Day #3 - Keim Starts Filling in the Blanks
Apr 25 - 6:00 pm EDT -Cards wrapped up their draft in local style by selecting ASU RB Eno Benjamin. He figures to be slotted 3rd among RBs behind Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds. He's a breakaway (5-9) "waterbug" who can take it to the house. I can't wait to see how Coach Kingsbury uses him in a receiver in a multiple one-back set. So that
's the draft. How did we do? See how these guys do during the regular season and base your judgment on their performances.
Apr 25 - 5:00 pm EDT - I had Evan Weaver ranked second to Davis-Gaither as BPA going into Round 4. We drafted him with our #202 pick in Round 6. Weaver is described as using keen instincts to make up for lack of athleticism and substandard pass coverage techniques. What I'm hoping is that Vance Joseph has a pretty good idea of what kind of defensive front seven players he wants to execute his defensive scheming. At 6-2 240, Weaver would look good playing inside in a defense that includes C Jones, I Simmons on both edges and newly added veteran help inside. We have (barring trades) one more selection to make (at #222). Stay tuned.
Apr 25 - 12:45 pm- Cincy kicked off the 4th round by drafting the guy I wanted (Akeem Davis-Gaither). With the #114 pick of the draft, Steve Keim dug deep beneath the list on the BPA Board and, instead, zero'd in on a 330 lb run stopper Leki Fotu. ("with tree trunks for limbs" according to the Lindy's scout). Cards have another 4th round pick at #131 and picks at 202 and 222. Top undrafted picks who might draw interest include: Top prospects who remain on my board - 1. E Weaver (ILB Calif, 2. Rashard Lawrence (DL LSU), 3. Tyler Bladacz (OL Wisc, , 4. Troy Dye (LB Oregon), 5. Harrison Hand (CB Temple), 6 Ben Bartch (OL Temple) and 7. Tyler Johnson (WR Minn).
With our #131, we chose Lawrence (5th-ranked on our board of defensive tackles and second on our "available player list.") Just guessing, but this seems to reflect a commitment by S Keim that we won't be out-physicalled in the midddle and beaten-up by opposing inside ruunning attacks.
That leaves us with #202 and #222. Can't begin to guess what we'll do with those 2 picks.
Day #2 - Not a Hotbed of Drama
Apr 25 - 10:30 am ET - Not exactly a hotbed of football drama: The Cards had traded their second round pick in the trade for D'Andre Hopkins and, barring trades, would have to wait til Pick #72 (in the third round) and #114 (near the top of the 4th) to make their next two selections.
Cards had drafted a defensive difference-maker in Simmons. Atop the relatively long list position priorities was the need to keep QB Kyler Murray upright and healthy. CW was that four OTs (Wirfs, Thomas, Becton and Wills) were blu-chippers, but they were long-gone. Question would be: "Would the Cards dip into the next echelon of tackles? Or were there more deserving Best Available Athletes available to draft at #72?
After a somewhat boring and comatose Day #2, our ears perked up as we neared the point of decision. When we drafted at #72, the top three prospects on our board were an obscure small-school LB (with an attitude) named Asheed Davis Gaither, from Appalachian State and two offensive tackles: (1) Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) and (2) Josh Jones (Houston). Cards selected Jones, and we rolled on toward Pick 114.
I must confess that, early the next day, I got lost in a Time Warp - watching a televised replay of the second half of Day 2 while thinking that it was being aired "live." As we reached the end of the third round (#106)?, I checked out my BPA board for the best available players in advance of the Cardinal (#114) pick only to have ESPN/NFLN sign off at the end of round 3m
So here we are, waiting for Day #3 to begin - Top 8 prospects still on my board - 1. Asheem Davis-Gaither (LB App St), 2. E Weaver (ILB Calif, 3. Rashard Lawrence (DL LSU), 4. Tyler Bladacz (OL Wisc, 5. Shane Lemiux (OL Oregon), 6. Troy Dye (LB Oregon), 7. Harrison Hand (CB Temple), 8. Ben Bartch (OL Temple) and, oh yeah, one guy I overlooked early in the process - 8a Tyler Johnson (WR Minn).
