With the Cardinals’ draft board finally complete, vice president of football operations Rod Graves was revealing draft strategy Friday afternoon.
It didn’t take much coercion to get Graves to admit that, should USC running back Reggie Bush fall to Arizona’s 10th overall spot in next week’s draft, the Cardinals will take him.
Graves said the Cards would also snare Maryland tight end Vernon Davis or USC quarterback Matt Leinart with their top pick.
Of course, all three players are expected to be drafted in the top five or six picks, long before the Cardinals have a chance to take a player.
As for dissecting the rest of the board, “three is probably deep enough,” Graves said with a chuckle.
Graves did say the team’s top 10 players aren’t much different than any other team. So it is logical that other than Leinart, Bush and Davis, others in the Cards’ top 10 include North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams, Virginia tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk and Texas quarterback Vince Young.
Texas defensive back Michael Huff and Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler are probably in the mix. Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims — a prime candidate for the Cards’ top pick — is definitely on Arizona’s list.
It’s possible defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (Oregon) and Broderick Bunkley (Florida State) and offensive tackle Winston Justice (USC) are close to a top-10 ranking, but because the Cardinals have starters at those spots, it is unlikely they will be under consideration.
That’s the catch about taking “best player available,” because need does get factored in. For instance, Graves said, running backs that would normally rank higher on Arizona’s draft board are lower because of Edgerrin James’ signing.
“Those are kinds of considerations that we built into our top 120,” Graves said, “so when we come out of it there is a larger chance that we’ll hit on those positions of need, even though we’re talking about best players available.”
The Cardinals, as usual, will likely stay put with their first-round pick. Graves said the team won’t rule out a trade. With little difference in quality for the players likely to go between picks five and 10, Graves said it probably wouldn’t be worth giving up multiple draft choices to move up. Graves also said moving down was unlikely unless a team would “really throw something at us we would have a hard time refusing.” So the Cards will wait, avoid the temptation to tinker with their board too much in the next week, and see how the first round unfolds a week from today.
“You really can’t fall in love with a player,” coach Dennis Green said. “You can do it in free agency and pay more money to get that player. But in the draft, you can’t do that. “You never know what (another) team is going to do. You can anticipate and you have your mock drafts, but you never know what moves they are going to make. You can’t afford to put all your eggs in one basket.”
Free-agent cornerback Raymond Walls, who likely was not going to be back with the Cardinals anyway, signed Friday with San Diego.