Cards Add 8 to Practice Squad
Sept. 4, 2017 - All familiar names and faces, but no Capi; no Bazzie (yet - there are still 2 unfilled spots on the PS, and some room for jockeying up and down the regular and PS rosters). Practice Squadders (at least for now) are: WR Carlton Agudosi, OG Dorian Johnson, CB Ryan Lewis, S Harlin Miller, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, RB James Summer, DT Pasoni Tasini and ILB Scooby Wright.
Cutdown from 89 to 53 Nets Some Surprises
Sept. 3, 2017 - Reaching the 53-man roster limit wasn't painless. A couple of players (Capi and Bazzie) who appeared to have played their way onto the final roster didn't make the cut. Some others (Agudosi, Hogan, Ross, D Johnson, Carter, Leone) appeared to be "this close" to earning a roster spot. Expect to see a bit of jugging on the roster's back end - i.e. the Cards cut 4 receivers who may have been rated close together in talent; figuring that at least one would clear waivers and they could sign one. Complete list of cutees is as follows:
QB T Knight,
RB Chris Johnson, James Summers,
WR Carlton Agudosi, Aaron Dobson***, Krishawn Hogan, Chris Hubert, Jeremy Ross
TE Gerald Christian, Ricky Seals-Jones, Hakeem Valles
OL Dorian Johnson, , Kaleb Johnson, Jonathan McLaughlin, Givens Price, Cole Toner
DL Peli Anau, David Moala, Ed Stinson**, Pasoni Tasini
LB Alex Bazzie, Cap Capi, Zaviar Gooden, Jarvis Jones*, Tre’Von Johnson*, Ryan Langford, Terence Waugh, Scooby Wright
CB Jarrell Carter, Gump Hayes, Ryan Lewis, Sojourn Shelton
S Ironhead Gallon, Harlan Miller
ST Richie Leone P
* Injury Settllement. **Waived/Injured, ***Injured Reserve
RB TJ Logan remains on the active roster for now, but is likely to be put on recallable IR effective Sunday. Released players from various teams clearing waivers can be re-signed to the 10-man practice squad (or presumably a 53-man roster should there be room (either existing or created).
Our Annual Whine About Preseason TV Coverage, Blackouts Yada Yada
Aug. 22, 2017 - Just finished watching the 4th preseason contest vs. the Falcones (3rd if you eliminate the HOF contest). When you're a DirecTV subscriber in the Northeast, the way it works is: You locate and record a NFL Network replay of the game - usually at 2;00 or 3:00 in the morning. In our case, NFL Net picked up the local Arizona feed for the first two contests (Oakland and Chicago) and Saturday's local broadcast from Atlanta (I don't know yet about Thursday's game in Denver). Sometimes there is additional local Cardinal game-coverage on FoxSportsAZ, but, for out-of-market DirecTV vieweers, it's kind of hit or miss (more about this later).
As we all know, preseason games have little or no value other than to provide us hard-core fans with close-up coverage of the 90-man "salmon-run" upstream to secure a spot on the 53-man roster or on the team's practice squad.
For various reasons, the NFL Net coverage of the Cards win vs. Atlanta left me pretty unfilled. Don't get me wrong - I'm not ungrateful. (I grew up during a period when we were happy to get Cardinal updates on the ESPN crawl at the bottom of our TV screen). It's just that - despite all the technological bells & whistles - there was very little play-by-play information from Atlanta about who carried the ball, who made the tackle or who whiffed on the fake.
The reasons for this are partly (but not totally) structural: In Atlanta, they were opening their sexy, new stadium and the local tv guys bent over backward to give it all the hype it deserved. So there was an overlong interview with Falcon owner, Arthur Blank (& Ms. Blank) and endless descriptions of the exotic sandwiches available at the gazillion restaurants lining the stadium. But llittle player info - both for Falcon players and even less-so about Cardinal players.
Part of this problem was "self-inflicted." (Memo to Cardinal rookies - "If you want fans,, teammates, coaches and players to recognize you", make sure your hair doesn't hide your name, bro").
Also - in order to make each game "fit" within each alotted time-slot, NFL Net edited-out a certain amount of footage. (Why they chose to edit out actual game-footage and keep in a lot of the time-out/sideline fluff is a mystery to me. But that's what they did in Atlanta).
OK, back to FoxSportsAZ's blackout policy. It's weird - For several years (on DirecTV in the Northeast), they've aired Preseason Game #1 (in this case #2 vs. Oakland) without blacking it out. But come Game #2 (as if someone suddenly reminded them to do it), they blacked out out-of-town TV coverage of the remaining preseason games. For a hard core fan, to see a game one week and then have the next game blacked out is crazy-making).
