Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has been very adamant about one thing this offseason. If you end up drafting a player based on need, you're going to "bust." However, when he and general manager Steve Keim spoke to the media on Thursday about the team's draft plans, he also said that the team would draft players based on need. But he wasn't contradicting himself.
"You'll have four or five guys graded within a fraction of each other," Arians spoke about the team's draft board when their pick comes up each round. "If one of them is a need position, obviously that would take precedence over a strength on your team already."
Basically, if the team has set things up and graded players accordingly, they will decide "between three to five guys that are going to be all clumped together at that spot."
One thing is for sure, if the top offensive tackles aren't available at number seven, the team isn't going to draft a tackle just because. They will go with their board.
Now, a project is not something you will see the Cardinals drafting early on. After telling about how a coach suggested that the team look at a particular player in the first round, but said that he might not be ready to play right away, Keim was very up front. "If we draft this guy at seven, if he expects me to keep my job, he's going to play," Keim explained.
The gist? Whoever the Cardinals draft with their first pick will be expected to play and contribute right away.
So the formula is this in a perfect situation -- a player at a position of need that is graded better than or at least equal to other players, and that player will be able to step in and make an impact right away.
While this may seem at odds with how Ken Whisenhunt did things, I don't think that the rookie will get an automatic pass at starting. The team wants them to step in and play, but he will have to earn it. The difference is that they have to believe that he could start right away and be at least as good as the other guys already on the roster.
Thursday is the day. It won't be long until we know how the team had graded. The we can actually debate who is actually on the team rather than who might be.
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