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You've Got Mail: They'll Always Have Paris

Topics include the draft class, Hopkins and Budda, and next year's No. 1

Paris mailbag 0502

Through the draft, the Cardinals have a new offensive lineman and are moving closer to OTAs. Moving closer to a mailbag too, which is just below. Questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here.

From BB Dobson:

"Do they expect Paris Johnson to bulk up at all? Crazy to say but 313 pounds at 6-foot-6 is a bit light in the pants. I'd say he has room to grow into the low 320s range? Also, since Hump is still here do you think PJ might get some right tackle in at all?"

I've never met a player who doesn't bulk up some once they reach the NFL. Regardless of the school they attended, being a pro, and when you about 21 or 22, there is always room to fill out. So yes, I'd expect some of that. As for where Johnson plays. I do think right tackle could be in play, just like guard. There is no guarantee Kelvin Beachum will start on the right side. At this point, letting guys win the job will be what this is about. The new coaches don't have ties to any of the holdovers.

From Dewey White:

"Hi Darren. Regarding the PJJ pick, I'm very happy with it. Love that we are investing in the OL after all this time. My only concern is we didn't need an OT, we need interior OL. So Peter Skoronski made more sense. Here's the problem: did we just alienate D.J. Humphries? With Hop and Budda wanting out, D.J. is honestly the face of the team now. It's the reason he was the focus of the new uniform reveal and we just picked his replacement. D.J. is only 29, he has many years left in him. I'm sure he can't be happy with this."

I mean, he doesn't look unhappy about the arrival of Paris. There is also no lock that he will "replace" Hump. Let's see how it plays out. Maybe Paris plays the right side. Maybe he plays guard. And yes, at some point, maybe he plays left tackle. I'm not saying players don't get miffed when guys are drafted at their position (see Rodgers, Aaron or even Hicks, Jordan) but when there are good players taken, most of the time current players get it. That's how the league works. Hump got his extension last year. He's not going to be complaining.

From Sebastian Quiros:

"Hey Darren. I'm pretty happy with the Cardinals moves because I feel like we have many holes which can't be addressed in one single draft. What do you think the Paris pick means for Hump? Will Paris slot in at right tackle? Could it mean we are benching or perhaps even trading Hump?"

Humphries isn't going anywhere. Could Paris play on the right side? Yes. The Cardinals also need guards and Johnson played guard in college, so that is an option. Hump isn't being benched. He will be part of the line in 2023. I expect him to be the left tackle.

From John Buncles:

"Darren, thank you for the mailbag. Every year I feel the Cardinals draft a guy that I think could really make an impact, but for some reason is overlooked in the early rounds. I know that athleticism is not always directly proportional to football playing ability, but my gosh, Owen Pappoe seems like a tremendous athlete. I believe that I saw he ran a 4.39 40? I guess my question is why was he selected so late? Is he too small? I know this isn't Madden, but could he play in the secondary if he is too small to play linebacker at the NFL level? Thanks again, appreciate you! Go Suns!"

In his college career, Pappoe was good in the locker room but his production didn't match his physical gifts. He should do well on special teams but like anyone, he'll have to show he can figure out the mental side of the game. If he can, the physical attributes should make him a heck of a player.

From Felix Augusta:

"Hey Darren! I got a bunch of questions, but don't want to flood you with multiple emails.

  1. What's the plan at center? The free agent market is actually very thin, so we have to imagine a current Card is the guy. Jon Gaines? Lecitus Smith?
  2. What's the plan with Hopkins and Budda? Look, they asked for a trade. The team shopped them, and nobody bit. So they stay. It is what it is, right?
  3. What's the selection of Ojulari mean for Thomas and Sanders? I thought both looked great last year. I hope we aren't punting on them already.
  4. Why the QB? I loved the draft, trades included. Masterful by Monti. With that said, why Tune? We have Kyler (returning soon). McCoy. Blough. Driskel. Tune will never be 'the guy.'
  5. The BIG question: If we get the No. 1 pick in 2024 (whether ours or Houston), do we take Caleb Williams or trade the pick away for a bounty?"

Some answers:

  1. I would think Smith could have a shot at that but I am not ruling out signing someone else.
  2. I've never thought Baker was going anywhere, and I don't think the Cardinals ever shopped him, so I am not sure why you think that. The Hopkins thing is more weird as the days go on. I don't think the Cardinals are gonna just give Hop away but if the right deal comes along, I mean, they will have to consider it.
  3. Those are your top three edge rushers right now. Why would you punt any of them?
  4. How do you know he'll never be the guy? Also, it's a fifth-round pick -- he doesn't necessarily need to be the guy to be worth it.
  5. How about we get there first. But something to keep in mind -- if you move Kyler Murray before 2024, it's an $81 million dead cap hit. (CLARIFYING: If you cut Kyler, it's an $81M cap hit. If you trade him, it's only a $46M cap hit -- but you have to find someone to take the contract.)

From Corey Joseph:

"Where do we stand with Hopkins and Baker? I saw Hopkins doing some PR by claiming he didn't want to leave, which is nonsense. I don't really care about that, but the question is will Hopkins and Baker come and play for the Cardinals this year now that they've not been traded? Could they sit out? Cut them as veteran cap casualties? Believe it or not but I'm one of the few who thinks (if Hopkins and Baker stay) we might have a decent season."

They aren't going to be cut. Not sure why anyone would think that. I don't see them sitting out -- they each have two years left on their contracts. I never thought Baker was going anywhere anyway. The next milepost with all this will be the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. We will see if they are here for that.

