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2016 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals add two character grades to prospect evaluations

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The team is trying to balance how to weigh risk with reward.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals completed their 120-player draft board. There were a pair of additions to the evaluation process. As part of putting a draft grade on players, they have added character to the process, but not just personal character, They have also added a football character grade,

Head coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim spoke with the media on Tuesday, speaking about the draft and their evaluation process and Arians praised ths idea.

"I think Steve and his staff did an outstanding job this year; we added a football character grade and a character grade to each and every individual player, and it's really helped when we started stacking the 120 board," Arians said. "Those two issues were standing there, staring you in the face. It was a great idea."

There are always a number of players who do dumb things in college. Some are just immature things and other things are a real concern. Some involve substance abuse and others involve things they say or even violence. This is a way to know whether a guy should come off the board.

Basically, if there is a guy the team likes, but has questions about, they look at the person and the type of player he is and the type of character he has on the field and in the locker room, in addition to how he is off the field.

"Really it essentially is a checks-and-balances system where players are graded from A to F on personal character and graded from A to F on football character, so there may be players that have had some issues in the past," he explained. "Off the field, a lot of these college kids make mistakes. It's a great balance to understand, 'OK, he's made some mistakes, but his football character is tremendous. He's been a hard worker, he's got great intangibles, he's a great teammate.'"

Tyrann Mathieu is a perfect example. Yes, he got kicked off the team. But when you saw him on the field, he was relentless. His teammates and coaches gave him glowing praise, but he was in the wrong crowds. His love for football (football character) won out.

There are some players who you wonder about. Pass rusher Noah Spence managed to get himself kicked off the team at Ohio State -- which is a feat, really. Does he have the football character to overcome his lifestyle that cost him a scholarship at one of the biggest football programs?

Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is another one. Does he play on the field and fit well in the locker room to balance out his personality quirks and the strange thing that happened off the field when he was either drunk or high or even maybe both.

It comes down to this --

"if we're willing to take a risk, it's going to be a risk on a guy who has great football character," Keim said.

Keim says every season they don't really miss on football players. They miss on the person. They look for love of football and passion for the game. That can overcome off-field incidents. It worked with Tyrann Mathieu. It has not for Daryl Washington.

Will the Cardinals take a risk on someone, and will it be early?