One of the events NFL fans always clamor for every year is the NFL Draft.
This year’s version kicks off next Thursday night, and teams, players, the draftees and their families will never be quite the same afterwards.
The Arizona Cardinals will select 13th during the first round of the draft. The team has seven overall picks and will have a selection in each of the seven rounds except for the second, because they gave that pick to the Eagles last July as part of the deal to bring quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona.
For Cardinals general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt, this will be their sixth draft together.
Through the years, Graves and Whisenhunt have brought immediate impact players to this team, such as defensive end Calais Campbell, running back Beanie Wells, linebacker Sam Acho and cornerback Patrick Peterson, to name a few.
The beautiful thing about the draft is there’s opportunities galore to reload your team and contend for a world championship. It takes the right leadership and management to do that, and the Cardinals seem to be a team that has the right brass in place.
Whisenhunt talked about the “war room” chemistry between he, Graves and Director of Player Personnel Steve Keim.
“The chemistry in the room is very good,” said Whisenhunt. “Nobody is afraid to speak their opinions, there aren’t a lot of egos in the room and that’s an important part of it.”
Peterson came in last season and paid immediate dividends for the Cardinals, both tying records and making new ones of his own.
Peterson is the classic example of an instant impact player, which Graves knows the draft is capable of churning out to teams like the Cardinals.
The draft is also full of players that build themselves up over an elongated period of time, which is just as good as a player who jumps right in and gets it. Everyone comes along at a different pace, which Graves understands all too well.
“It [the draft] can have an immediate impact, or it can be one that manifests itself over time, depending on the strength of your roster and how quickly those young players are able to get on the field,” Graves said.
The mystery behind the 13th pick is who the Cardinals will choose when the time comes? Will it be an offensive lineman like Riley Reiff from Iowa or Mike Adams from Ohio State, or will they go with a wide receiver like Michael Floyd from Notre Dame?
“It depends on who you’ve drafted previously, the strength of our roster, or whether or not we should take a guy in that category that fits more of a need,” Graves said.
If you’re a Cardinals fan, you know the team needs to address both the offensive line and wide receiver positions, but you obviously can’t take two players with one pick, hence the need for a “war room.”
Whisenhunt said that it was “big” for the team to re-sign tackle Levi Brown and bring over guard Adam Snyder from the 49ers in free agency. Whisenhunt also said it’s not a given that the team will have an opportunity to draft a lineman when the time comes. He said it will come down to whether or not the player they’re considering is the right fit for the team, and if the opportunity even presents itself, depending on what the teams ahead of them decide to do.
As far as Floyd goes, Whisenhunt was very impressed by the young man when they met with him recently.
“He’s a good young player,” Whisenhunt said. “We enjoyed our time with him.”
The first round draft gets underway on Thursday night at 4:30 p.m. and continues with subsequent rounds into the weekend.