The NFL Draft is just hours away and I'm sure the Arizona Cardinals are set up in the war-room at their facility in Tempe.
There's no doubt in my mind they have every bit of information they need to make the right decision with the number five pick and throughout the rest of the draft as well. They're well prepared with every number and stat -- including 40-time, bench press, vertical leap, etc. -- but what about the intangibles…the things that are not measured by a number…what about their character?
In my opinion, the character of an NFL Draft pick is just as important, if not more important than the stats and the numbers. Character is who we are when no one is looking. Character is our values, morals, judgment and the decisions we make. Character is how we define ourselves and not how others define us.
If I'm the Cardinals, I want somebody who is talented and enjoys playing football but also a guy that enjoys working at it as well. I want a guy that makes good decisions on and off the field in his personal and professional life. A guy that makes the players around him better people, not just better athletes.
If I know Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt as well as I think I do…character is a priority for him too. Very rarely do any current Cardinals make news for negative behavior (aside from Darnell Dockett's brilliant UStream shower video). Guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Adrian Wilson go about their business, work hard, lead with their voice and by example -- encouraging their teammates to follow.
Fitzgerald spent his off-season delivering hearing aids to Africa, hosting a charity softball game and organizing workouts for any players that wanted to join him. Now that's a player I want on my team.
A lot of today's GM's, owners and coaches have decided that all the talent in the world isn't necessarily worth the trouble of negative publicity and bad chemistry that can happen to a team as a result of poor character players.
Gone are the days of selecting a player based solely on stats and numbers. Talent is tempting, but in the end it rarely outweighs the headache a player can cause.