* While the Tampa Bay Bucs were stealing the headlines yesterday due to the Gronk trade---which halted ESPN’s Mock Draft Special in its tracks after 13 picks (a couple pf minutes after Josh Weinfuss picked DT Derrick Brown for the Cardinals and right after the 49ers’ ESPN writer picked WR Henry Ruggs, gosh dang-it)---the Cardinals received the bad news that Backup QB Brett Hundley has been sued by his ex-wife for domestic violence abuse.
* The Cardinals traditionally do not waste any time releasing a player who has been accused of domestic violence. Hundley and his lawyer are counter-suing Hundley’s ex-wife and calling her lawsuit an act of “extortion.” However, her description of the abuses is horrifying, some of which include the allegations that Hundley threw her into a garage door, broke her ankle and smashed her down on a pool table. If there is photographic evidence of his ex-wife’s injuries, then Hundley is going to have a difficult time refuting the evidence.
* As much as the Cardinals like Brett Hundley, we can expect Michael Bidwill to act quickly on this. Bidwill is not going to let something like this linger.
* A free agent QB who might make the most sense is 26 year old Kyle Sloter (6-5, 218, Northern Colorado) who spent most of last season on the Cardinals’ practice squad and thus knows the Cardinals’ offense. Sloter played lights-out during the last two pre-seasons with the Vikings. He was pilfered off the Cardinals’ PS late in the year by the Lions and they released him after the season.
* I imagine the Cardinals have done some good homework on the Day 3 QBs in the draft because it would be smart of them to develop a QB3. Free agent Chris Streveler is going to be a QB3 of sorts---but much in the way Taysom Hill is used in New Orleans. Thus, I think there’s a 50/50 chance that the Cardinals will draft a QB on Day 3 to compete with Drew Anderson for the QB3 spot. With PSs expanding to 12 players this year, many teams will be carrying a QB3 on their PSs this season, the way the Cardinals did last year with only 10 PS players.
* Of the Day 3 QBs most likely available, the ones who make the most sense are Anthony Gordon (6-2, 210, Washington St.), Cole McDonald (6-3, 190, Hawaii), Bryce Perkins (6-2, 215, Virginia), James Morgan (6-4, 223, FIU), Steven Montez (6-4, 230, Colorado) and Tyler Huntley (6-0, 200, Utah).
* For those of you who are disgruntled with the thought of the Cardinals taking DT Derrick Brown, I too was feeling a little leery of the pick until last week when I decided I had better do more research on him. The more and more that I watched his game tapes and learned about his leadership (comes from a military background) and his maturity (has a 1 year old son whom he adores), the more convinced I became that he would be an outstanding addition to the team.
* DTs are the most difficult to assess because they seem to flash only a few times a game. On most plays they seem to get locked up by the guard or a guard/center double team. For example, when I watched Chris Jones’ tape at Mississippi St., there were so many times he got locked up and taken out of the play that it made me wonder whether he had the motor and stamina to be a good pro. Now look at him.
* With Derrick Brown his motor is non-stop and his freakish power and surprising athleticism for a player his size allow him to wear down the opponent and by the 4th quarter dominate his man. Derrick Brown is a closer and playmaker late in games---he gets stronger as the game proceeds. That is a rarity for high energy DTs who never come off the field.
* The area of Brown’s game that needs to improve the most, imo, is his ability to disengage from his block in time to tackle running/scrambling QBs. In today’s NFL, so many teams now are employing highly athletic, quick interior rushers who can slip off blocks and get to mobile QBs who try to bolt from the pocket. In a sense, nickel DT are becoming athletic chasers.
* Derrick Brown often does an amazing job of collapsing the pocket with his patented bull rush and swim move, but there are too many times when the QB runs right past him, because Brown is still collapsing the pocket and his head is not in a position to see the QB.
* I very much believe that Brown can be coached to pass rush with better vision, pad level and awareness---so that he can slip quickly off his blocks and take the romance out of the QB scramble.
* But, most DTs can’t do even half of what Brown does---and most DTs can’t react quickly enough to scrambling QBs. I would estimate that 99% of the DTs on the planet can’t dominate versus the run the way Brown can. And when you think about the way the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams love to run the football in our own division, having Brown on the interior of our defensive line would be a major coup. I cannot stress that enough.
* I know some of you harken back to the frustrations we felt about NT Dan Williams’s and DT Robert Nkemdiche’s slow development---but the major difference between Dan Willams, Robert Nkemdiche and Derrick Brown is that Derrick Brown will come to camp in great shape. That’s been a major problem for the Cardinals up front, especially since Calais Campbell moved on, our DTs seem very sluggish out of the gate and it takes them weeks to get in shape if the injury bug doesn’t get them first, as it often does to players who come to camp out of shape. Derrick Brown would turn the tide on all of that and would inspire the others around him to prepare the way he does.
* It must have been some sort of nifty coincidence, but just after spending two days doing more research on Derrick Brown, I read an article in the Boston Globe about Bill Belichick’s defensive philosophies by position---and #1 on his list is “you have to start with big guys up front who can dominate the middle and keep the linebackers clean.” Yup. A couple of his other top priorities that might impress you: “CBs, first and foremost have to be able to force the run” and “safeties, first and foremost have to be able to cover, especially well against TEs.”
* I am getting the sense that the Cardinals are moving in the direction of the Patriots when it comes to how to prioritize the defensive personnel. The Cardinals’ three free agent additions on defense, DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Devon Kennard and WILB De’Vondre Campbell are all Patriot-esque types of players in terms of size, strength and athletic ability. With those three it all starts with their ability to defend the run.
* I think that if Derrick Brown, Isaiah Simmons and Jeffrey Okudah are off the board at #8, the Cardinals should feel free to select their top rated offensive player, be it Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs. Each one of the players in his own way makes a ton of sense, as would Andrew Thomas and Jerry Jeudy. If 5 or all 6 of these players are still on the board, it could make a lot of sense to trade down within 6-7 spots, that is, if the Cardinals have equal grades on them.
* I am starting to wonder whether WR CeeDee Lamb will be on the board at #8. There has been a lot of noise about teams wanting to trade up for him. I could see the Raiders moving up from #12 to #7 (Panthers), as one example. If the Falcons find a way to move up to the top 7, it would likely be for T Derrick Brown or CB C.J. Henderson.