The calm before the free agency storm, although there is a lot going on within the league prepping for free agency (and I would guess the Cardinals will have a few moves before March 15 themselves). Here's a mailbag in the interim. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.
From Nigel G:
"Greetings Mr Urban, Cards fan from England asking, does the Jalen Carter situation screw up the Cardinals chances of getting Will Anderson? Also, any chance we extend D-Hop and keep him? Thanks for the mailbag, always enjoy seeing the different points of view."
The Carter thing is an interesting situation. It doesn't help him. And depending on what happened, I'd want to know a lot about anyone I would consider for a No. 3 overall pick, or No. 1, or whomever, Based on your question, I am assuming you think Anderson could go one to the Bears. That's realistic if the Bears don't trade. I still think the Bears trade with a QB-needy team and QBs go 1-2. But if Anderson goes 1, then the Cardinals will trade with a QB-needy team themselves. It's a good spot to be in. As for Hopkins, I'm not ruling anything out. But his status is definitely up in the air, and I wouldn't be shocked if he were moved.
From Henry R:
"Gut instinct -- what do you think happens at 1? I cannot describe how badly I want Will Anderson. We need Chicago to trade out, but you never know. Don't hit me with the 'I don't know.' Off topic, nothing grinds my gears worse than 'I don't know' to an opinion-based question. All my life, I don't know why. Is Anderson is more valuable than the two or three first-round picks Chicago could net at 1? If we had No. 1, would you trade out for a bounty, or would you take Anderson?"
You know what Henry? You want to know what grinds my gears? People coming into my mailbag demanding I do things. If I was feeling some kind of way as I write this, I would've ejected this question on that alone, but you caught me in a good mood. What do I think happens at 1? I think the Bears trade the pick. For what and to who, I have no idea. I think Anderson is going to be there at 3. I think if the quarterbacks keep gaining momentum and Richardson becomes a factor, I can still see a scenario where the Cardinals trade back even if Anderson is there. As for what I would do at 1, I'd want to know what the "bounty" would be. Because, as much as it ticks you off, I actually need all the specific details, just like any team would in making such a huge decision.
From Adie Heights:
"What are your thoughts on the Jalen Carter situation? Is he off your draft board? Full disclosure I've been a Will Anderson guy since day one. I'm doing all sorts of voodoo in the hopes to get him. That said, if catastrophe strikes and Will goes No. 1, I would still take Jalen Carter #3. Why? All players are unknowns. Boy scouts can suck, and 'bad guys' can be great. Both are a gambles. ... Literally as I was about the hit send on this message, the morning radio crew just compared Carter to Nkemdiche. Since I can't call them, I'm going to rant at you Darren (sorry!). Carter and Nkemdiche are WORLDS apart. Both are character risks, yes. However that's where the comp ends."
I am curious. How do you know that's where the comp ends? Have you done the background checks? I am being serious. What to we -- the public -- know about Carter really? We haven't talked to his coaches, people that are in the know. This is why I get frustrated with people who want the hot takes. Look, for me, as it stands, I wouldn't want to risk the third pick on Carter, given what we know. You are right, boy scouts can suck. Guys with an edge can be great (and you can argue you need an edge to be truly great.). But a guy who might be doing something incredibly stupid, like drag racing at night, why would I want that risk? Guess what? If the Cardinals make that pick and he flames out, all the people -- even those that wanted him -- rip the Cardinals for making a mistake. Not saying you never take risks, but again, for me? I have other options. (All that said, if Anderson is off the board, it's moot because a QB team will want to trade and the Cardinals I'd think would be all over that.)
From Jason W:
"Darren, I know you are getting a lot of questions about the facilities and other things that are coming out about the team so I appreciate your patience if you decide to answer mine. Are you hearing anything from inside the building about answering the criticism and what is going to be done to address them? I want to believe that the new administration would like to fix these problems and change the perception of the team. Thank you as always for your time, have a great day."
I am guessing you are referring to the NFLPA survey that was harsh to the Cardinals. I just got back from Indianapolis so no, I have not heard anything further. And you are right, I received multiple questions on this topic. The NFLPA put out an accompanying letter to the survey saying they hoped it would spur action and change. I am sure Michael Bidwill is aware of the results, and beyond that, I do not know.
From Josh Nielsen:
"What are our coaches/GM/owner focusing on the most for the draft as far as positions? Offensive line, defensive pass rushers, or a stronger overall defense? I feel like we had a ton of second to 3rd season guys on our defense this last year, but we looked horrible for the most part. Do you think we are looking for another kicker? Matt Prater is a great guy, I've met him, and he seems genuine, but we lost a total of four games last season due to missed field goals."
I'll start with the last part first -- I don't know if they will look to replace Prater, but lost four games on field goals? There was the Eagles game when Matt Ammendola missed the tying kick at the gun, but what other games are we talking about? I don't mind getting younger, but Prater still had a pretty good year. It's his health that would concern me more than his ability. As far as the draft, I expect to see both lines and cornerback get a long look. But free agency comes first, and I don't want them wasting a pick to force a position either.
From John Turilli:
"Do you really think the NFL Combine shows teams what players can do vs. game film? I was informed that the invites to the combine are not compensated? Is that true? Maybe the NFL should conduct a 'physical exam day' and call it quits. I truly trust our Cardinals are doing there homework and looking for players with the mentality of Budda."
Again, the Combine isn't to be used instead of game tape. It's to be used in conjunction with it, just like teams also use medical and interviews. As Monti Ossenfort made clear, it's the medical and interviews that are the most important for him. No the invites aren't compensated, but you usually aren't compensated for a job interview and that's essentially what this is.
From Bart Sutton:
"Darren, it is probably too soon to ask this but I am curious. Has there been anything that stands out that the new regime of coaches are doing or the way they are doing business that is different (better or worse or just interesting) than the previous regime? Have you had much contact with the new coaches?"
I have had a chance to meet some of them. But yes, it is far too soon. We know Jonathan Gannon's in-room energy is more palpable than Kliff Kingsbury, but how that translates to coaching and how it impacts the product on the field is TBD.
From Julius Krawiec:
"Given that our head coach and defensive coordinator ran a 4-3 defense and not a 3-4, is it safe to say that we will also be running a 4-3 defense?"
I wouldn't be surprised, but in the end, today's NFL sees defenses in sub-packages 75 to 80 percent of the time, so the base defense doesn't mean much. Maybe we can get some clarity this week when the assistant coaches meet with the media.
From Kellan Tinsley:
"What would the NFL draft be like if teams could trade picks far into the future like the NBA can?"
That's an interesting question. NFL teams can only trade picks from the next three draft cycles (so if there are pre-draft trades, picks from the 2023, 2024 and 2025 draft). Obviously the NBA can go much further, since the Suns gave the Nets a 2029 first-round pick as part of the Kevin Durant deal. To be honest, I don't know if it would change a ton. The NBA is about the players and draft picks -- unless they are in the lottery -- are valued a lot lower than in the NFL. The NFL has so many more players on a team, and one guy can change an NBA team's fortunes.