The 5: Players to watch during Cardinals rookie minicamp
This weekend, the Arizona Cardinals will hold their rookie camp, which gives coaches their first real chance to work with their newest players.
Among those who will take the field for the Cardinals include their seven-player 2017 draft class as well as the 17 undrafted free agents they signed. There will also be players in camp on a tryout basis, hoping to impress enough to earn a contract that will take them through the offseason and into training camp.
As head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday, at Steak 44 while promoting the third annual Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser, it’s one of his favorite times of the year.
“You pretty much know what you’ve got in your draftees; I’m looking for the undrafted guys and the tryout guys,” he said. “Because every year one or two of those guys has made our team. So I get really excited looking at them.”
Arians went on to say it’s a weekend to see how fast all the first-year players can learn — especially the team’s draft picks — with regards to how much information they can absorb in a short amount of time. That, he said, will help determine how ready each will be to contribute in their rookie season.
“Or how limited their role will be,” he added. “And then looking at those other guys, looking for that chance. It’s always fun.”
With that in mind, here are five things to watch for in this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
The first-round pick
Saying one should be interested in the team’s first-round pick, No. 13 overall, is not exactly a novel thought. Yet, Haason Reddick’s ability to pick up Arizona’s defense quickly while showing the talent that led the Cardinals to picking him could prove to be huge for 2017.
If Reddick is the real deal and if the coaches have confidence in him, the defense will have added an incredibly dynamic linebacker who can help them in a variety of different ways. Arians said the team “was shocked” Reddick was available to them at 13 and the team would have taken him ahead of any of the draft’s quarterbacks, and this weekend will offer him a chance to start proving them right in their assessment.
Just because the Cardinals did not draft a quarterback does not mean they did not add any rookie passers, as Trevor Knight from Texas A&M and Antonio Pipkin from Tiffin will be on hand this weekend. Do either have a chance to make the team? Well, with Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Zac Dysert and Blaine Gabbert already on the roster, odds are stacked against them. Still, Arians said he is intrigued:
“Both really good athletes,” he said. “Trevor bounced around from Oklahoma — that Sugar Bowl game he had at Oklahoma against Alabama, he dropped about four or five dimes on them; got into more of a read-option offense at A&M, so yeah, he’s an intriguing guy.
“And the young fella from Tiffin, we’ll see; I liked him at the Senior Bowl — Senior Bowl was good for a lot of guys — so we’ll wait and see how that pans out.”
The next Tyrann Mathieu?
Due to Washington being on the quarters schedule, Baker will not be around to participate in much of the team’s offseason workouts as the school year is still going on. But he’s here for rookie camp, and will get a chance to show the skills that have many comparing him to Tyrann Mathieu.
Though a bit small, Baker has speed, quickness, strength and instincts — as well as desire — and the Cardinals have not been bashful about their excitement over his future. Is he the next Mathieu? Maybe, and it’s worth noting that as a rookie, Mathieu did not take long to show he would be ready to impact the team in year one.
A potential option at CB
Of the 17 players the Cardinals signed as undrafted free agents, none were offered as much bonus money as Shelton, who was reportedly given $25,000 to sign. A bit small at 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds, Shelton produced as a four-year starter for Wisconsin. He picked off nine passes in his career — including four as a senior, when he was named second-team All-Big Ten — and fared well against some of the better wideouts in college football.
With good athleticism and plenty of experience, he comes to Arizona with a seemingly decent chance to make an impact at a position where the Cardinals have much uncertainty.
Trio of intriguing receivers
The Cardinals addressed the receiver position in the draft, landing Grambling State’s Chad Williams in the third round. He went a bit sooner than some predicted, but the Cardinals are bullish on his potential given his size (6-foot-1, 203 pounds), speed (ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at pro day) and production (90 catches, 1,337 yards, 11 TDs as a senior). Obviously, he has the inside track at the position, but he’s not the only intriguing wideout who will be on hand.
Two undrafted signees, Carlton Agudosi from Rutgers and Krishawn Hogan, from Marian, offer reason to watch. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Agudosi posted a vertical leap of 40.5 inches at his pro day, pairing that with his 4.61 40-yard dash time. More potential than production, however, he caught just 35 passes for 513 yards and two touchdowns in college.
As for Hogan, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound receiver was incredibly productive against lower-level competition, where as a senior he caught 80 passes for 1,435 yards and 15 touchdowns while also scoring 10 rushing touchdowns and throwing one. With good size and a 40 time of 4.56 seconds, he has the look of a quality receiver but must prove he can be effective against higher-level competition.