It’s been a busy week in Cardinals land, as the pre-draft visits ramp up, more and more college players are coming in to workout and chat with GM Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians.
I’ve taken a close look at most of the prospects the Cardinals have visited thus far, and will continue to bring you in-depth looks at all the high round prospects. But as we get into gear I’ll be breaking down groups of prospects together as well.
Here is a look at the four prospects that have visited the Cardinals.
Brian Winters, OL, Kent State – 6-4, 320 lbs
Analysis: If you read Ron Wolfley’s article on the philosophy of drafting offensive linemen, Winters fits neatly into this description: “I know teams that refuse to draft college guards. There are many general managers in the league that draft tackles and convert them to guards because on average, they have better feet, better frames and are largely better athletes. That’s why their college teams put them out there in the first place — to hold up against the speedier, more athletic edge rushers.”
Winters was a multi-year starter at left tackle for Kent State, but projects to move inside at the NFL level. He shows excellent movement skills, a strong punch, latches on to the defender, and then drives them away from the line of scrimmage.
Has excellent feet, can pull, block in space, or win in the phone booth consistently — but there are some issues.
He can get over-aggressive at times and get himself out of position, allowing his defender to throw him off and make plays. Winters gets over-extended at times, which opens him up to counter moves inside. He will need to learn to play with better leverage, especially at the guard position.
Fit: There is a lot to like about Winters. His footwork is solid, he loves to run block and he holds up well in pass protection. He’ll need to learn to play the guard position in the NFL, but he looks like a guy who can come in and push both guards.
Round Projection: 3-4
Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas – 5-10, 227 lbs
Analysis: When Davis steps on the field he looks the part of an NFL running back. He’s compactly built with a muscular frame that looks like it has the ability to hold up to the NFL grind.
He blazed a 4.37-forty at the combine, and pushed up 31 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, putting the spotlight on him as the athlete. It makes you want to go back and double-check to see if those numbers show up on film. A little hint…they don’t.
Despite his breathtaking speed, Davis plays slow and indecisively and lacks a great burst to get to and through the line of scrimmage. When he does get into gear he is too often taken down by initial contact, and despite his strength, breaks few tackles.
Davis needs open lanes to run through, as he isn’t creative enough to find space, and too often breaks to the outside in order to try and find that space.
As a pass protector,he is very good. His strength shows up as he can step up and stone blitzers or defensive linemen that break through.
Fit: I am a little perplexed at Davis coming in for a visit to Arizona, honestly. He was a guy I expected to take the next step this year, and he never came through — it is painful to watch him at times. He needs to figure out how to run with authority and decisiveness if he wants to be a part of the Cardinals running back rotation, but at where he may go, I don’t know if I’d be willing to pull the trigger.
Round Projection: 3-5
Spencer Ware, RB, LSU – 5-10, 228 lbs
Analysis: While Ware doesn’t possess the eye-popping combine numbers of a Knile Davis, he’s an all-around better runner and a guy that can eventually carry the load in Arians offense if they choose to go that route.
He was in a “running back by committee” role at LSU, but Ware is a bruiser in the Marshawn Lynch/Marion Barber mold. He loves to run between the tackles and looks like a short-yardage back because of it, but I see a guy who can carry the ball more if the coach so desired.
Runs with a purpose, shows excellent pad level, quick feet to and through the hole, and then looks for contact with the defender.
Won’t make many people miss in the open field, but shows the ability to run through tackles and pick up extra yards post contact.
Not a home run threat in the normal sense, but Ware has a propensity to break long runs because he can run through arm tackles and over defensive backs. More than that, he is a consistent, grind-it-out-type back that will wear down a defense over a game.
Fit: Ware is an intriguing player because he fits into the power game mold that Arians looks to employ in his running game. He isn’t a guy who has a ton of miles on him yet and can come in and be a solid short-yardage back early, with the possibility of becoming more.
Round Projection: 5-7
Brandon Magee, LB, Arizona State – 5-11, 223 lbs
Analysis: Magee is a phenomenal athlete who shows plus quickness, change of direction and burst when on the field.
He is a better right now in pass coverage than as a run stopping linebacker, because he doesn’t possess ideal length for the linebacker position.
Too often, Magee will look to run around blockers to make a play instead of meeting them head up and moving them to make a play. This leaves the rest of his defense open for cut backs and big plays in the run game.
Fit: Magee is an interesting player because I am not sure where he fits in the Cardinals defensive scheme. His athleticism off the edge could be interesting, but he’s more adept at dropping into coverage now rather than rushing the passer and his shorter frame makes me wonder if he can ever play as a consistent pass rushing threat.
Magee would be an immediate impact player on special teams, and maybe with time and getting into the weight room, he could bulk up and slide inside, giving the Cardinals two exceptionally athletic middle linebackers in their 3-4 defense.
Round Projection: 7-UDFA