NFL Draft’s QB-driven progression led Cardinals to Haason Reddick

Apr 27, 2017, 8:33 PM | Updated: Apr 28, 2017, 11:28 am
Temple's Haason Reddick reacts after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round...

Temple's Haason Reddick reacts after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The best-player-on-the-board philosophy won out for the Arizona Cardinals on Day 1 of the NFL Draft when they selected Temple linebacker Haason Reddick at No. 13. Then again, that may not have been the plan.

Three spots ahead of Arizona, Kansas City traded up with Buffalo to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. One spot ahead of Arizona, Houston traded up to select Clemson quarterback and national champion Deshaun Watson, meaning three QBs went in the first 12 picks after the Bears traded up to pick Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2.

Did that factor into the Cardinals’ decision?

You’d probably have to watch a second season of “All or Nothing” to answer that question. General manager Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians weren’t offering up that information.

“They left the guy that we wanted on the board,” Keim said. “He was one of our top-five highest graded players in this whole draft. Going into this thing this weekend, coach and I talked about it over and over, no way did I anticipate that he would be there at 13. I thought that probably nine, 10 or 11, he’d be off the board.”

Regardless of whether the Cardinals are able to land that elusive quarterback of the future this year — and Arians believes there are a couple more good arms still left in this draft — the first round played out nicely if you like picking from an elite crop of defensive players. Eight of the 12 players selecting ahead of Arizona chose offensive players, so Reddick was the fifth defensive player selected in the draft.

Keim and Arians raved about his ability to overcome long odds in a powerful backstory. They love his speed, Arians loves the fact that he’s a Temple guy since Arians coached there from 1983-88, and both GM and coach love Reddick’s versatility, with Arians hesitating but still comparing him to Broncos linebacker Von Miller.

“Two for one is a big thing in our room,” Arians said. “When we get a guy who can play two positions equally great, that’s huge for us.

“He is a dynamic player. When you put a high motor with a 4.46 [40-yard dash] guy at that size … inside rush, outside rush, he destroyed those guys at the Senior Bowl in the one-on-one pass rushes, but what impressed me more was he’d never done it, but he went and covered the backs one-on-one and nobody caught a pass on him.”

The fact that Reddick could play inside doesn’t help Daryl Washington’s case as he looks to make a comeback after his three-year suspension ended with reinstatement this week. Keim was quick to quell any talk of Washington’s future when asked about it on Thursday.

“For the last 72 hours I’ve done nothing but stare at college tape and that draft board,” Keim said. “At the appropriate time we’ll address that, but I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t put a lot of thought into it.”

Keim said that time to ponder Washington would come after the draft. More immediately, Keim insisted that the Cardinals got as sure of a thing as you could find in the NFL Draft.

“I don’t want to say that it’s not a projection because they’re all projections, but I felt like it was a pretty easy pick,” Keim said.

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NFL Draft’s QB-driven progression led Cardinals to Haason Reddick