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You've Got Mail: The Question Of The 'Obvious' Draft Choice

Topics include Harrison's combine decisions, McBride's role, and HGTV recording renovations

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The Scouting combine is over, and by the time the mailbag hits again next week, dozens of free agent reports will be out there in the world. Consider this the mailbag before the storm. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. Don't forget to send a question for a future mailbag.

From T in 801:

"I understand the need at multiple positions and trading down for more picks makes sense in a lot of cases. But don't you think at some point you have to make the obvious draft choices and take the best player available especially when you have a need at that position? Rookies Will Anderson and Jalen Carter were studs and Arizona could have used that talent. If MHJ is available at 4 and Arizona passes him up I feel like it will be Adrian Paterson/Levi Brown all over again."

I understand the sentiment. And anything is possible. We *think* Harrison will be that, but we don't know. And we don't know who the player will be that the Cardinals may take otherwise. (And if the Cardinals take Anderson last year it's fine but they are still looking for a high-end tackle, so maybe that is even more of a need this season with Harrison in the mix and so maybe receiver can't even be considered.) Final point: I get that there are "obvious" draft choices. But they don't always pan out. Keep that in mind. 

From Colin B:

"If the Patriots take Marvin Harrison Jr. would there be any chance that we trade Kyler and take a QB? I know that our GM has said that Kyler is a franchise quarterback but the people question Kyler?"

None of the people that might question that are in the building. 

So no. 

From Kenny Long:

"Hi Darren, Marvin isn't participating in the combine, or a pro day, and hasn't hired an agent yet. I have thoughts. To a degree, I totally agree in principle. The underwear Olympics is not football. We have two years of game tape to evaluate the football player. The fact he's not hired an agent is strange and probably a little bit reckless. I'm not at all saying Marvin isn't still the odds on favorite for us at 4, however these are the questions I'm sure Monti himself is asking. A free spirit might not fit with the program, sometimes. Know what I mean?"

I don't think this has anything to do with being a "free spirit" or a flake. I think it has everything to do with knowledge, which Harrison Jr. has a ton of since his dad was a longtime Hall of Fame wideout who knows exactly how the draft process works. MHJ is going to be a top 5 pick in all probability and was going to be without all this other stuff. Teams want to meet with him personally (that happened at the combine and will happen on visits) and they want medical info (he did medical tests.) For him, there isn't anything else from the combine or workouts from which he will benefit. As for the agent, Lamar Jackson has never had an agent. It's worked out fine for him. 

From Aldon Maloney:

"DARREN! I don't want all this talk about Harrison Jr. or any wide receiver they bring in to overshadow the fact Trey McBride is our No. 1 wide receiver and No. 1 weapon on offense; aside from Connor all respect due. Look at KC and Travis Kelce. He's a TE and he's clearly the No. 1 WR and #1 weapon on that Super Bowl-winning offense, repeatedly. That is who McBride is, or should be, for us. I'm fearful McBride's greatness is going to be ignored or forgotten and he's going to be regulated to the No. 4 target or something. An absolute travesty. I've heard very little talk on the local radio about him. And I've seen distinct lack of articles about him on this here website. The Cardinals media team feels the need to tweet out a 'our franchise QB' Kyler tweet every week. How come no 'our franchise TE' tweets?"

Let's hold on a minute, Aldon. Taking shots at the social team isn't going to help your argument with me, especially when there was a Kyler week on social just like there was a Budda week on social and how there will be a Conner week, and a Paris week, and yes, a McBride week. As for the lack of articles -- of which I make the decisions -- please tell me what articles I would write about him given that he's been on vacation since the season ended? Couple things about your initial points. A tight end is not a wide receiver. He can be the No. 1 target, but he cannot do all the things a wide receiver can do nor can he provide a team what it needs at WR. It's interesting you mention Kelce and the Chiefs. Yes, they won the Super Bowl. But all season, it was noted how they needed a top wide receiver, and the likelihood is high they take a wide receiver in the first round. So Kelce isn't enough.

From Bob Haines:

"There are a few Cardinal players that management needs to make a decision on within the next year. I feel there are four current players that need to be given an extension. Budda Baker is the heart and soul of the defense. James Conner has proven he can run the ball effectively in this offense. Zaven Collins has been willing to do whatever has been asked and played efficiently. Greg Dortch has proven his worth both as a punt returner as well as a slot receiver. What are your thoughts?"

My thoughts are that you make good arguments, but I don't anticipate any extensions going down until the Cardinals get through free agency and perhaps even the draft. 

From Joe Cardea:

"Darren, I see free agency as an interior defensive line drill. In the draft I'd go WR or OT with 4 and whichever doesn't get picked, with CB, at 27. At 35 and below I'd go BPA. If they could nail those four positions I think it would be an outstanding offseason. I think edge by committee is the way to go in 2024. What I don't know is what positions will be strong in the next years draft. Do you have any insight?"

Insight over next year's draft? Goodness no. I've just learned the guys around this year's draft. As for free agency, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals get a defensive lineman or two and also an offensive linemen. Not only are they looking for a tackle, they could use a left guard as well. Guard is a position within which they could mine in free agency. It's also important to note something Monti Ossenfort said. "We never go into it saying, 'Hey we are going to target this position this high in the draft and with the next pick we're taking this position."

