ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals see versatility in draft additions to defensive line

Apr 28, 2020, 6:30 PM

(Getty Images)...

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The focus of the Arizona Cardinals’ draft, especially on the defensive side of the ball, was put on the versatile Isaiah Simmons from Clemson. The versatility, though, may not end there.

Arizona had two fourth-round picks and used them both on defensive tackles, getting Leki Fotu out of Utah 114th overall and Rashard Lawrence from LSU at 131st overall. That will bolster a defensive line that added Jordan Phillips this offseason to go along with nose tackle Corey Peters.

Keim spoke highly of the versatility of both Fotu and Lawrence when he joined SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan.

“I think there’s a little more versatility there,” Keim said of Fotu. “I thought I saw a little bit of [Buccaneers DT] Vita Vea in him when I was looking at him. Bruce Arians called me and said the same thing right after we picked him and said he loved him, and thought there were some similarities as well.

“But I think the one thing that takes this guy out of the conventional thinking of your traditional nose is he’s got the quickness to get off the edges. He’s got some range to laterally close and chase the ball. So I think this guy’s got a little more to him and I think there’s even more upside to develop.”

Fotu had 30 games played in college, and last year as a senior had 25 tackles, 6.5 for loss, in only nine games. In 10 games his junior year, Fotu made 34 tackles, seven for loss, to go along with 3.5 sacks. He was an All-American rugby player in high school, and has three brothers who have played college football. Anthony Fotu, one of his brothers, played at Arizona.

“I think when you look at Leki’s size, everyone assumes that he’s a run-stopper,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Tuesday. “But the scheme they played at Utah, he was really coached to keep the linebackers clean. So he’s in more of a square stance, he’s more catching blocks, he’s just eating gaps. But when you watch this guy move and run, I think once you put him into an attack stance and allow him to go vertical and to be disruptive, he’s going to be a pretty good pass-rusher as far as pushing the pocket.

“This guy, he’s going to play across the board for us — nose, three technique and the four and the five for us. When we watched his tape, it was really good football as far as the movement for a big guy, and how hard he played, too. It’s hard to find big guys with those kind of motors that play that way every snap.”

Then there’s Lawrence, who played 12 games last year for LSU and had 28 tackles with 2.5 sacks. His big year was in 2018, when he had 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks. In the National Championship Game against Clemson, Lawrence had three tackles, one for a loss.

“[LSU] Coach [Ed Orgeron]’s the one who called me personally about Lawrence,” Joseph said. “We were tracking him for the whole draft. He was one of Coach Orgeron’s favorite players as a team leader, as a worker, as a technician. And Coach O coaches D-Line for a living. So he knows what it looks like.”

Joseph’s brother Mickey is the wide receivers coach at LSU. Keim said that, along with other relationships, helped the Cardinals get strong intel on Lawrence.

“I think the one thing you take away is he’s just a good football player, and more than anything he’s got that alpha male mentality, he’s a leader, he’s a grown man and a true pro,” Keim said on SiriusXM.

“So to be able to add two defensive linemen, one with size and tremendous upside and quickness and then another one who can play at a number of spots as well, I think he can play the zero, the three, the five, I think he can bounce around a little bit for you, and then what he brings to our locker room in terms of the intangibles, was really exciting to me.”

Presented By
Western Governors University

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Rome Odunze...

Alex Weiner

How did Rome Odunze measure at NFL Draft Combine after meeting with Cardinals?

Before taking the field to run the 40-yard dash, Rome Odunze met with several teams sitting atop the draft, including the Cardinals.

5 hours ago

Olumuyiwa Fashanu...

Jesse Morrison

NFL Draft OL prospect Olu Fashanu had ‘smooth meeting’ with Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon

One of the top prospects in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu seemed interested in the Cardinals at the NFL combine.

9 hours ago

JC Latham...

Alex Weiner

Alabama OT JC Latham met with Cardinals, says playing with Kyler Murray would be a ‘dream’

JC Latham met with the Cardinals at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he was enthusiastic about the prospects of playing with Kyler Murray. 

9 hours ago

Quinyon Mitchell runs 40-yard dash at combine...

Jesse Morrison

With Cardinals needing cornerback, Nate Wiggins, Quinyon Mitchell excel at NFL combine

The Arizona Cardinals need to address cornerback and two corners, Quinyon Mitchell and Nate Wiggins, showed out in Friday testing.

13 hours ago

Terrion Arnold looks on...

Tyler Drake

‘He did jam me:’ Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon goes 1-on-1 with Terrion Arnold at NFL Combine

Jonathan Gannon confirmed Terrion Arnold jammed him up during the defensive back's formal interview with the Cardinals at the NFL Combine.

19 hours ago

Marvin Harrison Jr. celebrates...

Tyler Drake

Gannon: Cardinals ‘had really good interview’ with Marvin Harrison Jr. at NFL Draft Combine

Marvin Harrison Jr. was among the plethora of prospects the Arizona Cardinals met with at the NFL Draft Combine this week.

1 day ago

Cardinals see versatility in draft additions to defensive line