Arizona Cardinals Draft Review

by Tommy Lawlor – ScoutsNotebook.com

ARIZONA CARDINALS

1 – DT Dan Williams – Tennessee
2 – LB Daryl Washington – TCU
3 – WR Andre Roberts – The Citadel
4 – LB O’Brien Schofield – Wisconsin
5 – QB John Skelton – Fordham
6 – CB Jorrick Calvin – Troy
7 – TE Jim Dray – Stanford

The Cardinals surprised us all by taking DT Dan Williams with their 1st round pick.  The Cards had other perceived needs, but Williams was just too good to pass on.  I had thought there was a chance he’d go inside the Top 15.  To see him on the board late in the 1st made him a bargain.  Williams has a very good NT build at 6’2, 327.  He’s stout enough to hold the point of attack, but Williams is more than just someone to eat blocks.  He can push the pocket.  He can get into the backfield and make plays.  He’s quick off the ball and moves well for a big man.  The Cardinals like to get creative with their defense.  Williams offers them a player who can be used different ways.  He can play NT in the 3-4.  They could shift to a 4-3 look and have him at NT or UT.  Maybe he even lines up at DE in the 3-4 on occasions.  I think the sky is the limit for Dan.  He had a very strong showing at the Senior Bowl.  If he can maintain that kind of focus he’ll be a big time player in the NFL.    

The Cards got great value in the 2nd round as well.  Many thought LB Daryl Washington could go in the late 1st.  Instead he slid all the way down to pick 47.  The Cards traded up to get him, feeling that he wasn’t going to last much longer.  Washington played ILB in a 4-2-5 scheme at TCU.  He’ll now play ILB in a 3-4 hybrid scheme in the pros.  Washington lacks ideal size, but is a really talented player.  He had a great Senior season and then played well at the Senior Bowl.  He’s better in space than shedding blocks and stuffing the run, but don’t think of him as a finesse player.  Daryl can hit and he’s a good tackler.  The Cards have to replace the coverage skills of Karlos Dansby and Washington can really help in that department.  He picked off 3 passes in 2009.  He’s got excellent range and shows a good feel for the passing game.  Daryl might challenge for a starting ILB role this year, but at the least I expect him to be a good role player in the Nickel and/or Dime schemes.

In the late 3rd Arizona took Citadel WR Andre Roberts.  3 for 3 with picks I liked a lot.  Anquan Boldin is now a Raven (just doesn’t sound right to those of us not in Charm City).  Steve Breaston is ready to step up and the Cards also have Early Doucet who may emerge this year.  Roberts will have limited opportunities this season, but in time could become a key part of the passing game.  I really liked his aggressive style of play.  He’s only 5’11, 195, but Roberts is convinced that he’s 6’4, 220.  He will have to adjust to a much higher level of competition (I-AA to the NFL), but he’s certainly got the right mindset and style of play to handle that.  Some may see him as a mainly a PR and slot guy, but I think Andre could be a starter in time.  He’s got the athletic ability and playmaking potential that fit well in this offense.

The Cards rolled the dice in the 4th round.  They took a flier on LB O’Brien Schofield.  He tore his ACL in practice sessions at the Senior Bowl.  Heartbreaking moment.  Schofield had a huge Senior season and went from fringe prospect to intriguing player.  He was 2nd in the nation with 24.5 TFLs.  I loved watching him play.  Schofield was consistently disruptive.  He’s not the biggest guy or greatest athlete, but he’s very instinctive and just has a way of being in the right spot at the right time.  That stuff doesn’t always translate to the NFL, but I like taking chances on those kind of players.  Schofield (6’3, 242) played DE for Wisconsin, but is definitely a LB in the pros.  He played LB at the Shrine Game and had an INT and looked pretty good.  We were all excited to see what he could do in Mobile and then came the injury.  I’m happy that he went as early as he did.  Schofield seems like a good guy and I want to see him succeed.  2010 is probably a wash for him.  We’ll see if he can stay focused and make a good comeback in 2011.

Arizona went for QB John Skelton in the 5th round.  The Fordham star has NFL size and an NFL arm.  The question is whether he can play QB at the highest level.  I watched tape of him and came away with mixed feelings.  I saw the physical skills, but was bothered that a guy with his ability wasn’t more dominant at that level.  Fordham is in a lower tier of I-AA football (Bryant, Cornell, Columbia, Bucknell).  Skelton certainly played well, but it wasn’t like he was special.  Normally good QBs make a huge difference even at the big schools.  Fordham went 5-6.  Skelton threw for 69 TDs in 3 years as a starter.  That’s okay, but hardly great.  The argument for him is that he didn’t have great talent to work with.  Skelton had a mixed performance at the Shrine Game, but there’s no doubting his potential.  We’ll see what Ken Whisenhunt can do with him.  Solid value in the 5th.

Next up was CB Jorrick Calvin from Troy.  He was academically ineligible for 2009.  I did not watch tape of him from 2008.  Calvin (5’11, 184) started 12 games in ’08.  He picked off 2 passes and led the team with 9 PBUs.  Prior to ’08 he was at Junior College.  The Cards traded Bryant McFadden so there is room for a young CB.  We’ll see if Calvin is good enough to challenge for a roster spot or was a reach.  It’s only the 6th round so this wasn’t a dumb pick.  I just think Calvin was off the radar for a lot of people.  He certainly was for me.

The final pick landed TE Jim Dray of Stanford.  With Kurt Warner retired the Cards will likely run the ball more.  One way to help boost the run game is with improved blocking.  And that’s where Dray fits in.  I thought he was arguably the best blocking TE in the whole draft.  He has solid size at 6’5, 253.  He is strong, uses good technique, and is a good effort blocker.  Dray has okay hands, but just didn’t get to catch many passes at Stanford.  I think he’ll be effective as a receiver.  Dray projects as a role player and STer.  Smart pick by the Cards.  He fits what they need and was really good value in the 7th.  I expected him to go in the mid-rounds.

Cardinals draft tracker at NFL.com

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