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

Cam Akers #23 of the Los Angeles Rams runs with the ball as Zaven Collins #25 and Marco Wilson #20 ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 NFL Draft class lands at No. 13 in ESPN ranking

The group of Cardinals rookies led by CB Marco Wilson, WR Rondale Moore and LB Zaven Collins were among ESPN's top 15 NFL draft classes.
1 day ago
Adrian Wilson before the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers at the ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals’ Adrian Wilson being linked to Jaguars’ GM job

Cardinals VP of professional personnel Adrian Wilson is reportedly being targeted by the Jaguars for their general manager job.
1 day ago
Running back James Conner (Jeremy Grant Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

The 5: Arizona Cardinals’ in-house free agent priorities this offseason

The Cardinals certainly have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. A look at Arizona's biggest in-house free agent priorities:
2 days ago
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals grant $250K for new turf field at Phoenix elementary school

The Cardinals recently handed out a $250,000 grant for the installation of a synthetic turf field at James W. Rice Elementary School.
2 days ago
Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals returns an interception against the San Francisco 49ers at ...
Alex Weiner

Cardinals safety Budda Baker selected to PFWA All-NFC team

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker made the Professional Football Writers of America All-NFC team for the second straight year.
3 days ago
Owner Michael Bidwill (R) and general manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals look on during tr...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals engulfed in offseason chatter early on

It's been quite the roller coaster of conflicting reports since the Cardinals were bounced from the NFC Wild Card game just over a week ago.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals trade up for Rodney Gunter, who says he ‘potentially could be the next J.J. Watt’