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Draft Blog - by Jeff Gollin

Cardinals Sign 16 Undrafted Free Agents/Release 2 OG's  -- Tues. April 30, 2013 - The Cardinals released  starting right guard Adam Snyder and backup guard Jeremiah Warren to make room for 25 draftees and undrafted free agent signees.  (By my count, the number of new rookies represents 27.7% of the total 90-man preseason roster). Snyder (a veteran brought over from the Niners) had been the target of fan criticism during the past year (The Cardinals had brought in new rookie blood a year ago to shore up the offensive tackle position and drafted two highly regarded rookie guards in Cooper and Watford who were expected to contribute right away.

All told among the rookie UDFA and draft crop, the Cardinals added  2 running backs, 6 wide receivers, a tight end, 4 offfensive linemen, one DT, 5 linebackers and 6 DB's to the roster.

Tidbits of interest - UDFA's to watch - Jarod Brown (who was part of a potent Clemson receiving corps). NT Padric Scott from FAMU. OT Jamal Johnson-Webb who dominated at a small school (Alabama A&M). The Oklahoma Sooner deep patrol tandem of Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris. Michael Rios is a rare pro prospect of Cuban descent. Incidently, twe signed two "Javons"  - Lawson the WR and Harris the S.

So How'd We Do?  --  Sun. April 28, 2012 -- This is the burning question we all have when we arise from our morning-after comas. And what do we do? We reach for the sports section of our local daily or Google all the football sites to see what everybody else is saying about us. I say "hogwash!" The media seldom has a clue; and besides, everyone knows that "it takes 3 years yada yada yada". (If you believe that one, deliver it to Rod Graves with his early morning coffee and bagel). For a fairly effective way to get a quick, "down & dirty" evaluation of the Cardinal Draft, try Dr. Gollin'sPost Draft Hangover Cure. It removes the temptation to make morning-after rationalizations for sucky draft decisions by comparing (a) where they were actually picked with (b) how we had them rated prior to the draft. (One note of caution - each of us will, no doubt have different-looking boards, and this will affect our assessments of the value of each player). That said, here's mine:

  • Johnathan Cooper G - #7 Pick. #4 on Pre Draft Board. (Fair Value)

  • Kevin Minter ILB - #45 Pick. #87 on Pre Draft Board. (Not-So-Hot Value)

  • Tyrann Mathieu DB - #69 Pick. #107 on Pre Draft Board. (Not-So-Hot Value)

  • Alex Okafor OLB - #103 Pick. #51on Pre Draft Board. Excellent Value)

  • Earl Watford G - #116 Pick. #84 on Pre Draft Board. Very Good Value)

  • Stepfan Taylor RB - #140 Pick. #161 on Pre Draft Board. (Slightly overdrafted and Meh Value)

  • Ryan Swope WR - #174 Pick. #103 on Pre Draft Board. (Excellent Value)

  • Andre Ellington RB - #187 Pick. #115 on Pre Draft Board. (Excellent Value)

  • DC Jefferson TE - #219 Pick. Not Listed on 197 Player Pre Draft Board. (Value Unknown)

Conclusion - After Cooper, we reached a little for Minter and Mathieu, but after that, racked up good-value after good-value for the balance of the draft. Solely on that basis (i.e. & not factoring in any "need" or "my board is better than your board" issues) I'd grade our draft as Very Good. (& as good as you'll get, since no NFL team, to my knowledge, is 100% perfect in consistently drafting for high-value). All in all, a very nice job by S Keim in his first draft as Cardinal GM. Way to go!

It Happens Every Draft - -  Tues. April 23, 2012 -- There's always one guy you never heard of who leaps up the draft boards at the last minute to surprise everyone. This year is no exception - So yesterday evening, I'm half dozed-off in front of the teevee, memorized by the crawl at the bottom of the NFL Network screen and happen to to notice that the #1 cornerback on Mike Mayock's draft board is not Dee Milliner. Instead, it's some guy I never heard of named "Hayden." That got my attention. Hmmm. I checked the BRS Cornerback prospect list. Maybe I had him listed as a marginal player rated lower than #15. Nope, the dude just didn't seem to exist. Later that evening, analyzing his latest mock draft, Mayock made mention of the "metioric rise of DJ Hayden.

It turns out that Hayden was a highly rated corner who, after a routine practice, absorbed what was thought to be a routine hit. It wasn't. He nearly severed an artery leading to his heart, and his life was saved by emergency surgery. He was lucky to be alive, let alone be in any kind of condition to work out prior to the draft. But he did just that, running under 4.42 (someone had him unofficially 4.33) during his pro day and being considered medically cleared. Until then, it was assumed that the only corner worthy of a top 10 - 15 pick would be Milliner. If a couple of GM's agree with Mayock that Hayden is worth drafting ahead of Milliner (whose shoulder is rumored to be healing slower than expected) it could upset the domino effect at the top of the draft.

(Note regarding player write-ups - I got lazy this year and have left the order of players the same as the way they were ranked back in late-January. Accurate player rankings can be found on my Player Ranking Master Chart and Master Draft Board. Use them to determine where each player is ranked, but go to the player write-ups by position for more detailed analyses).

 Revis Deal Could Change Top of Draft - -  Mon. April 22, 2012 -- Trading Darrelle Revis to the Buccos gives the Jets a #13 pick to go with their #9. This gives the Jets many options; the most likely two being to (1) keep the picks or (2) use one or both to trade up higher in the first round in order to replace Revis with the top CB in the draft, Milliner. Each time a team ahead of the Cardinals drafts a pass rusher (Jones or Jordan), corner (Milliner) or D-lineman (Lotuleilei or Floyd)  means the more likely a top O-lineman like Fisher, Johnson, Warmack or Cooper (or Fluker?) will drop into the Cardinals' lap at #7. Just thought you might want to know.

