Arizona Cardinals trade up for Rodney Gunter, who says he ‘potentially could be the next J.J. Watt’

May 2, 2015, 6:29 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — Who is Rodney Gunter?

He is a defensive end who played at Delaware State. He’s 6-foot-5 and 305 lbs. He’s a cousin of former Arizona Cardinals tight end D.C. Jefferson. He can supposedly dunk a basketball, and the Cardinals liked him enough to trade away three picks — 123 (4th round), 198 (6th round) and 241 (7th round) — for number 116, where they took him in the fourth round.

“I’m very versatile,” Gunter said of his game. “I can bring a hard-working guy, and I potentially could be the next J.J. Watt.”

Lofty comparison, yes, but Gunter said his goal is to be the best he can be, so that’s the goal.

Getting drafted is a start.

Gunter said he expected to be picked sometime in round five or later, but it was “a blessing, a dream come true” to go in the fourth to Arizona.

So what exactly are the Cardinals getting?

Gunter can play both defensive end and defensive tackle, and last season, as a senior wracked up seven sacks along with 13 tackles for loss. He is still a bit of a raw prospect, as he only played one year of high school football before moving on to college.

He had a good reason.

“I had to help my mom out,” he said. “She was a single parent, struggling, and I was the oldest boy out of three boys and I had to get a job. I was a dishwasher; I was a waiter. I had to make ends meet.

“I eventually played my senior year in high school. I loved the game so much, it was killing me that I was not playing football.”

Once he got onto the field, he showed enough potential to get onto NFL teams’ radars, and the Cardinals saw enough to convince them he was worth trading up for.

“Man, that says they’re really interested in me, they really believe in me,” Gunter said of what Arizona gave up to acquire him. “I’m going to take that into consideration every time I step on the field or come to meetings, meeting the coaches. They really believe in me. I thank God for that. It’s a blessing, a dream come true. I’m so speechless right now.”

The plan is to let his play do most of the talking.

Gunter said he was underrated coming out of high school and enters the NFL with a chip on his shoulder. With the Cardinals he expects to play as an outside rusher on first and second down, then move inside on third and maybe fourth down.

He’s ready for whatever is asked of him, bringing a level of maturity he thinks other prospects may not possess.

“I’m not coming in complacent,” he said. “I’m coming in a hard worker, coming in with the mind set of a free agent trying to make the roster.”

Highlights:

Arizona Cardinals

James Conner #6 and Byron Murphy #7 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate as they run off the field af...
Arizona Sports

NFL Network’s Rosenthal projects Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 starters

With OTAs next week, NFL Network's Gregg Rosenthal projected the 2022 starters for the Arizona Cardinals with notes about every position.
14 hours ago
A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs after his catch from David Long #22 of the Los Angeles...
Arizona Sports

The Athletic’s Jones: Cardinals-Rams in Week 3 a must-watch game in 2022

Of the Cardinals' 2022 slate, The Athletic's Lindsay Jones believes the Week 3 matchup against the Rams stands out above the rest.
14 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) in action during the first half of the National Foot...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals 2022 preseason schedule finalized

Specific dates and times for the Arizona Cardinals to face the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans in the preseason were not yet set.
2 days ago
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals’ Vance Joseph, Quentin Harris participating in NFL Accelerator program

Cardinals DC Vance Joseph and VP of player personnel Quentin Harris are taking part in the NFL Coach and Front Office Accelerator program.
2 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals on the field before the game against the Seattl...
Tyler Drake

The 5: Familiar faces Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury will see in 2022

Not only will Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury take on his former head coach in 2022, he'll also face former players, teammates and colleagues.
2 days ago
Cincinnati DL Myjai Sanders (21) during a college football game between the Tulsa Golden Hurricane ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals sign rookie OLB Myjai Sanders to a 4-year deal

The Arizona Cardinals signed rookie outside linebacker Myjai Sanders to a four-year deal on Wednesday morning.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals trade up for Rodney Gunter, who says he ‘potentially could be the next J.J. Watt’