Reviewing the Arizona Cardinals' 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways
Over the past few days head coach Bruce Arians and company were able to get an up close look of the men they could be vying for come April.
Several players are on the rise, while others are starting to slide down draft boards. No matter how much stock is put into the events, there are a few things that Arizona can take out of it.
Not every combine drill had an impact on this team, but many of the events affected them indirectly.
Here are the Cardinals five biggest takeaways from the NFL scouting combine.
1. Matt Barkley
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USC quarterback Matt Barkley was slated to be the first overall pick of the 2013 draft. That was until the actual college season began.
His name has been sliding down draft boards over the past few months and some even have him falling to the second round.
Despite not throwing at the combine, his name was brought back into the spotlight. On Sunday morning, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller sent the following tweet.
Text I received from a scout this morning: Matt Barkley will not get past the Arizona Cardinals at No. 7 overall.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) Feb. 24, 2013
What is a scouting combine without some rumors, right? Just when you think the Barkley to Arizona talk would die down, something like this puts it back under-the-radar.
While I am not a big proponent of using the No. 7 pick on him, it is now something that is in the back of everyone’s mind.
2. Second Round Options
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Not having a second-round pick last year really hurt the Cardinals. They missed out on several solid prospects including Janoris Jenkins, Bobby Wagner and Mitchell Schwartz.
In 2013, however, they hold the sixth pick (38 overall) in round No. 2.
This is a big pick for Arizona. If the draft is handled correctly, this team could wind up with two or three rookie starters.
The options are endless in the second round. A quarterback prospect such as the aforementioned Barkley could still be on the board.
Other quality talents like Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), Larry Warford (Kentucky), Barrett Jones (Alabama) and Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) could be there as well.
This pick is the one that intrigues me the most. The Cardinals have a big decision to make here and I can assure you that there will be a lot of debate in regards to what they should do.
3. Offensive Line
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With the Kansas City Chiefs acquiring Alex Smith, Luke Joeckel going No. 1 overall is almost set in stone.
From here, some people have Philadelphia taking Eric Fisher with the fourth pick and then Arizona picking up Lane Johnson at No. 7 overall.
This will not happen.
Sure, Johnson had a solid combine. That does not mean the Cardinals will pass on a stud defensive player or Chance Warmack to get him.
Furthermore, if Nnamdi Asomugha does not restructure his contract with the Eagles, he is as good as gone.
Cornerback is a need for them. Even with the injury issues, it is hard to see Philadelphia passing on Dee Milliner after his performance at the combine.
Milliner’s combine performance has assured that at least one of the big three (Joeckel, Fisher, Warmack) will be available at pick No. 7.
Unless they find someone to trade down with, Arizona is not taking Johnson.
4. Honey Badger
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One man who handled himself quite well at the combine was Tyrann Mathieu. The former LSU standout did not play in 2012 due to a violation of team rules.
With most of the press focused on Te’o, he got off a bit easy in terms of addressing the media.
Known as the “Honey Badger,” Mathieu has had his fair share of problems. After being dismissed from the football club, he was arrested in October and faced drug-related charges.
If there is one player that can keep him on track, it is former teammate Patrick Peterson. The two share similar playing styles. They are both very sound defensively and can contribute on special teams as well.
After his combine performance, Arizona should take another look at Mathieu. He is a very talented player that the Cardinals might be able to steal on day three of the draft.
5. Late-Round Importance
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Speaking of Day 3, the Cardinals last few picks in the draft this year will be very important.
In the past two drafts, they have landed Bobby Massie and Sam Acho in the fourth round. Both players started in all 16 games for Arizona in 2012.
This draft features a lot of depth at almost every position. There are several men, particularly at running back and wide receiver, which would look great in Cardinal red.
After watching the combine, there is a lot of talent that will still be out there come Saturday. The main focus is always on the first two days, but the real draft winners and losers will be based largely upon their day three picks.
Addressing the offensive line in free agency or early in the draft is very important. Arizona must do this so it can draft best player available in the final rounds.