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Steve Keim: Trading down, not up, in NFL Draft ‘more likely’ for Cardinals

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals find themselves smack dab in middle of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at 16th overall.

Their spot in the pecking order opens up a few scenarios for general manager Steve Keim to ponder being outside of the top-15. Is trading the pick the right move or should Arizona stand pat?

But of the draft day possibilities, making a move up the draft board does not appear to be in the cards for Keim and the Cardinals.

Moving down, however? That’s a whole other ballgame.

“It would be very enticing. In fact, if you had to weigh it out, with six picks and where we’re sitting, I think it’d be more likely to trade back than to trade up. That’s one thing,” Keim said Thursday.

“As far as trading back and accumulating more picks, it’s not different than a lottery ticket. The more you have the better you have the chance to hit. We know it’s an inexact business and to be able to accumulate more picks would be a real coup for us.”

With the Cardinals entering the draft without a third- and fourth-round selection — traded away as part of the DeAndre Hopkins and Rodney Hudson deals — Arizona has much less draft capital to work with, making it more of a stretch it swings a deal to move up. Not that the Cardinals complaining, having turned the picks into two proven starters.

Luckily for Keim, the draft class presents a number of deep position groups for the Cardinals to consider, including another stacked wide receiver group led by LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.

“I think it’s a really deep receiver class and they all have different traits, especially the guys at the top,” Keim said. “They’re all different sizes, they have different skillsets, whether they can play X or Z or do some things in the return game.

“To me, I think there’s gonna be five or six guys that could potentially go in the first round. We’ve already seen as many as three can go in the top-15 picks. … But there’s a number of other players. … The depth at that position is very, very good.”

Staying on the topic of wide receivers, Keim pinpointed two pass catchers in Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman and Florida’s Kadarius Toney who could provide a lot of value as late first-round, early second-round picks.

Both wide receivers have actually been mocked to the Cardinals by a handful of analysts, albeit with the 16th overall pick and not a later selection.

Wide receiver isn’t the only position viewed as deep, though, with the defensive side of the football also bringing some intriguing late rounders for Keim to consider.

“The outside linebacker class, guys who are college defensive ends that project as outside linebackers which would be our Sam and our Wills. That group has been impressive to me,” Keim said. “Guys that are going to be able to come in and start at an early point in their career. A lot of the inside linebackers, guys who can play Mike or MO in our scheme. There’s a number of guys who are athletic enough to play MO and play dime linebacker, or there’s guys that can be the Mike for you and play all three downs with the cover ability you look for.

“Those are the positions that really stand out to me. I like some of the guys who are inside players, the guards and the centers. There’s enough depth in this draft that gets you excited even with some of the players going back to college.”


Phillips Law Group

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