A few years back, I contacted the decision-makers for DirecTV, FoxSportsAZ and the team. Aside from the usual amount of finger-pointing, the best reason they could give me was that buried deep in the tv contract verbage for preseason games was a blackout clause. But it makes no sense - the conventional logic governing media blackouts is that "local advertisers" will suffer." (How so? How does my watching a Cardinal game in New Jersey have anything to do with TV ratings, fast-food sales or used car volume in Greater Phoenix)? My only logical conclusion - It's not worth the time and energy for the DirecTV, FoxSportsAZ or Cardinal suits to pull out the contract-file, locate the offending blackout verbage and fix it.
End of rant.
So how did we do?
May 4, 2017 - Yeah, we know - It takes 3 years to evaluate a draft. But everybody wants to know: How did we do? This is a good time to make an important point: Take away poor special teams play and we would have reached the playoffs. Period. (The Cardinals were highly-ranked in just about every other aspect of the game). While several players left for greener pastures in the offseason, the Cardinals either neutralized or surpassed the impacts of those roster losses or became even stronger (the only questions being whether the production of our older players will remain at a high level or whether it will tail off).
Here's a post-draft/post UDFA assessment position by position:
Cards are betting that Palmer and Stanton still have one more year of playoff-level talent left in the proverbial tank. There are some rumblings that they might cover that bet by bringin in another veteran (they're said to be talking to Blaine Gabbert). Could leave Zac Dysert odd man out (unless, despite getting limited snaps, he can prove otherwise).
Condition: David Johnson figures to get a sizeable slice of the action. K Williams, Andre Ellington (considered a "receiver" by BA) and rookie scatback, TJ Logan figure to be passing-down specialist. Thumper role is expected to be nailed down by 247 lb Elijhaa Penny. In terms of size and skill-set, not apparent in the Cardinal RB room is a backup clone to Johnson.
Returning will be Fitz, Jaron Brown, Smoke Brown & JJ Nelson - a pretty good nucleus (a nice veteran blend of speed, hands & root running but absent the big, physical "jump ball" presence of Michael Floyd). Cards drafted 6-2 Chad Wiliams who's expected to fill that role. Also part of the group of 14 receivers are three (Hogan, Agudosi and Bundy) who are 6-3 or taller. If Cards keep 6 receivers (& C Williams and Ellington survive) there will be no room on the active roster for additional wideouts.
Cards didn't draft any, but did pick up UDFA's Steven Wroblewski and Ricky Seals-Jones. Assumption is that a healthy Jermaine Gresham will deliver on the potential expected of him when we first signed him. Niklas is close to being considered a draft bust. Everyone else on the 6-man unit is on the raw & untested side.
Starting five is pretty much set with: Humphreys - Iupati - Shipley - Boehm - Veldheer. There's very good backup depth/versatility; most notably rookie OG D Johnson (who has an outside shot at starting at RG), Cole Toner, John Wetzel and Tony Bergstrom. Don't discount some of the others who are part of this 16-man group.
Defensive Interior Line
Cards lost the 6-7 presence of Calais Campbell (who was just blossoming into his own). But everyone else on this underrated unit will be back - Rucker, Mauro, Stinson, Peters, X Williams, Gunter. It is hope that Nkemdiche's proverbial "light-bulb" has gone on and he will live up to pre-draft expectations unfulfilled a year ago. Cards have high hopes for Pierre. The undrafted Bevins, at 6-6 could be just the man to replace Campbell.
Cards are blessed with two bookend double-digit sackmeisters in OLB's Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Cards lost both starting ILB's, but refilled both voids - with the return of prodigal son Carlos Dansby and 1st round draft pick Hasaan Reddick. Dansby is a known leader with (we hope) at least one more year worth of high-quality play in his tank. Reddick is a tackling machine who brings sideline-to-range, versaitlity and coachability. Hybrid $LB Deone Buccanon is also a playmaking part of this stronmg defensive unit. Cards also signed FA Jarvis Jones (said to be a better anchor against the run than he is a pass rusher. Other members of this 13-man unit aren't without talent and are waiting for their time in the sun.
