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The 5: Cardinals NFL Combine stars drafted by Steve Keim

Maybe the NFL Scouting Combine doesn’t give a full glimpse of football skills. It’s probably more important for teams to focus on interviews and medical evaluations before they get caught up in the physical testing.

But if we’re going to consider history, the Arizona Cardinals sure like picking combine stars, especially under the leadership of general manager Steve Keim.

Here are five notable combine stars that Arizona ended up drafting.

J.J. Nelson

Recording what is tied for the third-best time in the 40 since 2006, Nelson’s 4.28 dash was the fastest run in the 2015 combine.

The receiver out of Alabama-Birmingham weighed in at just 156 pounds, but his frame has proved functional in flashes over his past three seasons. Nelson eclipsed the 500-yard mark in each of his second and third seasons.

With John Brown and Jaron Brown hitting free agency this offseason, Nelson is one of the few returning options in the receiving corps alongside Larry Fitzgerald and last year’s third-round pick, Chad Williams.

— Kevin Zimmerman

Ryan Swope

An all-state running back in high school, Swope was known for having stand-out athleticism with reliable hands.

Catching balls from Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel in his last two seasons at Texas A&M, Swope is the school’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.

His 4.34 40-yard dash tied for second in 2013 among wide receivers, failing to beat out only Tavon Austin and Marquise Goodwin. He also put up an impressive 37-inch vertical and the best three-cone drill of Keim’s draftees at 6.76 seconds (tied with Budda Baker).

Drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round, Swope had to retire three months after being selected due to ongoing concussion issues.

As of February 2017, Swope has been working in real estate.

— Kellan Olson

John Brown

Projected (at least by NFL.com’s profile) to go undrafted out of Pittsburg State in 2014, Brown showed out with a 4.34 40-yard dash. That fell short of only Dri Archer and Brandin Cooks in the class.

Perhaps that skyrocketed his draft stock. Arizona picked Brown 91st overall (third round) and saw that speed translate to the NFL.

Brown caught five touchdowns and was targeted 103 times for 696 yards as a rookie, then became a 1,000-yard receiver his second season in 2015. Health problems related to a sickle cell trait hampered Brown in 2016, and that lingered into 2017 as other minor injuries limited the speedy wideout.

A free agent on March 14, Brown could be searching for a new home.

— Kevin Zimmerman

Jonathan Cooper

Perhaps the biggest bust — and biggest guy at 311 pounds — drafted by Keim, Cooper was seen as a near lock to be a Pro Bowl offensive guard for a decade when he was selected No. 7 overall.

His 35 bench reps were the second-most among offensive linemen in the 2013 combine.

In his rookie year, Cooper broke his fibula before starting only two games in 2014.

In the 2016 offseason, he was involved in Keim’s deal with the New England Patriots for pass rusher Chandler Jones. He has since played for the Cleveland Browns and is now with the Dallas Cowboys.

— Kellan Olson

T.J. Logan, 40-yard dash

Yet another name who stood out in the 40-yard dash, Logan’s 4.37 mark was the best at the 2017 combine among running backs and the sixth-best overall.

The time is tied for the ninth-fastest 40-yard dash for a running back in combine history.

The Cardinals selected Logan in the fifth round at No. 179 overall, eyeing him as the team’s potential new return man with upside for more.

Logan, though, never got a chance to fight for playing time his rookie year after he suffered a dislocated wrist last August. He enters 2018 with the hopes he can add a new element on special teams and perhaps become a changeup back behind David Johnson.

— Kellan Olson

Honorable mention: Brandon Williams, Haason Reddick, Budda Baker, Deone Bucannon

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