2 Days & Counting - Strange Rumors, Late Breaking etc..
April 27, 2016 - 10:47 am ET - You hear the strangest rumors; and - because false ones often get picked up and repeated - it's like being in a giant echo chamber filled with questionable info richoceting off its walls. We'll pass the rumors on as we get them, but caution you to (1) read the wordage carefully ("it wouldn't surprise me if" is not the same as "there's a rumor flying around that"). And (2) check the sources - are they reputable? Are they identified? If they're not identified by name, are they described as "a club official", "scout" etc.?
Here's some juicy Cardinal stuff floating around late yesterday:
Michael Floyd could be traded for picks or to move up (Source: unidentified Cardinal scout and another official via Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Interesting. Flies in the face of logic. We would have to receive an outrageous package of picks to make this worth considering).
Before the blockbuster Ram trade, ESPN's Mike Sando "thought it might be a good idea if the Cards traded Floyd for the Rams second round pick. (Source: Jess Root, ROTB. A media guy "thinking it might be a good idea" is not the same as a team actually considering it." Plus - trade renders it moot)
Cards are considering DT/DE Jihad Ward late in 1st Round (Source" Peter King, in his final ("sham-mockery" of a) mock, listed Ward as a "darkhorse first round pick behind Kelly. Ward is 95% off the radar screens of most other draft experts let alone a first round talent).)
Cards Targeting Corner (Source: Uncertain. Actual quote was that the Cards might consider a DB (That widens the pool to be considered quite a bit - since, in addition to corners like Apple, Alexander and Burns it would open the door to hybrid safeties like Su'a Cravens, Darian Thompson or TJ Green). The Arizona Republic recently published a lengthy recap of how various media people and draft experts view the Cardinal draft and seems to conclude that the Cards are targeting a DB. ).
Cards Targeting Defensve Ends in the 1st Round and would also like to add a safety. (Source: Tony Pauline of Draft Insider. He mentions Cravens and Thompson for the second round, but - at least for now - the Cards don't have a second round pick)
That's it for now. Stay tuned.
5 Days & Counting - Things to Look For...
April 24, 2016 - This is where the fun begins. Teams are typically finalizing strategy and putting out trade feelers (often leaked rumors by Team B that Team C plans to leapfrog Team A in order to steal a scarce positiion-commodity like a Paxton Lynch, Ezekial Elliott or Ryan Kelly). Sometimes the rumors are true. Other times, maybe not.
Usually, teams wait till on or about Draft Day to announce blockbuster deals (thereby rendering most mock drafts totally irrelevent). This year the Rams and Eagles vaulted to the top of the draft thru trades with Cleveland and Tennessee (and did so early enough for give mocksters plenty of time to adjust).
We're close enough to the draft for the heavy hitting media stars to weigh in with their mocks (They typically wait till the last possible minute to mine all the available information before committing to a final mock).
A few cautionary observations:
Most mocks are heavily dependent on perceived "team need." It's easier to scan a team's roster to determine position-hole than it is to read minds and guess its BPA (best plaer available) board looks like, so "need trumps BPA" at least when it comes to mocks. Yet most GM's will (truthfully or otherwise) maintain that they base their drafts on BPA.
It's become almost a cliche that "GM's and HC's lie."
Mocks are merely a snapshot of reporters, announcers and fans "feel" about what a team will (or should) do and not, in most cases, what the team actually thinks.
Beware of assuming a teams draft tendencies based on prior reputation. Oakland was said favor dominant athletes and ignore off-field issues. The Rams are headed for Hoillywood and supposedly want a franchise QB who can grab headlines. A USA Today mock had the Cards drafting Nkemdiche (because the Cards did so well with Tyrann Mathieu that they could be considered some sort of halfway house for wayward athletes -I think SK woud tend to take exception. Well, maybe in the past, you could count on Big Al preferring big, dumb, speedy types with jaded pasts and Jerry Jones rolling the dice on a hot-dog RB or receiver, but I think those days are pretty much over. (GM's who want to stay employed fall back on sound football management fundamentals).
I've always believed the draft includes a little bit of hanky panky involving the local media and the teams they cover. Get real; reputations (& possibly careers) are at stake. So if a GM or HC happens to like his local beat writer (or seeks to curry favor) he may let drop a couple of choice morsels of information that the writer can use to look smarter.
There are also certain national media superstars who "are close to" the managements of certain teams. I figure: "Maybe they know stuff."
So I scan the national and local pages on or about Draft Day to ferret out any inside info: Why does Conklin's name keep showing up next to Tennessee ? Given questions about his injury, why has Jack dropped like a stone (Or why hasn't Jack dropped like a stone)? Despite their need for OL help, local writers suddenly have the Giants pursuing an Edge guy.