8 Days Out - -  Thurs. April 18, 2013 --Things are still pretty quiet. One bit of conventional wisdom that seems to be settling in is that the Cardinals are highly likely to either take an offensive lineman or a pass rusher with their #7 pick. (There are 5 linemen - Joeckel, Fisher, Lane Johnson, Warmack and Cooper - considered "top 7" prospects and 2 or 3 pass rushers - D Jordan, J Jones and Mingo - mentioned as top 7 material). Where it gets dicey is trying to predict which of these guys will fall to us at #7; especially when you add additional players that other top 6 teams might be interested in - like Star Lotuleilei, Shariff Floyd, Geno Smith or even Tavon Austin. Things could go in any direction (including a couple of trades). Buckle up your chin straps.

NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8:00 pm ET. One thing we know already - the only away games that could remotely be considered "snow games" if scheduled after Halloween, would be Seattle (extremely unlikely). San Francisco (equally as unlikely) and Philadelphia (mensa-mensa - pray that we play them in the Fall).

Reading between the lines, it looks like Josh Cribbs' next physical will be scheduled a week or two after the Draft.

Quiet Before the Storm? -- Mon. April 15, 2013 -- There's only one more weekend between now and Draft Day. Usually by now, there's a flurry of rumors. Not so much this year., with most of the rumors involving free agent signings which could have a domino effect on how teams draft. Most of the FA activites involve one-year non-guaranteed contracts, with the veterans involved possibly serving as "roster place-holders" in case a team fails to fill a particular position via the draft.

A  lot of attention has been paid to the visits made by players to team HQ's, but it's tough to read any tea-leaves, because the same players are visiting everyone everywhere. Different teams use player visits differently - The Cardinals have interviewed just 20 prospects in Tempe (ranging from such high-profile prospects as Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah and 6 of the top QB prospects). Yet no offensive linemen have, to our knowledge, been interviewed in the Valley suggesting that the Cards did most of their research earlier (interviewing some players at the combine and pro days) and are using the AZ-interviews to fill in gaps in a player's resume. By contrast, the Eagles have interviewed over 65 prospects and the norm for most teams is somewhere around 40. My advice - Use the interview list to cherry-pick a few below-the-radar guys who visited the Valley (like Kniles Davis, Markus Wheaton or the TE Kasa) as "persons of interest", but I wouldn't read anything more into this.

The lack of rumors and gossip leading up to the draft seems to have affected the folks at NFL Network, who more and more are filling up their vacant air time with Top 100 and All Time lists of best players, best plays, weirdest coaches, worst nauseum. Memo to the suits at NFLN - The draft is pretty interesting; how about focusing more on players, teams, coaches and front offices (Here's a bright idea - you've already set up fantasy "war rooms" for each team. How about setting up fantasy meetings in those war rooms within the context of a giant 1, 2 or 3-round mock draft.)?

The Draft - Two Weekends Out -- Sat. April 13, 2013 - Another year has passed and the draft is almost upon us, but this draft is different in several ways: The Cards have a new GM and a new coaching staff with a different agenda and different views and policies toward winning. When there's stability in your organization, it becomes easier to read the minds of the key decision-makers (because you've seen them in action over a year, two years or three). You get a kind of 6th-sense about what Management considers "important" or what kind of players they prefer at various positions. Although Coach Arians and Steve Keim have seemed pretty forthright in making their views known, there's a tendency for NFL front offices"end the truth" more and more as they get closer to Draft Day. We'll just have to let their actions speak for themselves.

It's a confusing draft, because the teams with the top 5 or 10 picks have been pretty close-mouthed. (Usually by now, the team with the #1 pick will usually state it's intention and set the tone for the next few picks in the draft. The silence coming out of KC is deafening). The way it looks to me is that the Top 7 picks could very likely include 5 offensive linemen (Joeckel, Fisher, L Johnson, Warmack and Cooper) a couple of edge rushers (Jordan or Ansah), one or two nose tackles (Lotuleilei and Floyd) and possibly QB Geno Smith. By my count, that's 10 players any of who could go in the the top 7 (Make that 11 if you include Cardinal Fan Flavor of the Week, Barkevious Mingo.

Right now, I'd guess the odds are 60% the Cards - at #7 - will take an offensive linemen, 25% they'll draft an edge rusher, 5% they'll draft Lotuleilei and 10% they'll trade down no more than 3 or 4 spots.

Having been a long-time draft follower (I used to attend the draft regularly in the 1960's, 70's and 80's) , a few cautionary observations:

First, if you're participating in any mock draft contests, wait to complete your entry until the latest possible moment before deadline - for two reasons: (1) you don't want to be sandbagged by last-minute trades and (2) the local beat-writers often obtain last-minute insider information from the clubs they cover and from fellow beat-writers in other NFL cities. (It's always hilarious to see a flurry of mock draft activity on Draft Day where the same obscure defensive tackle from East Armpit State suddenly shows up on everyone's mocks somewhere around the 24th pick.

Second, if you enjoy putting together a 7-round mock for the Cardsor any other team that claims to use a Best Player Available (BPA) approach to the draft, prepare to be both (a) disappointed (because, during the course of the draft, a few players rated higher by the Cardinals will invariably fall through the cracks (because the boards of other teams are nowhere close to being identical) . But also be prepared to be overjoyed (because if the Cards are true to their board, they'll snap those guys up as "steals" rather than drafting along the logical lines of the mock draft scenario). This, by the way, is one method successful franchises use to regularly upgrade the talent-level of their rosters (They faithfully draft higher value players than projected for each pick.

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 04/30/2013