Least stable (but most exciting) of any position on the Cardinal roster. Starting Cardinal secondary in the off-season could be described as "Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and bunch of other guys." Since then, they adresssed their safety problem by signing FA veteran leader Antoine Bethea and trading up in the draft to select S Budda Baker. Baker is simillar to Mathieu in size and skill-set - he certainly could be considered the perfect backup to the oft' injured Badger but is considered too good not to start - either next to Mathieu or along side Bethea. Still unresolved is the #2 CB opposite Peterson. Looks like leading contenders would include Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, Elle Bouka and 6th round draft pick Brandon Ford. All have their strengths & weaknesses -- may the best dude win.
Shaky a year ago and overhauled this year, but will remain an open issue until proving otherwise. K Chandler Catanzaro (who was far from 100% reliable a year ago) has been replaced by AARP member Phil Dawson (known for his consistent accuracy and clutch play but not so much for the strength of his leg). P Drew Butler is no longer with the club and the starting punter slot will either go to Richie Leone or Matt Wile. Aaron Brewer returns as our holder. Cards would like more production and explosiveness from their kick and punt-returners and (we're assuming) are not too comfortable risking injury to Peterson. T TJ Logan was drafted in part to add more of a home-run element to the return game. If you skim over the resumes of both our draft picks and UDFA's, a common thread is "special teams play." Expect an upgrade of our coverage teams.
Official UDFA List Announced
May 2, 2017 - Every year - as predictable as the spring weather - an early list of undrafted free agents is made public by a fans website, and there are always a few players omitted from the list...or shouldn't have been there in the first place. If the official Cardinal list of UDFA's is accurate, QB Antonio Pipkin, Wr Seth Coate, OL Andy Kwan, OG Brandon Clemons, DL Darrien Howard and OLB Ryan Watson should be off the list and TE Steven Wrobelewski and safeties Drico Johnson and Cyril Noland-Lewis should be added in. Lawrence Elliot was thought to have been a mini-camp invite, but wasn't included on the Card UDFA list.
"Sunday After" - No QB but Cards fill in other roster holes
April 30, 2017 - The draft is over and the preliminary list of UDFA's are being leaked to the public (subject to last minute change). Now that most of the heavy lifting is over, let's look at how we did to address our personnel objectives going into the draft:
Despite all the buzz,
we didn't draft anyone (wrong time, wrong value, no one available we'd die for). We did sign an intriguing UDFA in Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin
BA wanted a speedy home run hitter in the receiving, outside run and return game - and got one in Logan.
Added Chad Williams - to fill Michael Floyd's shoes
Although there was little if any fan buzz about strengthening the O-line, the Cards drafted a guard (Johnson) who, if heathy, is considered a 2nd round value and a tackle (Holden) who has the prototypical size and is considered "very smart"
Our desire to replace Calais Campbell with another 6-6 or 6-7 D-lineman went unaddressed in the draft but possibly addressed in free agency (Keep an eye on 6-6 Collin Bevins)
Cards used their #13 pick to draft a mobile, agile and hostile "big dawg" to (we'd guess) line up next to Karlos Dansby inside.
At first we thought the position-need was unaddressed until we heard that Rudy Ford had been working out at CB prior to being drafted and that BA planned to use him at that position.
We had too voids to fill at safety since Jefferson and Swearinger left for greener pastures. The addition of Bethea addressed one of the two needs. Budda Baker (aka Honey Badger Lite) will do just fine at the other safety/nickel corner spot
Day 3 - Cards Draft OT & Return/Passing Down Specialist in 5th
April 29 - 5pm ET -
Cards combined their two 7th round picks and traded up into near the bottom of the sixth to select Auburn Safety Rudy Ford. Although he is listed as a safety, he's been working out at CB and that's how BA plans to use him.
Day 3 - Cards Draft OT & Return/Passing Down Specialist in 5th
April 29 - 3pm ET -
With pick #157, the Cards continued to bolster their OL by drafting Vanderbilt OT William Holden. The tackle is said to lack elite feet but should be effective in the run game as a RT. Cards have the #179 pick. They still have not addressed the objective of adding QB strength (with Peterman and Kelly still undrafted). S Lorenzo Jerome is no longer available.
Cards came back at Pick #179 to select return specialist TJ Logan out of North Carolina. He only weighs 190 but is one of those dynamic game-breakers on returns/screens and said to have "electric feet." Apparently, you can bring him down with one hand - but you don't want to miss because he'll be gone in the blink of an eye.
Barring trades Cards will be out of business until late in the 7th round where they have two picks. Then it's "gentlemen start your engines" as the teams scramble to sign undrafted rookies.