Fun time - Maybe the best time of the year.
Tenn & Rams Trade Picks.
April 14, 2016 - Usually blockbuster trades at the top of the draft occur on or near Draft Day and screw up everyone's mock early on. This time, the Titans and Rams mercifully completed their trade two weeks early, giving every draftnick in Americal the chance to revise their mocks.
The Rams moved up to #1 and received Tennessee's 4th (#113) and 6th (#177) round picks in exchange for surrendering their 1st round pick (#15), two 2nds (#43 and #45) and a 3rd (#76) round pick this year and a 1st and 3rd round pick next year. (Recap: Rams exchange 6 picks over a two year period for 3 picks this year (including the top pick in the draft).
My guess is that, unless the Rams consider Ramsey, Bosa, Jack or Buckner "Supermen", the only player worth trading that much for - would be a QB and probably Wentz. But in the NFL, "you never know." (Irony is that the Cards are thought be scratching out a 100 or so trade value points to add a measley high 4th round pick (to replace the 2nd round pick they gave up for Chandler Jones (while the Rams and Titans are throwing picks around like Frisbees).
For the Cards, it's an interesting move because a division rival (the Rams) - after cleaning house at non-skilled positions (most notably Long and Laurinaitis) - has rolled the dice on putting a franchise QB in place while surrendering a net total of 3 picks that otherwise could have been used to rebuildi the rest of their roster. Seems like the move to LA and need to establish a broad fan-base might have something to do with the need to have a star QB. Stay tuned.
Two Weeks & Counting - Odds 'n Ends.
April 13, 2016 - A couple of observations: On the "plus side", TV coverage of the draft - riding the crest of technological innovation has improved markedly. There's an avalanche of player-info andit seems as though there are at least ten mocks published weekly by top experts. On "less positive side" - video production values "decorate" more than they inform." NFLN and ESPN Displays are hard to read and don't always compare apples to apples from player to player. Instead of covering all 31 teams (including the Cards) in a first round mock, coverage is often cut off after the top ten teams. And, even then, the nets don't dolly in close enough for viewers to actually read the names of teams and players being covered. But, instead of being overly picky, I guess I should be grateful for the expanded coverage - sure beats staring at a half-blank screen waiting for the crawls.
The Ins & Outs of "Trading Back"
One common scenario has the Cards, at Pick #29, trading back "a few spots" in order to regain the 2nd round pick relinquished in the Chandler Jones trade. Easier said than done. To illustrate, let's go to the Draft Trade Value Chart. (Note - There no longer is a single "chart" - the original one now takes various shapes & colors).
So here goes: The Cards have Pick #29. They receive an offer to exchange their pick to the Ravens for Baltimore's 5th (#36) pick in the second round plus an additional pick. What that additional pick would turn out to be is a key question. The way it works is: The difference between the #29 and #36 picks is worth 100 points on the Trade Value Chart. It shows that Pick #100 (by coincidence) happens to be worth 100 points. The closest pick Baltimore has to that pick is their 6th pick in the fourth round. This would change the Cardinal draft pick scenario to:
Current - #29, #92, #128, #167, #170, #205
New - #36, #92, #100, #128, 167, #170, #205
Net-net - The Cards trade back 7 spots to pick up a high fourth round pick. (Remember, their "regular picks" are all in the bottom-3 of each round they draft in so their new first pick might be considered a really, really late first round pick and their new #100 pick considered a really, really late 3rd round pick). Is gaining that high 4th round pick worth losing 7 spots to drop from the first to the high second round? My guess is that it would depend on whether Steve Keim feels that - at #29 - there are still 7 players he really likes still on his board (so that he's guaranteed at least one of them if he moves down to #36).
Ten prospects given a decent chance of making it to pick #36 in the second round might include: Kelly OC, Whitehair G-C, Westerman G-C, Garnett G-C, N Martin OC, D Jones OLB, Correa, OLB, Ogbah DE, S Davis FS, Killebrew SS. Plus we pick up that additional pick at #100. Hmmm).
(Note - Value Board scenario doesn't factor in the inclusion of supplemental picks).
Cards Follow Up Mathis with CJ2K.
Mar 18, 2016 - Two days after trading for their primo edge rusher and one day after signing a veteran OG known for his leadership, attitude and run blocking, the Cards welcomed back to the roost, Chris Johnson (who was testing the FA market elsehwere). rWe like the signing because we believe you have to have more depth than you think you need at certain "high-collision" positions (like RB and NT). CJ joins David Johnson and Andre Ellington to form the Cardinal Top 3 RB corps. Nice depth/Terrific talent. Way to go, Steve K.