From Pat Dillingham:

"Hey Urbz my question is about linebackers. We took Owen Pappoe who could just be a special teamer but part of me really thinks he could be a starter. Yes he seems small on paper but he's actually around the same size as Pro Bowl LB Deion Jones. Pappoe could be a starter, and Kyzir is for sure a starter. What does that mean for Zaven and Isaiah? What's your outlook on the LB personnel?"

I think I'd first slow the roll on Pappoe being a starter; a fifth-round rookie is going to have a hard time breaking into the lineup like that. They were working Collins as an outside linebacker at minicamp last week. I think it's too early to know because I don't think the coaches even know yet. These guys don't say "we need to see them on the grass" for fun. I think they are going to need a bunch of practices to see who makes sense where. When we get to training camp, I think they will have a better idea. But I believe Simmons and Collins both will have significant roles this season.

From Steven Stardevant:

"Mr. Urban. The former Cardinals general manager often stated that when settling on a draft pick, 'position need plays some part, however it is important to pick the best available player, for the needs today probably won't be the same as in five years.' That being said, and with the team having an elite quarterback in Kyler Murray, do you think the Cardinals would have slotted, for example, Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud in their top 31 or even their top 100? Or would they have, say, a second- or third-ranked cornerback or center ahead of those quarterbacks?"

Needs still matter, especially when you are talking about quarterback. I don't know what they thought of those QBs -- and it was moot since those guys were off the board before they picked -- but they weren't taking a QB early. Just like the Chiefs wouldn't, or the Bills, or the Chargers. Any big board is going to take that into account.

From Bob Kitsos:

"Thanks for your work on the mailbag. A fun and informative read. In the draft's third round, the Cards selected Michael Wilson a wide receiver from Stanford. The Cards currently have five or six receivers. In the fifth round, they picked Clayton Tune, a QB from Houston. The Cards currently have four quarterbacks. They selected only one D-lineman, Dante Stills from West Virginia. I appreciate the need for competition at positions, but wouldn't a center and another D-lineman have been a better choice?"

Let me ask this question: If you, for instance, have Wilson graded much better than a center or D-lineman, why would you take a significantly worse player? You still need multiple receivers. You still might trade Hopkins, and even if you don't, what big receivers do you have? (Answer: Zach Pascal. That's it. That's the list.) And I have no problem taking a fifth-round quarterback. Just because the Cardinals have three other ones besides Murray doesn't mean you can't improve there either.

From Uwe Paxcom:

"Hi Darren. I was looking at our current roster and actually feel we aren't as thin as we think. Do we have superstar names everywhere? No. But we do have bodies and guys with veteran experience. Particularly in the secondary and the defensive line. But the one position we are legitimately thin at is center. What are your thoughts on remaining free agents and holes in the roster?"

I agree they are thin at center. Anytime you have a position where there isn't a guy you can point to and say, "He makes sense as starter" is an issue, and center is that place right now. The way the roster is right now, I fully expect the Cardinals to take a look at every player who gets cut, and they will be third in the waiver claim order too.

From Steve Drumm:

"Darren, I know, I know. It's way too early to ask about the 2024 NFL Draft but you're probably going to get asked this question a lot between now and next April, so let's just get it out of the way. Most oddsmakers have the Cardinals landing the first pick in next year's draft and reigning Heisman Trophy winner QB Caleb Williams the odds-on favorite to be the first pick. If the Cardinals indeed get the first pick in next year's draft and Williams plays as well as expected, what's the likelihood of a change at QB?"

Sorry, I'm gonna go all Kyle Shanahan here. Remember "I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday?" Who knows if we will be alive? More importantly, who knows if all those things happen? You are assuming a) either the Texans or Cardinals have the worst record in the league, b) Williams continues to be a stud (probable) and c) Kyler doesn't do well. I have no idea how this will play out. No, I'm not ruling anything out. But how about we get a hell of a lot closer before we consider such things.

From Robert Healey:

"Hi Darren. Appreciate your insights. I believe the Cards will put a team out there that has the best chance to compete this year. I'm intrigued by your take on position competition in camp, that could bring youth (maybe free agent value/ savings) on the salary cap to help the Cardinals strategically over the next three years."

I don't know if there is any spot I specifically am thinking about right now. They have some youth at edge rusher and hopefully that's a spot where they can get better on rookie contracts. Their offensive line, besides Hump, is pretty affordable too.

From Greg Painter:

"As always thank you for all that you do and putting up with me. ALL HAIL MONTI! I already praised him in his free agency, but I personally think the draft was a home run. As a whole I am more optimistic as a Cards fan now than I have been. The draft experience was awesome! Met a lot of great fans who loved the Cards draft. Let's say K1 is not ready until Week 9 and they are 3-5 or 2-6, How much or at all do they play Kyler coming off a serious injury?"

To me, you play Kyler when he is ready. If he isn't ready, you don't. The record doesn't play into it with me. You need to see him in this offense and you need to see what strides he has made/can make as a player. You need that information going into the next offseason.

From TimTekulve:

"Darren. I had a very rare bad day for me and got home to read the mailbag (last week). Laughed my head off when I got to the last question. Thank you. For the record, I did want the Cards to trade out once maybe twice in the first round as I don't believe they are going anywhere this year. Again, thanks for the laugh. Go SUNS."

Coincidentally Tim, I am typing this answer moments after the Suns' disappointing loss Monday night. So now I get to have the bad day.

From Richard McLeod:

"Hello Darren. Any plans for a new color rush uniform? Or is it just going to be the three new uniforms for this season?"

Richard. A uniform question? I can't believe you went back to the well already. (No, no new color rush uniform.)

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