Day 3 - Cards Skip QB Need - Choose Guard w Medical Issue
April 29 - 1pm ET -
Team medics are underrated. Just one example: Dorian Johnson was 3rd-ranked OG according to Lindy's and PFW. But, according to Mike Mayock, medical tests uncovered a liver condition and Johnson's stock apparently plummeted. Cards took a chance, rolled the dice and just maybe have an answer at right guard for the upcoming season. Just an assumption, but we doubt S Kein and M Bidwill would have drafted Johnson without first clearing it with the docs. That's why a first-rate medical and training staff can contribute to winning as much or more (though a lot different) as a practice squad player.
Inn selecting Johnson, the Cards passed on highly regarded mid-round QB's, Dobbs and Peterman and one of my favorites, Lorenzon Jerome, a DB out of St Francis College of PA. Cards need to plug a depth gap at RG in the wake of Evan Mathis' retirement. CW among the media experts is that Johnson (if healthy) should immediately compete for the starting job.
Day 2 - Cards "Too Timid"/"Too Aggressive"
April 29 2017 9:20 am ET - The Cards entered the second day of the draft accused of being "too timid" in not trading up to draft a bue chip player (most notably a QB). Steve Keim then traded up (from #45 to #36) to secure the services of sawed-off safety, Budda Baker (earning caustic commentary from the peanut gallery - i.e. "too small"..."drops interceptions", "who's he?" etc.). Well folks, we loved the pick (Budda was #1 on our opening Day 2 Board). Reason - He physically resembles the Honey Badger. He plays like the Honey Badger. Should the Badger go down, we won't have to overhaul - what by most standards - is a pretty unorthodox defense. Plus - he'll fit in nicely next to Bethea in deep patrol to fill the void left by Tony Jefferson.
As much as we loved the Budda-pick, Keim's 3rd down moves left us edgy and a bit grumpy. With plenty of really good players (including Kpassagnon, Q Wilson, Melinfonwu and a few QB's who figured to be on BA's "short list") we approached Pick #77 with fingers crossed. Would this be the point in the draft where we grabbed Webb, Kizer or even Dobbs. As pick after pick came off the board, it looked like we'd have our pick of a half-dozen solid choices. Instead - the giant TRADE display appeared, and the Bears walked off with Pick #77, and we had to cool our jets (no pun intended) until Pick #98 (watching Moreau, Webb and Tankersely roll off the board). Dobbs was still available when we picked, but SK opted to select Grambling wideout Chad Williams - a big, physical slow-stridingh wideout not known for his twitchiness. Like so many being drafted these days, Williams has off-the-field issues - notably a weed/weapons arrest - as part of his background.
Day 3 promises to be interesting: Barring trades the Cards are 8 picks away from their 4th round selection at #115. Dobbs is still in play (as is Peterman). Two other remaining players who caught our eye - CB Corn Elder and S/CB Lorenzo Jerome. Question of the hour - If the Cards want Dobbs or Peterman badly enough, would they be willing to use an extra pick to trade up to make sure they got one of them?
Cards have two picks in the 5th round (#157 and #179), skip round six and then wrap things up with two picks (#221 and #231) in round seven.
"Day After": Pick of Reddick expected. Day 2 promises to be just as huge for Cards
April 27, 2017 Midnight - It was quite a ride - QB's were snapped up early in the Draft, starting with SF at #2 trading down one spot with Chicago who then leaped on Trubisky (Didn't see that coming). Then, at Buffalo's #10 spot, KC traded up to hijack Mahomes (Didn't see that coming either). Then, at the #12-hole (our last worry if we were really in love with Deshaun Watson, Cleveland bailed out and traded its pick to Houston who, with no hesitation, snapped up Watson. This left the Cardinals with pretty much their pick of defensive standouts - Hooker, Foster, Reddick, Allen, Howard, Peppers. To us, if we decided to pass on Hooker, it would come down to Reddick (whose stock was steadily rising) vs. Foster (who had "issues" that got him kicked out of the Combine and whose recovery from shoulder surgery became a last-minute real or imagined issue).
Cards had been rumored to seeking to trade up into the bottom of the first round in order to grab a QB (possibly Kizer or Webb). Didn't happen, but we could see the Cards making a move early on Day 2 to land their QBOF.
