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The Cardinals' draft selections Friday had a distinct Cajun flavor.

A day after putting the focus on the offensive line, the Cardinals shined the spotlight on their defense by drafting a pair of former LSU players: LB Kevin Minter (2nd round, 45 overall) and CB Tyrann Mathieu (3rd round, 69th overall).

"Feel like we got two really good players today," general manager Steve Keim said. "Not only good players but guys that we feel can be impact additions on our roster, on the defensive side of the football."

Said head coach Bruce Arians, "We felt like we got two dynamic playmakers on the defensive side of the ball that will also extend into our special teams that really will make them a force."

With Minter, the Cardinals add "the depth that we need inside," according to Arians.

And with Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington suspended the first four games of the season, "we now can plug in another guy to compete for those starting jobs," Arians said. "He can play both linebacker (positions) for us. He is a thumper."

Keim said Minter was "a guy that we targeted all along" and were able to grab after trading down seven spots with the San Diego Chargers.

"He's got some natural explosiveness through his hips," Keim said. "He reminded me a little bit as a player of (New Orleans Saints linebacker) Curtis Lofton when he came out of Oklahoma. When he strikes you, you go backwards. He is a physical downhill player and has much better range I think than most people will give him credit for."

Mathieu is the x-factor.

"The things that he brings as a defensive back that are so multifunctional," Arians said. "He can play safety. He can play nickel. He can play corner. He's obviously a great blitzer."

Arians said they would "probably start (Mathieu) at weak safety; and then with our defense the way it's structured, he can slide into the slot as a free safety, so basically we're playing with three corners but one of them is also a safety. He gives that flexibility where we wouldn't have to substitute."

And of course he can return punts.

Might that mean Mathieu eventually replaces Patrick Peterson, another ex-LSU standout?

"No, I kind of like to see them both back there together," Arians said with a smile. "Who are you going to kick it to? We can have a lot of fun with that one because they're both great athletes."

Craig Grialou, Reporter

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