PHOENIX – The Arizona Cardinals’ biggest needs were quarterback and linebacker heading into the draft.
So, it came as a shock when they selected running back Ryan Williams with their second round pick and tight end Rob Housler with their third round pick.
“We didn’t want to allow our needs to overshadow the opportunity to take outstanding players,” said general manger Rod Graves.
The organization used the same philosophy one day earlier, when they selected cornerback Patrick Peterson with their first round pick, but the drafting of Williams was a bit of a shocker considering the depth the team has at that position already with Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt believes Williams, who the team had rated as the 15th best player in the entire draft, was too good to pass up.
“He brings a lot of things to the table as a running back that are pretty unique,” said Whisenhunt.
“He gives you the potential of a home run threat as well as a guy that can grind it out for three or four yards. To me, that’s a good combination.”
Whisenhunt said the drafting of Williams wasn’t done with the purpose of sending a message to the current running backs on the roster, but he did point out one major difference in Williams.
“He hasn’t fumbled in two years. I like that because that’s certainly been an issue for our running backs the last couple of years,” said Whisenhunt.
The organization didn’t drop any hints about trading or releasing Wells or Hightower, so most likely the running back position will be one of the stiffest competitions in Training Camp.
“Competition has shown that it makes us a better football team. I don’t think any one of those guys is afraid of competition. Bringing in a player like Ryan Williams is only going to make us better,” said Whisenhunt.
The Cardinals coach was equally excited about the dynamic possibilities that Rob Housler will bring to the passing game.
Housler is a 6-5, 247-pound tight end with incredible speed for somebody that plays that position. He was clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-time at the combine.
“He brings a unique skill set to the position. As much as we run three wide receiver sets that, when you add a combination of a guy who has that type of speed and receiving ability, it can make you a very dynamic offense,” said Whisenhunt.
Despite their excitement over the first three picks, the Cardinals still aren’t any closer to solving the biggest question marks surrounding the team like who will be the quarterback.
Graves said the team will probably explore other avenues to address any other needs after the draft concludes.
“We’ve decided as an organization to be aggressive. We are expecting at some point to have a free agency period and an opportunity to discuss trades,” said Graves.
Some fans will bemoan that the Cardinals didn’t use the draft to address the team’s biggest needs, but the organization decided they would take the best overall player available rather than reaching for a player that wasn’t as good.
“We’re looking for players that can make an impact with our club. That’s what’s important to us,” said Whisenhunt.