The addition of Reddick leaves the Cards in pretty good shape at LB but with work to do at cornerback and safety - plus, of course, the proverbial "800 lb gorilla in the room" - a QBOF. We were tempted to adjust our Day 2 Board (since LB is no longer a priority), but decided to grit our teeth and stay true to our original Board going into Day 2. Players of interest to the Cardinals:
QB Webb, Dobbs, Kizer, Peterman
WR Smith-Schuster, Zay Jones, Kupp,
OL - Lamp, Feeney, Robinson, Elflein
DL - Kpassagnon, McDowell
CB - Q Wilson, Awuzie, K King, Tankersley, S Jones, Douglas, Moreau, Tabor
S - B Baker, Melinfonwu, Jerome, May
I'm especially intrigued with the brains size and potential of Dobbs, Kizer and Webb (but we may have to trade up to get any of the 3). The size of Smith-Schuster would fill the void left by the departure of Floyd. B Baker reminds us of a rookie version of Tyrann Mathieu. Melinfonwu has the size, athletic measurables and potential. Jerome (another Eastern PA gem) impressed us with post season play but might have to wait till a later round. Any of the corners would fill a glaring need. Still another Eastern PA sleeper is Kpassagnon ready-made to fill the specialized role of Calais Campbell.
Problem is - we can't draft 'em all. Sit tight.
"Day Of": Unpredictabilty the Watchword:
April 27, 2017 Noon - Usually by now, a few hard facts are beginning to trickle in. The major draft experts and local beat guys have issued their final mocks. A couple of teams have stated their intentions. There may even have been a trade or two made public. Not so this year. Even Cleveland at #1 is backtracking on their Myles Garrett "lock" and playing coy about the possibility of a QB (Standard trade-down ploy?). SF had been rumored to favor Trubisky at #2, but they've mentioned a bevy of players and positions (sounding like they'd say anything to promote a trade-down. How the top 4 or 5 teams actually draft/deal will significantly change the way the Draft unfolds and right now, that's nearly impossible to predict 8 hours out.
If there was one major story going into the Draft, it would be the number of last-minute blemishes on the resumes of a half-dozen top defensive prospects; including Peppers, Foster and Conley. At the very least, these issues raise questions that will need answering. At worst, they could mean a player's draft stock will drop - possibly a couple of rounds and Boards will need to be restacked. I see Foster dropping to Detroit at #21 but Peppers and Conley falling out of the 1st round altogether.
I think medical/msychological red flags may cause Ramczyk and Bolles to be drafted a half-dozen or so picks later. Possible surprises could involve Kizer going to the Steelers at #30, Samuels (considered a poor man's McCaffery) being snapped up by KC at #27 and Mixon (whose previous transgressions now considered "old news") being snapped up by the Packers at #29.
I've gone back and forth predicting the Cardinals at #13 and quaking in my boots about the possibility of Mahomes (high upside but a high-risk "gunslinger). I was high on Foster until he"OD'd on water." I loved Reddick's back story (a rags to riches tale made-to-order for Steve Keim and BA). Wideout Corey Davis seemed to be the cleanest player on our board. But, in the end, I opted for QB Deshaun Watson (should he fall to us) because he fit the BA job requrement of being "a leader of men." If Watson is off our board at #13, I'd consider either Foster (if all his issues are satisfactorily addressed) or Reddick. (An interesting sideline - there is such strong media sentiment for the Cards selecting Mahomes that both Charley Casserly and Mike Mayock have predicted late 1st/early 2nd round trades where the Cards move up to grab Mahomes. We don't see it, but it makes you wonder: "What do Charley and Mike know that makes them projectt Mahomes as a Cardinal?"
That's it for now. I'll be back if and when there's anything new to report.
Scoping Out the 2017 Schedule:
April 21, 2017 - Like clockwork - one week before the 2017 Draft - next Fall's schedule was released. The first thing we look for when picking it up is to determine (1) when the BYE week is, (2) the number of winter-weather games we might be subject to whether unbalanced intervals between games give the Cards or their opponents any kind of advantage. (One that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Oct. 1 home game vs. SF - Niners enjoy a 10-game break after a Thurs. night contest vs. the Rams. Cards will be coming off a MNF contest and have just 6 days to prepare for the Niners). In terms of potential "snow days", we play in Washington Dec 17. Washington is not known for its blizzards but can occasionally get pretty funky in Dec. Not sure about Houston (We play there Nov. 19 so the odds figure to be quite slim). We couldn't ask for a better time for our BYE week (midway thru our season, Week #8).
Sun. Sep. 10 - @ Lions - 1:00p
We play an early-Sun. game in Detroit to open the season.
