Cody Brown doesn’t know much about Arizona or the Cardinals. He knows they were in the Super Bowl, but he’s never been to Arizona or remembered having any contact with the team leading up to Saturday’s NFL draft.
“Not at all,” he said after being taken in the second round (No. 63 overall) by the Cardinals. “It’s a big surprise to me because I hadn’t talked to anyone from their staff.”
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he saw and talked to Brown at the NFL combine and during a separate pre-draft workout, and joked about the impression it must have made on Brown.
“I’m real nervous right now,” Brown said. “I didn’t expect to feel like this, I’m kind of at a loss for words.”
Either way, he apparently left one on the Cardinals. At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, the team liked his athletic ability and character for the new 3-4 defensive scheme, in which Brown figures to drop into coverage more often at outside linebacker, something Brown said he did during UConn practices but was primarily a rusher in games.
“I’m very confident about playing outside linebacker in the 3-4,” he said.
He was the first UConn player to start a game on either line as a freshman since the school became Division I-A in 2000. A three-year starter at defensive end, he led the Huskies in sacks three times, capped by a career-high 11 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss and school-record five forced fumbles as a senior.
Similar to first-round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last spring, the Cardinals don’t feel first-round pick Chris “Beanie” Wells or Brown will be required to make an impact on Day 1.
“In my experience that’s the best situation to have, when you can make these guys earn their way on the field,” Whisenhunt said. I also feel like both of these players are good enough that they’ll make an impact for us.”
'EDGE’ NEARS END?
Given his contract and desire to be a starter, it was a long shot Edgerrin James would still be on the roster by training camp.
Those odds may have grown even longer since the Cardinals took running back Chris “Beanie” Wells during Saturday’s first round of the NFL draft.
Still, general manager Rod Graves wouldn’t close that door, and added the team will go through a roster evaluation after the draft concludes Sunday.
“We’ll evaluate all of that next week,” Graves said.
AN ODD REUNION
Former Arizona offensive lineman Eben Britton was projected to be a mid-to-late first round draft choice, but he fell into the second round before being scooped up by Jacksonville (No. 39 overall).
Britton, a two-time all-Pac-10 lineman, is 6-foot-6, 310 pounds. He started 37 consecutive games in three seasons with the Wildcats before he left after his junior season. He was the second offensive lineman from the Pac-10 taken in the first round after California center Alex Mack went No. 21 overall to Cleveland.
Britton’s new offensive coordinator in Jacksonville: former Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter.
Chris 'Beanie’ Wells
Pick: 1st round, 31st overall
School: Ohio State
2008-2009 stats: 207 carries, 1,197 yards (5.8 avg), 8 TD (Junior)
Why the Cardinals chose him: Basically because the Cardinals were 32nd in rushing last season and are likely to cut Edgerrin James for salary cap reasons before training camp. One of either Wells, Knowshon Moreno or Donald Brown would help the cause. With Moreno and Brown off the board, Wells offers a size and speed combination the Cardinals can use to compliment second-year back Tim Hightower. Wells missed three games with a foot injury his junior season, and his slow recovery raised eyebrows about durability.
Pick: 2nd round, 63rd overall
2008-2009 stats: 11 sacks, 56 tackles (33 solo), 16.5 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles (Senior)
Why Cardinals chose him: With a 3-4 scheme coming under new defensive coordinator Bill Davis, the Cardinals need a couple young linebackers behind veterans such as Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Travis LaBoy and Karlos Dansby. Though listed at 244 pounds, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt saw Brown in the 250s when the team weighed him. His coverage skills will need to evolve in time, but the Cardinals want someone who can rush the passer since Berry led the Cardinals with seven sacks last season (two of which came in the playoffs).