Cardinals Flight Plan Episode 3: What did we learn from the NFL Combine?

A certain Oklahoma quarterback was the main focus of the episode

Cardinals Flight Plan has offered a solid, in-depth and behind-the-scenes look at the process behind the Arizona Cardinals daily operations in short 15 minute episodes on Facebook Watch.

  1. Steve Keim carried his “heart and mind” mantra from Bruce Arians but also talked about an evolving philosophy

Keim essentially, as everyone knows, had the worst year of his personal and professional career in 2018.

He returned to the Cardinals as Steve Wilks and that staff departed with a new young head coach and a seemingly renewed effort as well as leadership position.

Previously, Bruce Arians was the one who took a lot of the limelight. Kingsbury, while interviewing often, seems content to stay a bit out of the spotlight, for now, at least as the center and vocal leader.

It will be interesting as Keim came under a lot of criticism last year for not putting together a talented enough team and while Arizona has doubled down, he seems to be the driving force in the organization to rally around, different from when it was Bruce Arians leading the charge or Steve Wilks in the spotlight.

The following, especially, was a point Keim hammered home multiple times in a meeting with the scouting staff and coaches:

Whether this is a criticism of some players previously that mistakes were made on in the past or an identifier of successes based on players, the Cardinals are looking for that passion in the draft this year.

2. Did the Cardinals fire a shot at Charley Casserly?

When playing some clips of media people in Indianapolis, one of the quotes discussed if it was a smokescreen or real and the audio ended with “None of us know.” with a paused shot of Casserly before the next segment began.

Hmmm…

Casserly, as those who listen most national media outlets would know, put out two controversial sourced opinions about Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen just after the combine:

Casserly followed up with a critique of Rosen shortly afterwards about a week later, as well:

The way it was timed almost lined up the audio with the image of Casserly perfectly, as if to say “You don’t know what you’re doing, either.”

Was it intentional?

I’d like to think so, especially given how the negative feedback it’s caused has seemed to only hurt Casserly’s credibility.

3. The Cardinals don’t just look at the drills but at how a player handles the pressure of the combine

With an increased media presence at the NFL Combine seemingly every year, the Cardinals have an interesting approach in evaluating how a player also handles the pressure of the Combine as there’s little sleep, little explanation and little room for error for many.

Dru Grigson, director of college scouting, sets up the team interviews with notes on each player to craft a sort of “story” to help drive each one. This could detail injury notice or even difficult questions like going from “your favorite touchdown play” to “and how did you feel about your high school arrest?” or the like.

Some teams, reportedly, did staring contests even this year. The Cardinals, instead, broke down film.

They put a lot of emphasis on “confidence” and those who relished or showed it and were part of the moment. This does make some sense as, like diamonds, truly the NFL values guys who go off when the lights go on in the interviews.

Speaking of interviews…

4. Was that Kyler Murray visiting with the Arizona Cardinals?!?!? (and two wide receivers, I guess)

Very rarely do we get to look inside of a team’s operations to see them meeting with certain draft prospects ahead of time. Teams don’t really HIDE who they meet with but their intentions are certainly hidden, and to get enough access to see inside the room where the interviews happen was definitely remarkable access

As remarkable as the players who came in and interviewed, pictured below were:

Wide Receiver D.K. Metcalf

Wide Receiver Andy Isabella

Quarterback…

Yep. It was known that the Cardinals met with Murray at the Combine but it was definitely interesting to see a glimpse of him meeting with the team and breaking down film. The other two names, of course, might hold potentially more intrigue, however.

Isabella worked with one of AZ’s offensive coaches for years and they know him well. With elite college production and a 4.31 40 time at the combine, his speed would be a welcome addition.

D.K. Metcalf as well blew away the majority of the drills running a similar speed to Isabella but at 230 lbs with a huge vertical and reps on the bench press. He’s probably not leaving the top 5 picks. While it’s not likely Arizona takes him at one, some might see him as the wide reciever to replace Larry Fitzgerald if the team does make a trade.

But Murray was, of course, the main story and for some, Arizona’s continued interest demonstrates that he might indeed end up their top overall pick.

5. Nick Bosa was all over the episode.

Not a surprise as Bosa is indeed according to many draft experts the best player in the draft. And while Arizona definitely met with him at the combine they only showed offensive players inside their meetings.

But from the interviews to the runs, his presence was definitely felt as he had a top-pick worthy workout. Quinnen Williams also got a bit of love as well. It’s not really something to read into, though…is it?

Doubtful.

But it is interesting as it did set up the juxtaposition that the Cardinals might face this year with their choice if they aren’t trading down (or can’t) from the top overall selection:

Kyler or Bosa?

The QB or the QB hunter?

That will be what the organization has to decide over the next few months.

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