Sun. Sep 17- @ Colts. - 1:00p
Another early-Sun. game, this time in Indianapolis....Old Home Week for BA and some of his staff. Cards coming off: Road game with Detroit. Colts coming off: Rams in their opener in LA
Mon. Sep. 25 - Cowboys - 8:30p
We open our home season with a MNF contest vs. Dac Prescott-led Dallas. Cards coming off: road game in Indy 8 days ago. Dallas coming off: road game vs. Denver 8 days ago
Sun. Oct. 1 - Niners - 4:05p
Cards coming off home opener vs. Dallas 6 days ago. Niners coming off 10 day hiatus after hosting Rams on a Thurs. night.
Sun. Oct. 8 - @ Eagles - 1:00p
Cards travel to Philly for still another early-Sun. contest. (Old stomping ground for BA and SK). Cards coming off home contest with Niners 7 days ago, Eagles coming off away game in LA vs. Chargers.
Sun.Oct. 15 - Tampa Bay - 4:05p
Cards coming off early-Sun road game in Philly. TB is our second opponent coming off a 10-day break (after a Thurs nite contest vs. New England)
Sun. Oct. 22 - @ Rams - 1:00p
The Game in London. (We're not quite sure how the time-zone thingy works out for both clubs. Cards are coming off a home game vs. a well-rested TB. Rams are coming off a road contest with Jags.
- Nov. 5 - @ Niners - 4:05p
Cards are coming off their BYE. Niners coming off a road game in Philly.
Thu. - Nov. 9 - Seattle - 8:25p
Cards host Seahawks with just 4-day's rest. Seattle also coming off a home game vs. Wash with 4-days between games.
Sun. - Nov. 19 - @ Houston - 1:00p
Cards travel to Houston for an unusual early-Sun. contest. Cards playing with 10 day'a rest after hosting Seattle. Texans played Rams in LA a week ago.
Sun. - Nov. 26 - Jacksonville - 4:25p
Cards host Jags after a normal 7-day interval after playing in Houston. Jags played in Cleveland 7 days ago.
Sun. - Dec. 3 - Rams - 4:25p
Cards coming off home game vs. Jags. Rams coming off home game vs, Saints. Both had the normal 7-days between games.
Sun. - Dec. 10 - @ - Tennessee - 4:05p
Cards coming off home game vs. Rams. Titans coming off: home game vs. Houston. Interval Between Games: Both teams had the normal 7-days.
Sun. Dec. 17 - @ Washington - 1:00p
Still another early-Sunday road game on the East Coast. Cards coming off a home game vs. Tennesee last Sun. Wash played vs. Chargers a week ago.
Sun - Dec. 24 - Giants - 4:25p
Christmas Eve game with a Giant team who could still be in the thick of the playoff hunt. Cards played in Washington a week ago. Giants are coming off what figures to be a tough division contest vs. Philly last Sun.
Sun. Dec. 31 - @ Seattle - 4:25p
Great way to slide into New Years Eve. If the season is as tightly contested as we think it will be, this will be a tough way to end it - on the road in Seattle. Cards hosted Giants a week ago. Seahawks played in Dallas last Sunday.
Ten Days Out
April 19, 2017 - With the Draft is a week & a half away, we enter the period when members of the sports media start to call in chips gathered from League and sources they can then use to make themselves look smart. This is when teams are said to leak drafting strategies, pending trades and, of course, any last minute dirt that can hurt a player's draft stock so that he's available for drafting later down the food chain.
This season, we're hearing a lot about Jonathan Allen's broken neck, Reuben Foster's shoulders & personality red flags. After we heard that perhaps none of the top QB prospects were worth drafting in the first round, there have been a flurry of rumors of late suggesting that several teams are trying to move up into the top 10 to grab a QB. Add to this an avalanche of mock drafts (sometimes a series of mocks from the same "expert") and what you end up with is an avalanche of data; much of which is mostly "smoke." (It's gotten so wild and wooly that BA and other spokespeople are now being accused of "telling the truth in order to fake out the media").
As for the Cardinals, you get the feeling that they've created a narrative they want the media to buy into: i.e. "The forces of nature lean toward the Cardinals taking a QB at #13 and that QB is likely to be Patrick Mahomes. (In contrast to what seems to be BA's ideal QBOF - Big Dude... Verticall... Pocket Guy... Deep Accuracy (Chunk Guy - Mahomes profiles more as a Playmaker....Improviser...Big Arm...Threat Outside the Pocket but Undisciplined... Inconsistent.
BA says there are 5 or 6 NFL arms in this Draft class (but also goes on to say that "having a big arm doesn't necessarily mean the prospect is "a leader of men" who can command respect in the huddle - something BA values). Keim outlined a few scenarios the Cards might be considering: (a) trading up to, say, #9 to get the guy they want (it could be a QB). (b) trading down to, say #22 (where they could conceivably draft their QB at a fairer value-point and pick up an extra pick or (c) standing pat and possibly grabbing a QB if he represented fair-value at #13.
