I think Collins will directly impact Hicks' playing time. Steve Keim all but said that. Collins will still have to show he can do it, and Hicks is a good player (and proud man) who isn't going to just let Collins have anything. But you don't draft a guy in the first round without wanting him to step up sooner rather than later. I think the amount of offseason work the rookies get will make a difference there. As far as the scouts, it's all part of the equation. But they spend weeks having meetings, with coaches and scouts and people in the personnel department, breaking down players and assigning grades.
From BDUB Wooten via azcardinals.com:
"Now Darren you see why everyone was asking you about Teddy Bridgewater. Everyone knew Carolina wasn't sold on him. Broncos get him for a sixth-rounder and will only pay him $3 million of his salary this year with Carolina paying the rest. Back when we were asking we hadn't signed McCoy yet so who would you have rather had, Streveler or Bridgewater, even at $3M, and a 6th? I like McCoy fine but Teddy is better and likely a better fit. Thanks for the mailbag."
Teddy wasn't redoing his deal so he could be traded into an automatic backup situation, I wouldn't think. In Denver, he has a chance to start if Drew Lock falters. That wasn't happening in Arizona. Do I think Bridgewater is probably better than McCoy? Probably. Do I think it's such a difference, as a backup QB, that I think anyone should lose any sleep over having McCoy instead? I do not.
From Adere Schalk via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren. I just watched Flight Plan, Episode 1. About nine minutes in, we see the Watts touring the facility. They hit the gym where they are greeted by Chandler and Budda - and also Corey Peters. Peters tells J.J. 'You're going to love it here.' I'm confused. Why is Corey Peters working out in the Cards' gym? He's not on the team (or is he?!)"
At the time Watt was visiting -- March 2 -- the new league year had not yet started and Peters was still under contract. He was rehabbing and working out. At this point, no Peters isn't on the roster. He is a free agent. We will see what happens, but as of right now, I do not expect him to be back.
From Dan Graham via azcardinals.com:
"It seems to me that Corey Peters would be a very reliable player in the middle of the defensive line. Phillips, Watt, Allen seem to me to be more defensive ends. In the middle at present are two guys who were rookies last year. Wouldn't it be prudent to have a veteran like Peters, who has been very good in the past, in the middle?"
If Peters is able to rehab from his wrecked knee, there is always a chance he could return at a later date if they determine he could help. But if you think Lawrence and Fotu can plug up the middle, and much of the time you may only need two defensive linemen in nickel situations, then I don't know how many guys on the roster you'd need.
From Jacob Legang via azcardinals.com:
"Hello sir. I hope that you are doing ok. Do you think we would bring some of the players that were on our team last year depending on the draft, like De'Vondre Campbell? Lots of people keep talking to me saying we should trade for Julio Jones. I don't think the Cardinals would trade for Julio but lots of people are saying to me, 'Imagine Kirk, Green, Hopkins, and Julio.' I do not believe it would work out but I also want to hear it from a professional like you just to make sure. One more thing sir, would you ever consider doing what Ron Wolfley and Dave Pasch does with play-by-play for games? I feel like it would be cool to see you doing those each week. Anyway, sorry if it was too long but thank you as always and have a nice day!"
- Now that Collins is here, no, Campbell isn't coming back.
- When a Julio Jones becomes potentially available, you pay attention and, as Steve Keim likes to say, do your due diligence. But no, I don't see them getting a second WR with a mega-contract.
- I appreciate the kind words, and when I was very young, play by play sounded like something I'd like to do. But I see the mastery by which Pasch operates and I could never be on that level.
From Derek Cooper via azcardinals.com:
"Hello from the Black Hills of Dakota! We traditionally draft 'best player available' over 'need' every year since Steve Keim took over as GM. What if a top rated OT, OG, Edge, or my top prospect at 16 ILB Parsons is available? The only way that gets trumped is if a top three WR or a top 2 CB is still there. I cant wait to see this unfold!"
Well, as you saw, those top receivers and cornerbacks were gone. I don't know how they felt about Parsons, but clearly they liked another inside linebacker well enough to nab him.
From Joy Brooks via azcardinals.com:
"Darren, in last week's mailbag someone asked who the biggest family in the NFL was and your response was the Mannings. Though that's a good answer, i have another one for you -- the Matthews family: Clay Sr was a 49er; Clay Jr, Browns and Falcons; Bruce, Oilers/Titans; Clay III, Packers; Kevin, Titans & Panthers; Jake, Falcons; and Casey, was drafted by the Eagles, though I''m not sure he actually played. I confess I hadn't heard of all of them before I went looking, but Clay Jr, Clay III and Bruce were pretty big names for a lot of years."
That's a good call. The question was actually if there was a family who made football the family business. The Mannings popped to mind but the Matthews are a good call; former Cardinals TE Troy Niklas was also from that family; Bruce Matthews is his uncle.
From Robert Malicki via azcardinals.com:
"Paying close attention to the trades and free-agent signings by Steve Keim, there seems to be a method to his approach. Many of these players are coming to us because they see a former coach of theirs on our staff or a former teammate on our roster. Do you think Keim is counting on this as a shortcut to help players and coaches settle in with one another more quickly and effectively?"
It can't hurt, but if you look across the league, if the money is equal, then having a former coach you liked to play for always helps in the process. I don't think the Cardinals do anything that out of the ordinary in this regard.