Pickins are beginning to get a bit slim (I had been secretly crossing my fingers hoping that we'd engineer a trade where we'd trade into Round 2 in exchange for a couple of Day 3 draft picks) Didn't happen but the one guy who captured my imagination is Davis-Gaither (who profiles as an aggressive version of "Simmons- Lite."
We shall see what we shall see. Catch you later - JGG
Cards Net Their Playmaker
Apr 24 - 10:33 am ET - It's the morning after with the much-coveted defensive Swiss Army Knife (LS/S Isiah Simmons) tucked securely away.
Conventional Wisdom (including that of the venerable Mel Kiper) had the Cardinals nabbing one of the top 4 offensive tackles (to protect Kyler Murray). A sizable constituency of Cardinal fans worried that while an OT Like Wirfs or Thomas would be a safe, logical pick, the Cards needed impact-help on the other side of the ball and were zeroing in on defensive playmakers like CB Jeff Okudah, DT Derek Brown and hybrid S/LB Isiah Simmons.
The draft - televised from Roger Goodell's Bronxville, NY basement in accordance with Covid 19 guidelines - unfurled with a logical, computer-like precision. Few if any surprises and no trades until TB swapped #13 and #14 picks with the Niners. Burrow, Young and Okudah were ripped from the board on the first 3 picks. After that, the draft seemed to operate on the assumption that a large number of players fairly equal in talent were coming off the board - the question was "for which team?"
Biggest surprises were CB Damon Arnette and OC Cesar Ruiz.
As the draft inched along to where the Cardinals picked at #8, we could see the draft, from a Cardinals' viewpoint moving in several directions: (1) we could grab the best remaining OT to protect Murray, (2) we could hope Okudah would somehow fall to us, (3) we could blockade enemy runners by adding DT Derek Brown, (4) we could surprise the world and nab Lamb or another top receiver, or (5) we could add an athletic, mobile piece of the defensive puzzle (& counter-weight to Chandler Jones) and select S-LB Isiah Simmon, who ran a 4.39 Combine forty at 238 lbs. Or (6) we could trade down out of the #8-spot. I leaned toward Simmons but thought that some other team would beat us to him, leaving us to select Brown.
From a "needs" standpoint, it figured to be between OT and a playmaking defender. I'm guessing that the Cardinals were divided on this issue, but it finally came down to "which guy can win more football games for us?" (I'd also have to believe that the Cards would have reached out to OL coach Sean Kugler to provide insight into the question - Can we develop the OL guys we've got and win with them? Or do we need a talented youngster?" Cards apparently opted to go with the playmaker, and I'm glad we did).
What next? Well, we don't have a 2nd round pick and have to wait till number 72 to make our next selection. Whether we skip BPA and "address need" is up to the Cardinal brass, but I'd guess that, if the right offensive lineman was still on our board, we'd go in that direction with other options - like a TE or one of a still-deep pool of wideouts - open to us. (Note - my favorite available prospect -- who may have been cancelled out by the pick of Simmons - is Akeem Davis-Gaither, a LB from Appaachian State. He plays with his hair on fire - be on the lookout.
Catch you later - JGG
Day #1: Thurs. April 23
Apr 23rd - 11:51 AM - Good morning. 9 hours till Zero Hour. No new rumors of the magnitude of, say, "The Gronk to TB" but what they lack in gravitas, they make up for it in sheer numbers. Here are the ones that grabbed my attention:
Detroit may swap its #3 for Miami's #5 and pick (s). Dolphs would use the #3 to pick the QB of its choosing. Lions would still have a shot at Okudah, Simmons or Brown.
Reagor and Kmet are rising up the boards. Philly said to be high on Reagor.
Okwara and Arnette could sneak into the bottom of Round One.
Ezra Cleveland may go higher than expected (Browns interested). Cleveland? Browns? Really?
Giants at #4 could trade down with Jax at #9.
Hurts and Winfield may not be drafted in 1st round but are still generating interest.
