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Kingsbury: Cardinals’ remote operations for draft not all that bad

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, talks with general manager Steve Keim, left, as the Cardinals NFL football players run sprints at State Farm Stadium Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Preparing for a virtual NFL Draft is a wealthy man’s first-world problem.

Considering the realities presented by the coronavirus, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury knows it’s nothing to fret about.

But Kingsbury told reporters on a video call Tuesday that there could even be a few benefits to a virtual draft, both in how the team is preparing for it and in how it will operate from April 23-25.

“There are challenges but it’s nothing compared to what the rest of the world is facing, you know, doctors and nurses and people working in stores. I mean, you got to keep things in perspective,” Kingsbury said from State Farm Stadium after donating in the team’s blood drive.

The NFL has ordered its franchises not to gather at offices during the draft, and Cardinals president and chairman Michael Bidwill has said that the team facility is to remain closed through April.

That means picking the next NFL stars will be done not so differently than your own fantasy football draft. Kingsbury believes that format change — without a war room at the team’s facility — might be a potential relief for general manager Steve Keim.

“Honestly, having talked with him, I think he’s kind of welcoming the solitude of it all,” Kingsbury said. “That’s a big day and there’s a lot of voices that can get in your head and a lot of clutter that can go on if you’re not careful. I know he’s excited to kind of have the process streamlined.”

The Cardinals’ IT department has helped make preparation easy for coaches and scouts. Calls, texts and Zoom meetings get the communicating done.

Coaches like Kingsbury have access to all the film they need to get to know prospects from the past college football seasons.

“My house, I’m just watching it on one of my TVs. I got the cowboy clicker I’m able to operate just as if I was in my office,” Kingsbury said.

Before coronavirus restrictions were put in place, teams attended the NFL Combine process that includes hurried in-person player interviews.

Teams have missed out on the allotted official prospect visits and didn’t get to attend the majority of pro days held at various college campuses, so in-person meetings have been missed. However, Kingsbury said the remote interviewing process has been smooth and as useful.

“I think with technology these days, it feels like it is in person. You have the Facetimes, you have the Zoom meetings — your sitdowns become that,” he said. “And honestly, a lot of these kids are more comfortable with doing that. They’re on Facetime 12 hours a day with their friends and people, and so you get the most comfortable version of them in that Facetime, honestly.

And when it comes down to the first day of the draft, Kingsbury isn’t worried about the Cardinals operating against a running clock. The pressure of the draft is high as it is.

“I’m sure we’ll still overthink it,” Kingsbury joked. “We always tend to do that.”


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