Cards Sign Mathis
Mar 16, 2016 - One day after trading for their primo edge rusher , the Cards replaced the traded guard (Cooper) with 13-year veteran Evan Mathis (most recently with the Broncos). With their other starting guard (Larsen) unsigned, the Cards were exposed big time at the guard position. Mathis brings quality and experience and is expected to start on the right side. Looks like another superb move by GM Steve Keim.
It appears that, with Lyle Sendlein and Ted unlikely to re-sign, there is major void at center. The rest of the starting line appears to have settled on Veldheer (LT); Iupati (LG) "Unknown) (C); Mathis (RG); Humphries (RT) with Watford available to provide depth at either guard. With voids at starting center and backup guard & tackle, look for the Cards to remain aggressive in free agency as well as the draft (which is , incidently, deep in quality developable offensive linemen).
Cards Trade Cooper for Chandler Jones
Mar 15, 2016 - I was quietly minding my own business - checking out Gil Brandt's Pro Day reports on myI-Pad with one eye on NFL Live on my TV screen when Trey Wingo suddenly chimes in with: "We have a blockbuster trade to announce!" (Could it involve the Cards? Nah)!!! - er Yahhh!!!
It involved the Cards and the Patriots - the Cardinals giving up OG Jonathon Cooper and their 2nd round draft pick for edge-rushing dynamo, Chandler Jones (who had 36 sacks in 55 career games)..
Jones is known for (1) almost supernatural pass rushing moves and (2) a bizarre incident last year reportedly involving Jones showing up shirtless and semi-coherent from "something" he ingested (thought by some to be pills or artifical weed).
GM Steve Keim (& I'm assuming HC Bruce Areans have grown a bit more tolerant of young players said to have learned their lesson and hoping for a "second chance" (Translation: Tyrann Mathieu). Chandler fits that profile. (We have to hope that Steve's and Bruce's faith that Chandler remains clean will be justified.
Meanwhile, the Cards "risked it for no biscuit" a few years ago when they drafted an OG (Cooper) high in the draft (considered a no-no in GM circles). Much to their dismay -everything that could go wrong... did. There was the series of injuries (including a broken leg). In addition from keeping Cooper off the playing field, it also disrupted his development; specifically his transition to the pros. SO evidently, the Cards finally bit the bullet and parted with Cooper for an edge rusher with a red flag in his background.
They also surrendered a late 2nd round draft pick. I hate giving up draft picks for nothing, Only time will tell whether we overpaid for Jones or whether we received fair value or, in fact, "stole" a 26-year old veteran pass rusher.
One thing I did notice was that, in the blogosphere, there was a lot of whining by non-Cardinal fans about "why isn't our GM more aggressive or pro-active - like Steve Keim.
Way to go, SK. ("Risk it/Biscuit")!
Is the Draft Really That Important?
Feb 20, 2016 - The draft used to be the big event in the 52-week annual pro football cycle - bigger than Christmas. Bigger than the Super Bowl. Now (at least at this instant), the draft is no longer the big deal it used to be.
I'm not so sure why. Certainly, the scouting of players, analyzing of each team's strengths and weaknesses and the chance to play Swami and predict the future and see how you stack up against other friends and rivals is not without its high points.
My guess: "Blame it on BA and Steve Keim." Since they've been here, they've found ways to parlay what, at best, were were mediocre draft locations, into an impressive list of young rookies - many of whom were obscure or unknown. They trolled such major football factories like Pitttsburgh State and William & Mary. They plumbed the post-draft pool of undrafted free agents. They put together a coaching staff headed by gray-beards with centuries of experience to teach and develop the young players they bringt in.
And - - I can't prove this but - my theory is that somewhere stashed in an obsure, hidden room deep in Cardinal Hq. is a white-board chart which outlines detailed "job descriptions" for each spot on the 53-man active Cardinal roster. Everything from the ideal length of an outside pass rusher to the chip on the shoulder of a road-grader LG.. I can't prove it, but I believe the Cards have a master plan for bringing in the kinds of players they feel they can win with.
Which begs the question: "If they're that good at finding, evaluating and developing young players (i.e. pulling promising but unheralded prospects out of their proverbial butts), who needs the draft?"
The obvious answer is that the draft is the most important of an array of tools GM's and head coaches use to stack an NFL roster. Good drafts are better than bad ones.
Regardless, I must admit to approaching this draft - closer to my 80th birthday than Year 70 - with more than a little smugness and compacency: Most Cardinal die-hards are being sucked into putting together their mocks before the Combine has taken place. (Since when has "need" had anything to do with the way the Cardinals draft anyway)? I have no idea who the Cardinals like or whom they'll draft. BA, SK and the entire Cardinal organization will go out and "find a way." In BASK we trust.