Not mentioned by SK but part of overall League chatter concerned some teams taking a longer-range view - trading up from the early-second round into the late 1st round in order to gain an extra contract year (and giving a young QBOF an extra year to develop before his contract ran out). At #45, Cards are at the bottom cusp of "early round one" and at a competitive disadvantage with other teams seeking to trade up and might have to overpay in an extra pick or even a player in order to get the QB they really want.
So much for the QB buzz. What about other Cardinal options. Well, BA and SK say they are "Best Player Available" drafters (although they might opt to fill a need in case of ties & near-ties on their Board). We see at least an 85% overlap of "need" and "best-athlete." There are a wide variety of roster-positions that could use more depth. At the top of the Needs Lst are (1) a big wideout (Floyd replacement), (2) FS and SS, (3) ILB and (4) QB.
The Cardinal Board thru #13 will probably include wideouts, C Davis and M Williams, tight end Howard, ILB's Foster, Reddick, DT Allen, corner Lattimore and safeties Adams, Hooker and Peppers and possibly a QB or two but we don't know which one.
If this all sounds confusing, it's because it probably is (and the Card FO probably likes it that way.
Note - What the Cardinals eventually do will be a function of what the teams in front of them do. Latest speculation has Cleveland (who picks 1 & 12) drafting Garrett with Pick #1 and then packaging other picks to move up from #12 to grab QB Mitchell Trubisky. (Which QB's are off the Board when the Cardinals pick may have a big impact on who they pick).
So there it is - fasten your seat belts.
One Month Out
March 27, 2017 - One month to go and a few observations. First, NFL Network appears to be all-in on the draft and are devoting 2+ hours daily to Draft-related content (especially the Combine, Pro Days & player-evauation). Mix all this in with enhanced web-content from NFL.com and inside info reposted on ASFN and other forums and we've got an embarrassment of riches - a far cry from "back in the day" when we had to sneak into the NFL Draft at a NYC hotel on our lunch room or sweated out the ESPN bottom-of-the-screen crawl to get updates.
From a Cardinals standpoint - it's pretty clear after the sweet-spot of free-agency that (a) we're down one large receiver, (b) hurting at right guard, (c) would love to draft a legitimate QBOF, (d) need to fill the hole at DL vacated by Calais Campbell, (f) would like to add youthful dynamism at ILB, (g) don't have any answers yet at #2 corner and (h) took a significant hit when we lost safeties, Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger. This, in turn, has created an "any thing can happen" approach to the Cardinal draft.
Latest rumor has the Cards trying out all the top QB's with Patrick Mahomes II receiving extra special attention from the Cardinal FO and making him the lastest fan-favorite flavor of the month. Cards are also said to be intrigued by ILB Reuben Foster (Note - the Indianapolis hospital worker incident has evidentallly been addressed). We've seen unconfirmed reports indicating the Cardinal front office feels that the Cards will be able to address roster needs at CB, S, WR etc. later on in the draft.
My take - I don't know (1) which QB's (if any) BA has targeted to possibly be our QBOF, (2) what info is legit and (3) what's merely a smoke-screen aimed at ginning up a trade (possibly "up" to land a targeted QB or "down" to set the stage for packaging a couple of picks to trade back up for a lower-ranked targeted QB). I do think that - if the right QB is still on the Cardinal Board at #13 (My guess: Mahomes or Watson), Steve Keim will leap on that puppy. If not, SK will stick fairly closely to a BPA approach which presumes a high probability that the Best Athlete will coincidentally address a roster need. Certainly, based on what we know, Foster has to be considered "in the mix for our #13 pick, but so too should safeties, Peppers, Hooker and Adams as well as big physical receivers, Corey Davis and Mike Williams. And don't forget the possibility that we might try to trade down for an additional pick or two - this draft is deep in very good, but not necessarily elite players to stock up on.
As the draft moves toward our #45 and $77 picks, keep an eye on two or 3 QB's: Davis Webb of Cal, Josh Dobbs of Tenn and Nathan Peterman of Pitt. QB's tend to be overdrafted and the Cards (depending on how the FO and coaching staff feels about them) could take a flyer on any of them before the end of Day 2.
That's it for now. Just remember that anyone who tells you they know - one month out -how the Draft will unfold "don't know diddly." We're all guessing.