From Michael Tuckman via azcardinals.com:
"Hi Darren, we're still VERY thin at TE. On that note, if Atlanta selects Kyle Pitts at No. 4 overall, do you see a scenario where the Cards try to trade for Hayden Hurst? He had close to 60 receptions last season and is still on his very affordable rookie deal (even though he is 27). Would our sixth-rounder get that deal done? Seems like a win-win for both teams."
This was a prescient question. The Falcons did draft Pitts, Hurst is expected to be on the market, and we'll see what happens. I wouldn't rule out sending a future pick for him, although he only has one year left on his deal so I'm not giving much more than a sixth I wouldn't think. If they even believe he fits what they want to do.
From Roose Runlo via azcardinals.com:
"Do you expect the Cardinals to look at recently released Raiders DT Mo Hurst? I ask because he's a good player, but also our DL worries me. Other than Watt, we haven't added anyone. We've lost Peters and Blackson, which are both significant. I feel I may be alone. All I hear about is CB and WR, which are valid concerns. But the DL really needs some attention, man."
Well, I recently wrote about the defensive line, and obviously they didn't take anyone in the draft. Maybe they could add a veteran. Hurst signed with the 49ers, so he's out, but they have spent three top-four-round draft picks on defensive linemen the previous two years, so you have to be counting on those guys at some point.
From Steve Drumm via azcardinals.com:
"OK, I'm really gonna ask you a serious question for once. If you, Darren Urban, were really a genie in a bottle and I found you on some tropical beach far away in the south seas, would you grant me three really simple wishes? 1) Bring Daryl Washington back to play LB for us; 2) Give me the authority to change the Cardinals uniform colors to whatever I see fit; 3) No more dry sarcasm out of you for the rest of your genie life! Would you do it? Peace."
Impressed by what you consider serious, Steve. Not feeling a lot of incentive there, though, to be honest. What's in it for me, as genie Darren?
From Rich Fourmy via azcardinals.com:
"With all the stuff I read about how Hopkins is the No. 1 receiver, A.J. Green is the No. 2 and Kirk is the No. 3, I keep thinking it would be awesome if Larry moved to tight end. He is a big boy and a great blocker, and has the surest hands in the game. He already went from being a wideout to a slot receiver. Is there any chance he could move to tight end? I know it's far fetched, but I keep thinking it would be awesome."
Nope. (No matter what Kyle says.)
From Luis Hildalgo via azcardinals.com:
"As I prepare my question, I should add that football is calling me. In fact, with the guidance from God, football was, and is, what kept me alive to reach this point; I stand now before State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Hearing my calling me inside, I contemplate sneaking/breaking in to the stadium; to either fulfill or to deceive myself. What's the worst that may happen to me for trespassing on private property? My only thoughts of outcomes from this: I'll get arrested or I'll be taken in for mental evaluation."
Gotta say, Luis, the first misstep was announcing this in the mailbag. How about you hold off for a visit until the Cardinals play a game this summer. It can even be preseason. Or maybe attend a training camp practice. That seems ... a better course of action.
From Tucson Card via azcardinals.com:
"Hey Darren, I'm a long-time commenter, but a first-time mailbagger. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. I enjoy listening to the Big Red Rage and Underground (usually on work commutes.) Have you guys ever considered including Ron Wolfley on Cardinals Underground? The recent debate between Pauley and Odegard pertaining to the impact of player leadership on the win-loss column was entertaining. I feel like Odegard's analytical perspective juxtaposed with Wolfley's 'hardened experienced vet' perspective would be interesting. Analytics are certainly insightful, but, especially with football, you also need to understand how to ball and how to motivate grown men. I know both guys are smart and understand analytics and the game of football, but it could be an interesting dynamic pairing their perspectives together. Lastly, could you please let Mr. Bidwill know that Kyler Murray and a vast majority of fans are pining to see the boys go back to wearing the very crisp and classic old school uniforms with the AZ flag? That is all. Thanks again."
I'm pretty sure Kyler can talk to Michael if he so chooses on a number of topics, so I don't need to be the go-between on that. As for Wolf on Underground, he was on Underground for a long time. The podcast has existed since I came to work for the team in 2007; logistics made it too difficult to keep Wolf as part of the show, and adding Kyle just made sense. So while we could have him on for a special occasion at some point, you'll have to settle for me, Kyle and Paul for now.
From Zack Maus via azcardinals.com:
"What up Urbs! Upon reading last week's edition of the mailbag as I always do, I noticed you need my input on Chris' statement regarding this ongoing uniform phenomenon. I can indeed confirm that we the passionate fanbase of the Red Sea miss absolutely NOTHING. I can also confirm the cat walk would consist of Budda, Kyler, Nuk, and probably Jones, though I'd like to think Watt/Simmons would want a spot as well. But as for Kyler should be or is 'running the place' is simply a misconception. I DO however feel the sense that our fanbase just wants Mr. Murray to be as happiest the organization can make him."
*Aaron Rodgers nods in agreement.*
From Punchy Juan via azcardinals.com:
"Darrito, I've done some sleuthing. I have a prediction. I believe, as of 04/21/2021 at 2:34 PM, the Cardinals have new uniforms yet to be unveiled. That's why Hopkins posted a picture with a row of Cardinals helmets. That's why you were at the stadium 'working on a big story'. Maybe I'm feeling spicy and want to go a step further and also predict you'll be using the uniform unveiling to announce Larry's return. Futuro muy guapo."
I am speechless. I am without speech. ... 'Tis the era of conspiracy theories, I suppose.