With the 2011 NFL Draft only 22 days away, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is determined to take both need and value into account when it comes to selecting the team’s picks.
“You have to stay true to your process of how you evaluate players,” Whisenhunt said in an interview with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live. “When it comes your chance to pick you have to really analyze not only what your team needs are but also the type of player that’s there.”
After a 5-11 season that garnered the Cardinals the fifth overall pick, experts around the nation differ on the player the team will choose. Players like Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller, Patrick Peterson and Cam Newton have all been speculated selections, each for different reasons and to different reactions from the fanbase.
Which player will be selected is still completely dependent on how the cards fall with the first four picks. Doing his best Lady Gaga impersonation, Whisenhunt doesn’t plan on revealing which player he hopes will be there when the Cardinals are put on the clock.
“Sometimes you can’t overlook the fact that there might be a player that you don’t specifically have a need for, but he is graded so much higher than the players that are on the board at that point that you would have to consider him,” Whisenhunt said. “If you’re in range of a guy that you think fills a specific need and yet he is graded high enough, then you’ve got to be ready to try to move if you feel like you have the need to try to get him.”
The coach compared his statement to the Cardinals’ trading up for linebacker Daryl Washington last season. The team believed Washington was a first round talent and that their need at inside linebacker gave them enough reason to move to the Patriots’ spot to draft the TCU star.
The obvious need this offseason is a quarterback who can make some throws to Larry Fitzgerald and put the team on his back when they need him to most. The big question though is if the team’s next quarterback will come out of the draft.
“It’s really a balancing act that you have to have conviction about how you’re picking or what your plan is,” Whisenhunt said. “When it comes near our pick we’re definitely looking at what our needs are but we’re also looking at what the players are.”
With the season — if there is one — still months away, fans are already clamoring for a new arm under center.
Whisenhunt isn’t afraid to stick to his formula, though. It may not be a player at the position everyone wants, but talent won’t be overlooked.