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Getting to Know Your Newest Cardinal: Calais Campbell

In the second round, the Cardinals chose to do what few teams did in the 2008 draft. They stood pat and took the best player that fell to them. Even though they saw six trades happen ahead of them in just 18 picks in the second round the Cardinals decided that they’d keep their picks and cash by getting a guy that fits their new system perfectly. Calais Campbell is a mountain of a man (6’8 282) and at that size he’s the perfect size to bookend one side a 3-4 defensive line. If Campbell would have come out in 2006 (10.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss) he’d have been a first round lock but he struggled a bit his junior year (6 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss). He started the ’07 season on tear with 25 tackles, 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, three QB pressures, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception while Miami jumped to a 4-1 start. Campbell’s final seven games though would deliver just another 25 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2 QB pressures as Miami stumbled down the stretch finishing 5-6.

The Good: Campbell has the sudden explosive burst that’s needed from a defensive end and has the strength to stand stout against the run. He does a good job of maintaining proper leverage despite his height. Campbell isn’t particularly fast bust still chases down plays from behind because his motor never stops. He uses his long arms to keep blockers away and knock down passes.

Campbell_mediumThe Bad: It’s not coincidence that Campbell fell all the way to the Cardinals. He had a disappointing junior campaign (by his standards) and followed it up with less than impressive workouts. He’ll have to get better at keeping blockers off his legs as he will always be a target for a good cut block and when he loses the leverage battle and gets to high, he’s virtually ineffective. His strength is a question mark to some but it should be less of an issue at defensive end instead of tackle.

The Bottom Line: Campbell was a disappointment in 2007 but he’s still the same animal that was nearly unstoppable in ’06. The Hurricanes as a team fell off the wagon after a good start and Campbell’s play started to suffer as the losses mounted. With the Cardinals having starting defensive ends in place Campbell should be able to learn the system for a year while contributing in the defensive line rotation. Look for Campbell to slip into defensive tackle on passing downs where his pass rush ability as well as height could be a legit competitive advantage.

So is there someone else you would have wanted the Cardinals to make a run at? Maybe a RB, with 'home run speed', or a offensive linemen?