Glut of WRs gives Cards some options - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Glut of WRs gives Cards some options

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Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2004 11:34 pm | Updated: 5:28 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Unless Dennis Green is blowing more smoke than Cheech and Chong, here's the Cardinals' itinerary on draft day:

They won't take a quarterback with the No. 3 pick overall.

Green on Thursday reiterated his faith in Josh McCown, anointing him the starting quarterback not only this year but for years to come.

“There's no way anybody in the college draft can come in and beat out Josh McCown,” Green said. “I think Josh McCown is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.”

They will take Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the third pick if he's available.

Green's philosophy is to select the best player on his draft board, regardless of position. He believes that Fitzgerald “is the No. 1 player coming out of college football.”

Put two and two together, and you get Anquan Boldin's running mate.

Fitzgerald is a pick straight out of central casting. He's big, fast, smart and, by all accounts, a good kid who won't go David Boston on the Cardinals.

He and Boldin could do for Arizona what Cris Carter and Randy Moss did for Green's Minnesota Vikings. They'll accelerate McCown's development, which is essential if the Cardinals plan to win, say, more than five games.

But while Fitzgerald is the logical choice, he's not the best choice.

That would be Miami safety Sean Taylor, who most NFL scouts feel is a more accomplished player than the prototype for the position, Dallas' Roy Williams.

Taylor is not a pressing need for the Cardinals, who have Dexter Jackson and Adrian Wilson at safety. But he is a special talent who could have as much impact on Arizona's defense as Fitzgerald does on the offense. So why Taylor over Fitzgerald?

Because this draft is ridiculous with receivers, and the Cardinals can get an accomplished wideout with their second-round selection, No. 33 overall.

Five receivers likely will go in the first round: Fitzgerald, Texas' Roy Williams, USC's Mike Williams, Washington's Reggie Williams and LSU's Michael Clayton.

Players like Wisconsin's Lee Evans, Oklahoma State's Rashuan Woods and Ohio State's Michael Jenkins — first-round choices most years — will be available at 33, giving the Cardinals great value for their pick.

“You have to take that into consideration,” said Rod Graves, Arizona's vice president of football operations. “Those top receivers will push good players down.”

Let's not forget, too, that Bryant Johnson, one of last year's two first-round picks, is still on the roster. Have the Cardinals so quickly given up on him that Fitzgerald is a necessity?

Hopefully, Green's pursuit of Fitzgerald is not colored by his relationship with the Fitzgerald family. He's been friends with Fitzgerald's father for years and has known Larry Jr. since he was 8 years old.

“It is a very strong bond, but I also have 30 years in coaching in the NFL and I respect the system, and the system isn’t high school to college where you can take someone with you where you want,” Green said.

To be fair, Green's assessment of Fitzgerald is shared throughout the NFL. He'll be one of the top five picks, and if the Cardinals take him, nobody's going to scream, “Calvin Pace!” and run from the room.

But this poker player believes a Taylor and, say, an Evans beats a Fitzgerald and whomever Arizona might take at 33.

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