Arizona Cardinals: 2014 NFL Combine

Picking 20th in May's NFL draft doesn't bode well for the Arizona Cardinals landing a top-tier offensive tackle, especially after the way some of them performed during the NFL combine.

But that's not to say the Cards won't have their pick of the litter when it comes to improving at left tackle. Although it's by no means scientific, a handful of tackles have been linked to the Cardinals by various experts, draftniks and mock drafts.

Here's how six offensive tackles who may still be around at No. 20 or later for Arizona fared at the combine:

All six of these tackles showed their athleticism, but how often does a tackle take off to block 40 yards? Speed isn't a major factor, but the three-cone drill times are something to look at because that shows a player's agility.

Based on their numbers, Notre Dame's Zack Martin may have had the best all-around combine out of this group, which the Cardinals will most likely be choosing from -- if, and it needs to be said, Arizona doesn't sign a tackle in free agency. Martin's biggest knock is his size. At 6-foot-4, he's giving up a few inches to Henderson and Kouandjio and with 32 7/8-inch arms, Martin's reach is the shortest of this group. But he's reliable, as he showed at Notre Dame, and clearly athletic, which could make up for his lack of size when it comes to deflecting the new breed of defensive ends from getting to Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Ohio State's Jack Mewhort also had strong numbers, with the second-fastest shuttle drill and the second-longest broad jump, which put his lower-body strength on display. Mewhort may have improved his stock at the combine because at 6-foot-6 and 309 pounds -- which can easily be changed with an NFL weight plan -- his arms are 34 inches long, meaning he has the quickness and length to block.

Henderson impressed with his 40 time but didn't show great agility while Kouandjio has a lot of upside and could be a project for a team. He has a lot of lower-body strength, according to his numbers from the combine, but his quickness doesn't seem to be appealing.
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians addressed the media Friday morning at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, and the assembled reporters didn’t waste any time asking him about his veteran quarterback.

He was asked if Carson Palmer, 34, was a “stop-gap?”

“There’s no doubt he’s got plenty of juice left in the tank,” Arians said. “He’s in great condition and he’s always in great condition. So I would think he can play up to 36, 37 easily."
  • Arians said an 11-5 record might not have helped get Arizona into the playoffs but if they snuck in, the rest of the NFC would’ve had to watch out.“If we were in the playoffs we would’ve did some damage,” Arians said. “We just didn’t win enough games.”
  • Arians felt the Cardinals were “real close” during the final eight games because everything was clicking.“We were running the football much better, and it helped our offensive line so much,” Arians said. “Our receivers and quarterback got on the same page. Third-down efficiency improved, red zone started to improve. So we were playing the way we wanted to play. The second half of the season, I was extremely pleased the way we were playing offensively.”
  • Arians made it clear what kind of tight end he’ll be looking for the free agency or the draft: One who can block first then catch.“I’m old school,” Arians said. “He’s got to block first and catch passes. That’s why I loved Heath Miller. I still think he’s the best tight end in the National Football League. Not because he catches 90 passes, but because he blocks big defensive ends and he catches about 60, 70 passes. The guys that line up as wide receivers might get tagged as wide receivers. But tight ends, for me, block for me first and catch second. That’s what receivers get paid for.”
  • Among Arizona receiver Michael Floyd's biggest strides in his second year, Arians said, was his ability to play through injury.“I think Michael’s starting to reach his potential,” Arians said. “He had what I considered a break-out year, over a 1,000 yards. He still needs to be a little more consistent each week. He played through injuries for the first time, which is a huge step for a young player. A lot of times they’ll just sit themselves down. He wanted to win. He wanted to help us win, and I thought he made great strides. But this year can he do it again? That’ll be the question for him.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts coach and current Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was in his comfort zone while meeting with the media at the scouting combine Friday morning.

Arians, who stepped in for Chuck Pagano while he battled leukemia during the 2012 season, said the Cardinals would have “some damage” if they would have made the playoffs last season. Arizona missed making the playoffs despite finishing with a 10-6 record in the NFC West, the best division in football, last season.

Arians made sure to praise Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who he coached during his rookie season when Indianapolis went 11-5 and reached the playoffs.

