TEMPE, Ariz. — Without a doubt, a team would prefer to have a player with high character opposed to one who does not.
However, often times talent trumps everything, and teams take a chance on someone with questionable habits or tendencies in order to add someone with undeniable skill.
Four picks into the 2014 NFL Draft, it’s clear the Cardinals have put an emphasis on not just the player, but also the person he is.
Deone Bucannan was a captain at Washington State. Kareem Martin held that honor at North Carolina. John Brown did the same at Pittsburg State.
“It talks about the character of a player,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of being a team captain. “John Brown was a three-time captain I believe, and Kareem was a captain I believe, so anytime you put a ‘C’ on their chest in college, the respect of their teammates and coaches is there. That says a lot and speaks volumes for me, as far as football character.”
That can come up big at times.
“I’ve always been a leader by example,” Martin said. “This past season, the biggest thing I did was step up vocally. The guys would listen to what I say and I found that out. I kind of ran with it from there.
“Just being a vocal leader this past season really, I think, is one of the things that turned our season around after such a slow start.”
Talent matters, but it’s not the only thing that helps a team win games.
Part of what made last year’s Cardinals so successful is the leadership the team had in the locker room. Of course, the Cardinals aren’t just picking players because they are hard workers or nice guys. But there is no doubt the team has placed an emphasis on things that are not always seen on the field itself.