What we can believe: Cardinals GM Keim keeping NFL Draft options open
TEMPE, Ariz. — Nine days out from the NFL Draft, over-analysis of Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim’s final pre-draft press conference on Tuesday was unavoidable.
He was either going to lie to build a market for his current quarterback, Josh Rosen, and the No. 1 overall pick, or utilize some form of reverse psychology to manipulate his NFL peers. Or would the truth do the latter for him?
It’s all very confusing.
Let’s stick with Keim’s most truthful statement from his 20-minute press conference shared with Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
“When it comes to this press conference and you guys think that this is misinformation, I mean, we’re not the only ones spitting it out,” Keim said before peppering some sarcasm on top. “The fact that I don’t know what we’re doing and everyone else does, that’s concerning.”
“Everyone” believes the Cardinals will draft Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray over Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.
They are viewed as the three best prospects in this draft class, but Murray’s fit has led most to assume the diminutive signal-caller and Heisman winner is the favorite to land under Kingsbury in Arizona.
Maybe the most clear thing that came across in Keim’s press conference was that the Cardinals are keeping this search for the truth so closed-door because the general manager is excited to see trade offers for the No. 1 pick grow heading into April 25. Keim didn’t want to discuss specifics out of respect for other NFL teams but did say he’s taken calls about the top pick.
Speculating about the threshold for what it’d take to trade out of one depends on the picks received and players potentially left at those slots.
“If it’s compensation you can’t pass up, and it’s the next three drafts of some of these teams, you’d have to consider it,” Keim said.
The general manager even went as far as admitting he’s not afraid to make a draft-day trade, something he’s done nine times since taking over in 2013.
Keim traded up from 15th to 10th to draft Rosen a year ago. A year before that, he moved from 45th to 36th, grabbing safety Budda Baker out of Washington before also moving up to select safety Rudy Ford in the sixth round.
In each of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 drafts, Keim maneuvered down five times to land more picks. Three of those trades came in the first two rounds.
“I get excited. I mean, I like to do deals,” the GM said. “But at the same time, I like good players.”
As for keeping that No. 1 pick, things can change between now and the time he calls the selection in.
Keim was asked why he is open to drafting another quarterback after trading up to select Josh Rosen in last year’s draft, and the GM brought the coyness.
“I never said I was,” he said.
That’s true. At the NFL Draft Combine more than a month ago, he did, however, speak openly about scouting Murray, who along with Bosa and Williams have visited the Cardinals facilities.
So if Keim isn’t open to selecting a quarterback again, does that mean he’s against it? He didn’t say that, either.
“We are not done with this process. We have not made a decision with the first overall pick,” Keim said. “… there are a number of players, in my opinion and our scouts’ opinion and our coaching staff’s opinion, that warrant being the number one overall selection.”
Take that for what it’s worth.
The Cardinals have wrapped up a “horizontal” draft board consisting of 400-450 prospects. Next up, they will create positional rankings to build that group up; visually, imagine assigning players at every position with a standardized grade to build the vertical part of a board.
Finally, to create a top 120 board, Keim and his scouts will apply the “Cardinal filter,” a litmus test that values character, medical issues and a players’ ability to process information.
“There are going to be players, and players drafted high, that do not make it on our board,” Keim said.
Keim, Kingsbury and team president Michael Bidwill will ultimately huddle to discuss what they’ll do at No. 1 and beyond. But why haven’t they discussed the most important pick at this point?
“Cause we have time,” Keim said.
MURRAY’S BASEBALL-FOOTBALL CHOICE
Of the items Keim did address was Murray’s decision to forego a career with the Oakland A’s for football.
“I think whoever drafts him is certainly going to have to address that with him,” the GM said.
Keim said the Cardinals “maybe” discussed that topic when they met with Murray, who was a first-round pick by the A’s.
PUMPING UP ROSEN?
Allow the Cardinals to either express their confidence in Rosen as the quarterback of the future or explain why another team should should give them a package in exchange for the second-year pro:
“He’s been phenomenal. He couldn’t have been better, honestly,” Kingsbury said. “First one to show up, engaging, into it, very sharp as everybody knows.”
Added Keim: “We’ve had good dialog. He is a pro’s pro, and the one thing that I’ve appreciated about him the most since we’ve drafted him, the kid has an unbelievable amount of mental toughness. Physical toughness, mental toughness, Josh Rosen has it all.”
ABOUT THAT QUINNEN GUY
Keim went long on his over-arching scouting report on Williams.
“Dominant defender. I know his production is moreso this year, but an interior player that is that dominating at that size has been fun to watch,” he said. “Kind of reminds me back of days when I went and watched (Richard) Seymour and (Marcus) Stroud and (John) Henderson and those guys coming out — a big, dominating presence who can take over games. You watch the LSU game, it was almost like a highlight tape.”