March 10, 2017 - Cards lost the Trifecta - Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson an DJ Swearinger are all heading to supposedly greener pastures. This leaves the Cardinals thin at safety and missing a dynamic defen linemen. But that doesn't mean that the Cards were comatose - they signed FA SS Antoine Bethea and reportedly close to agreements with K Phil Dawson and former Cardinal LB (& fan fave) Karlos Dansby. (Note - the signing of Dawson probably means the end of the trail for current K Chandler Catanzaro, who had his roller-coaster moments last season).
All Three pickups can be considered "elder-statesmen" who bring pros and cons to the Cardinal roster: First, there's the old "gas in the tank" argument (but all three posted impressive numbers this past season). On the flip side, they're all considered "team leaders" and good for team culture. (This is especially important with Bethea at SS - where communication at the deep end of the secondary is vital to the overall defensive scheme). Bethea and BA have a relationship going back to their days with the Colts. This will Dansby's 3rd rodeo with the Cardinals.
Can Cardinal fans expect more news? Probably not, but you never know.
March 9, 2017 - You don't need to be a fortune-teller to know that "things are fluid" roster-wise. Good reason, therefore, to bring us all up to date: Pass rush specialist, Chandler Jones's franchise tag was dropped and he was signed to a long-term deal. TE Jermaine Gresham re-upped for 4 years. OL John Wetzel got an Exclusive Rights tender offer as did DT Olsen Pierre. QB Zac Dysert also got an Exlusive Rights tender. Things don't look promising on the Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson fronts, but (as of right now) there's nothing official to report.
Regarding the guys we've re-signed: the pattern seems to follow the lines of an informal remark made either by BA or SK (who knows? Maybe both) where they stressed the importance of of having un-sexy backup guys available at the bottom of your roster who can step in at any time to replace an injured player and execute their assignments without missing a beat.
Fitz Will be Back
Feb. 3, 2017 - Larry Fitzgerald will fulfill the final year of his contract and hopefully play an active role in the Cardinals' march to the 2018 Super Bowl.
Looking toward the 2017 offseason, it was clear that, roster-wise, the Cards were vulnerable - overloaded with talented veterans whose contracts had expired or were considering retirement; most notable were battery-mates Fitz and Carson Palmer, front seven stalwarts Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones and safeties Tony Jefferson and DJ Swearinger. Had Fitz retired, the Card front office would have probably made the restocking of its wide receiver group a top priority. (Even so - with the departure of Michael Floyd - they figure to still be in the market for a big, long wideout who can win jump ball battles). But now they can be expected to undertake a more balanced approach to filling the Cardinal roster).
Welcome to 2017
Jan. 3, 2017 - Even the Cardinals' 44 - 6 pasting of the LA Rams is quickly becoming history as the NFL calendar marches onward. Draft prospects who flashed in recent Bowl games are being checked out and initial position rankings
put together. The early part of the 2017 Draft Order and next year's scheduled opponents for each team have been announced by the League Office. Here's what we know:
Seven on PS Signed to Future Deals
They are OLB Cap Capi. WR Marvin Hall, WR Chris Hubert, OG Kaleb Johnson, C/G Daniel Munyer, RB Elijhaa Penny and CB Ronald Zamort. (I'm especially happy we signed Penny who - at 247 lb can back up David Johnson as our short yardage guy.
Top Draft Order
5. Tennessee fr LA
11. New Orleans
12. Cleveland fr Philadelphia
Some interesting early analysis of top prospects can be found on the Arizona Sports Fans Cardinal forum (most notably Walter Mitchell's comments).
Most savvy fans know that - within each division - The four teams share 14 common opponents* (in the NFC West that would include: 6 home & home games vs. one another, all 4 teams from the NFC East and 4 games with Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee.
Discounting the Home/Away game factor and the fact that "teams don't play themselves" within a division, that leaves each team with 2 "unique" games"
Cards: Tampa Bay and Detroit
Seattle: Green Bay and Atlanta
Rams: New Orleans and Minnesota
Niners: Carolina and Chicago
A word of caution - When scoping out game-by-game projected outcomes, beware of strength-of schedule. Each season is a new one - last year's champs can wind up this year's chumps (& vice versa). Also - all you have to do is check last year's W & L records. How'd we do vs. tBuffalo, LA and Carolina? (They all wound up with worse records than we had - and we lost to all three of them).
The BRS is already working on the 2017 Draft. The All Star games start popping up toward the end of this month, and then we have the Combine in Feb. (Time flies when you're having fun)! Then it's on to Pro Days and then the Draft. (& don't forget - somewhere in the middle of all this will be signings, non-signings and free agent movement.