Pats have interest in Tua, but will probably go in another direction.
SF, Philly and Denver said to have interest in Ruggs III
So where does that leave the Cardinals? Short answer - Pretty much where they were a couple of months ago - sitting at the base of the cliff - Holden Caufield-style - waiting to catch the first guy to fall over the cliff. Could be one of the 4 tackles...could be Simmons or Brown,,,could be Lamb or Juedy...Okudah could conceivably drop to us...Which means we'd be guaranteed to have three blue chip guys to choose from. (In my opinion, this should be our default-position entering the draft.
But there are other options - The Cards don't have a 2nd round pick (they traded away their #40 in the Hopkins deal). Steve Keim may try to retrieve that missing pick via trade (as in "swapping our #8 for a later first round pick plus a second rounder. Not a bad idea, but only if Keim doesn't overthink things so that we say, trade down out of "blue chip country.") Ideally, if we reached #8 with 4 players still on our board, we could trade down to #12 and still get the guy we wanted. But if there were only, say, one or two players left on our goard at #8, we'd be well-advised to pass on any deal that would move us past #10.
As fans, we'll probably be pretty much resigned to sitting on the sidelines with our fingers crossed hoping that the right dominos fall in the right directions and that S Keim makes the right decisions. The scenario we'd be hoping for would leave Okudah, Simmons, Brown on our board at #8 and that we grabbed one of them. Depending on what Keim's BPA board looks like, we wouldn't be unhappy if the two QBs, two WRs and 3 OTs came off the board, leaving us with 4 players to choose from (or trade down for) in an OT, Okudah, Simmons or Brown. In this scenario, we could stand pat and land a blue-chip prospect or we could trade down as far as #10 and still land one of the top guys.
That's the way I see things unfolding but, the truth is we're "flying blind." We can't see what Steve Keim and Michael Bidwill are seeing - the various nfl teams are more likely than not than lie or blow smoke. We'll just have to wait and see.
Apr 20, 2020 - Within the context of less info on more players, o-called unsung "sleeper" picks take on greater importance than in "normal years."
Dan Wolken of USA Today has identified a handful of these guys:
Steve Montez, QB Colorado ("Good size...good mobility...nfl arm").
Antonio Gibson RB Memphis ("big enough...fast enough...versatile")
James Proche WR SMU ("Most mocks rate 20 WRs ahead of him...which is just crazy - watch the tape")
Marquez Calloway WR Tenn ("Worth a roll of the dice...never played with a great QB")
Albert Okwuegbunam TE Mizzou ("Pigeonholed as a red-zone guy but has enough speed to be a real threat over the middle")
Jonathan Garvin EDGE Miami (FL) ("All the upside is there...Won't be a 2nd round pick, but should be")
Benito Jones DT Ole Miss ("Targeted by enemy double teamers...Better DT than guys picked ahead of him")
Jordan Mack LB UVa ("Smart...Plays hard...Gets to the football...Coaches will love him")
Trajan Bandy DB Miami (FL) ("Pretty small (5-8) for a CB but forced 5 turnovers in 2018")
JR Reed S Georgia ("Possibly the smartest defensive player in the draft")
Rodrigo Blankenship K Georgia ("Consider how many games are won or lost on the accuracy of the kicker. Blankenship is best of bunch")
Setting the Stage -
The Coronavirus global epidemic overshadows eveything - Nothing can be as important as the survival of the human species. As a headline-magnet, the outbreak sucks all the air out of the proverbial room. Commissioner Goodell plans to announce the earlier picks from his Bronxville, NY home studio.
To say that things will be "weird" is an understatement.
On a personal note - I care deeply about the planet and the survival. of human-kind. I mourn those who were unexpected taken from us. I'm not going to make a feeble excuse for not taking things seriously enough and zeroing in on something as shallow as a "game" during desperate times. But some of us need a distraction to take our minds off these horrible times, and, for many of us, football can help do that. The End.
As we near Thursday evening, I'll begin to post stuff as the news begins to present itself.