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Quentin Harris discusses his, others’ rise through Cardinals front office

Safety Quentin Harris #29 of the Arizona Cardinals yells during the game against the St. Louis Rams on November 20, 2005 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Rams 38-28. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New Cardinals director of player personnel Quentin Harris had his football career start in the basement.

Harris was undrafted out of Syracuse in the 2002 NFL Draft and landed in Cardinals camp not long after.

It’s something that Harris has kept with him his entire career.

“I’m still bitter to this day,” he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “When that draft comes around, there’s a little bit of anger in me because I wasn’t drafted, and that drove me.”

Harris played four seasons with the Cardinals from 2002-05, appearing in all 16 games for three of those years.

After a brief stint with the Broncos, Harris then moved into an off-the-field role with the Cardinals as a scout. He’s only worked his way up from there.

“Just a slow grind,” he said. “Hard work pays off.”

“If you ask me to hold the bag out on the field, I’m going to hold it.  That’s just my personality.”

Harris points to that attitude as to how he and others have made their face known and made their way the Cardinals ranks.

Holding the bag out on the field is something Harris witnessed former Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, now under Harris as the director of pro scouting, do the other day at practice.

“That’s why Adrian [Wilson] rose the way he did and how quickly he did because he could have came in the building, you know he’s Ring of Honor, and he came in with humility and just worked,” he said.

That’s a way of doing things he credits team owner Michael Bidwill with establishing.

“Michael [Bidwill] says this all the time: ‘This is our franchise. We’re a family. If there’s trash on the ground, pick it up,'” he said.  “Little things like that that Michael [Bidwill] talks about and you saw it with Adrian.”

But as Harris rises the Cardinals ranks, he realizes it may be his time to let others to do that now.

“I’m a big ‘in the trenches’ guy, getting my hands dirty,” he said. “Now with the expanded role, having to oversee two departments that makes it a little tougher to be in the trenches full-time. So it’s more of an overseeing role. Watching the top guys, that type of thing.

“I’m learning that I have to let go. That was something that was a little difficult, where, you’re used to just doing a lot of different things and now, guess what, Adrian Wilson step up, Chris Culmer (director of college scouting) step up. I’m learning to step back, let those guys who are very good at what they do, do their job just like Steve [Keim] did with me.”

But Harris still loves the things those under him are doing.

“Watching tape and finding players” is what he called his favorite part of the job.

“No different than a fan,” he said. “Fans would pay for this job, to watch football, and that’s what we do. Getting to know the player, yes that’s part of the process. But getting to watch tape; it’s finding that diamond in the rough. Finding the guy around now. Finding the undrafted free agent that makes the team and makes you proud.”

He cited recent Cardinals sixth-round draft pick Lamont Gaillard as a recent example.

“He was the guy, I put the tape on, I watched the LSU game, the Auburn game [and] the Alabama game and I’m like, ‘Wow, this guy is not giving up plays’ so he’d be the last guy I stood on the table for.”

The passion Harris has is what he hopes players strive for.

“You have to find that internal motivation because the external stuff, the money, the fame, all that stuff only takes you so far,” he said.

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