From Nigel Green:

"Hi Darren, hope you enjoyed your week at the combine. Given the need for a decent edge rusher and the fact that they're lacking in this year's draft, do you think the Cardinals should have taken Will Anderson last year? Especially as the tackle position is so deep this year. I know it's a moot point but I'm curious to your opinion."

I appreciate you acknowledging it's moot. It's crucial in this regard -- hindsight is always going to be perfect. If you're asking now? Probably? But in the moment, it was genius because it looked like the Cardinals would get a top 5 pick this year because the Texans were going to be starting a rookie quarterback and had been terrible. I seriously doubt that the passing up of Anderson would be a thing if the Cardinals were picking 3-4 in the first round instead of 4-27. (This is where the comment section fills with people saying, yes, it would still be a thing.) 

From Tom Cowley:

"Hi Darren, in your present opinion who or what would be your NEED positions to fill this year for free agent, draft, keeper: OL, DL, WR, EDGE, RB, CB? I realize that all depends on who is available in the draft, and who could we afford, and who couldn't we compete with out this year as a holdover. Tough call, but who better than you?"

In my opinion? I appreciate your noticing that there are details that are needed/unknown. I will put it this way: I do think the Cards need to have a plan to fill (or try to fill) one of the two offensive line spots (left tackle, left guard) in free agency. Doesn't mean both couldn't be addressed in draft as well but you want to give yourself some leeway. I think they could re-sign/add to the defensive line in free agency, and I think they could use a veteran cornerback in the room. But other than running back, I could see all those positions being addressed in the draft, regardless of what happens in free agency. 

From Dan Alan:

"Love listening to you and Paul and Dani on Cardinals Underground, but the recent episode had me yelling inside! Listening to you guys talk about how great Monti is in the draft, how badly the team needs a 'game wrecking' and 'generational talent' on the defensive line, and how loaded this draft is at OT. Are you forgetting that Monti passed on Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. to draft a tackle one year too soon? Monti had his chance to get that player, and grab a tackle this year after trading back with a team that wants a QB or Marvin. It seems great to have two first round picks this year, but let's be honest, at least one of those guys will be a bust."

First of all, you can always go outside to yell. Second, I don't recall reading anywhere (or getting an email from you, to be honest) last year saying it made sense to wait for an offensive tackle until this draft (and I'd also need to know who the tackle was going to be all last season instead of Paris Johnson Jr. playing every offensive snap.) Third, you say one of the two first-round picks would be a bust. Which only makes sense if you acknowledge that before the draft last year Will Anderson could have easily been a bust. Most importantly, as I mentioned above, last year it looked like the Houston pick was going to be a top 5, and not 27. The draft is all about hindsight. I get that. Every star that isn't drafted first overall, another team can usually take in on the chin that they didn't take the right guy. And I'm not even saying that. Not yet. Maybe Anderson is a future Hall of Famer. But what if PJJ becomes that guy too?

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Darren, hope you had fun at the Combine. I saw the NFLPA report card and yes it's not all A's but it's better and I'm proud as a fan it's better. If a fan just sees the Cardinals grades and is upset I would tell them to read all the report cards. Here's my question. Do you think an NFL owner would ever let HGTV and Food Network people re-do stadium locker rooms and cafeterias? It would bring non-NFL fans who watch those shows and combined them with NFL fans. I am self-aware crazy person so if this is to crazy I understand just want your opinion please. Thank you for your time."

Fun at the Scouting combine is all relative after 22 of them, but it was good to see my pal Darin Gantt of "Ask The Old Guy" fame (google it) and visit Loughmiller's, as well as get what I find is good info this time of year. As for your idea -- it's fascinating and I actually like it. Makes some sense. Do I think an owner would do it? No, because those shows rely on the hosts to make the decisions, and those areas at the stadium (or a facility) are usually remade after high-level meetings and decisions by the organization. 

From Kenneth Schroeder:

"I think someone has asked you this question before but which Cardinals team do you think would've won head to head? The 208 Super Bowl team or the 2015 team that went 13-3? Thanks!"

I would guess if any number of players from the 2008 team saw this answer they would be less than happy with me, but I would go with the 2015 squad. Offensively, they were more balanced, and defensively, once they added Dwight Freeney, they were excellent defensively (before Tyrann Mathieu hurt his knee, especially). That said, Warner, Anquan and in-his-prime Fitz made the 2008 passing game I think better, even with Carson Palmer's career year in 2015. 

From Max Lloyd:

"Dear Darren, I think I speak for all of us Cardinals fans when I say thank you for giving us this opportunity to interact with a Cardinals team member and feel like we are a part of the team, so we can ask questions and comments and giving concerns for our football team. I think it's genuinely a good thing what you're doing here helping us connect with the team that we so desperately love especially in the dire situation. You're doing great and you continuously bring a smile to my face every time I read the comments and then you read them and interact with all of us Cardinals fans. I"m just saying thank you and Go Birds."


(I kid, I kid.)

That's kind. Not sure that every fan would necessarily agree (in my search for something else on the Google machine I ran across a year-plus-old Reddit discussion about me, and I probably should avoid reading such things.) I do appreciate the compliments, and we'll keep grinding out the mailbags.

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