Luck led the Colts to another 11-5 season, an AFC South title and a playoff victory despite missing five offensive starters and having an inconsistent defense last season. He improved his completion percentage and cut his interceptions in half.

“I saw great improvement this year,” Arians told reporters. “I thought he carried the football team to the playoffs. His performance in the playoffs I thought was one of the best I've ever seen. He just refuses to lose. It's not about who's calling plays or any of that stuff. Just let him play football and he'll win for you. He is a flat winner, and he was a true joy to coach.

"You've got a chance to win your division every year if he's playing for you."
The NFL combine doesn’t just test a prospect’s agility, explosiveness and football skills – among other physical capabilities. It also challenges the mind. Aside from interviews, the players take the Wonderlic test, a 50-word quiz with a 12-minute time limit.

A score of 20 represents “average” intelligence.

The Wonderlic measures cognitive ability, but it doesn’t quite have a direct correlation to on-field production. Take Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson. He reportedly scored a nine on the test when he took it in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information. All Peterson’s done is make three Pro Bowls in each of his three seasons as a professional and be named All-Pro in two of them.

Since the Wonderlic results aren’t published publicly, all scores that are circulated have been reported by various media outlets.

The score of another Cardinal has also been reported. Quarterback Carson Palmer reportedly scored a 26 on the Wonderlic, the same number reportedly as Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon, Chicago’s Jay Cutler, Dallas’ Kyle Orton and New England’s Ryan Mallett. And all Palmer has done in 10 years is throw for nearly 34,000 yards and 213 touchdowns.

Among other scores that have been reported were those of NFC West quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (37) and Sam Bradford (36).

Cards’ NFL combine primer

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
For the next week, Indianapolis will be the epicenter of the NFL.

More than 300 college prospects will converge on the Circle City with hopes of impressing teams with their physical attributes, football skills and interview tactics. All 32 teams will be on hand, poking, prodding, judging, gauging, measuring, taping, timing and asking every question that comes to mind.

The college kids are put through the wringer, and for those who are left standing, the NFL is only a couple short months away.

But what are the Arizona Cardinals looking for in Indy? It’s no secret they have their needs, especially when it comes to a left tackle, safety, tight ends and speedy receivers. But general manager Steve Keim hasn’t wavered from his philosophy of taking the best player available, regardless of position.

So, with all that being said, here’s the Cardinals’ 2013 NFL combine primer:

Bruce Arians and Steve Keim

Keim is scheduled to address the media at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday, or 9:30 a.m. Phoenix time.

Arians will be at the podium addressing the media at 10:15 ET Friday, or 8:15 a.m. local.

Draft details

The Cardinals will pick 20th in every round and don’t have a seventh-round pick this year.

Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)

Media availability: Thursday

On-field workout: Friday (PK/ST), Saturday (OL, TE)

Left tackle -- Arizona will study the left tackles in this draft relentlessly, with the hopes of finding a cornerstone on the offensive line at 20th. Of course, all the work this week could be for naught if they sign a left tackle in free agency, but the Cardinals may be better off drafting the left tackle of the future instead of signing someone in their late 20s.

Among the group they’ll focus on: Zack Martin, Cyrus Kouandjio, Morgan Moses, Brandon Thomas and Jack Mewhort. According to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock one name that could surprise some people is Nevada’s Joel Bitonio, but Mayock doesn’t expect the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Californian to get drafted until the second or third round.

Tight end -- One of the showcase pieces of Arians’ offense didn’t live up to its billing in 2013, but it’s also not a high priority in the draft. There aren’t any must-have tight ends in this year’s class, which makes the likelihood of the Cards choosing one before the third round very unlikely.

According to ESPN’s rankings, the top four tight ends in the draft are North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas.

A few other names that could be strewn about: Oregon’s Coly Lyerla, USC’s Xavier Grimble and Georgia’s Arthur Lynch.

Because there are so few talented tight ends this year, they could become a hot priority.

Group 4 (QB, WO), Group 5 (QB, WO), Group 6 (RB)

Media availability: Friday

On-field workout: Sunday

Quarterback -- While finding a quarterback is not high on the Cards’ to-do list in Indianapolis, they’ll most definitely be keeping their eyes on a select few slingers. As I’ve written before, Arians has a type: Tall with a big arm, there’s a few of those in this year’s class.

Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Fresno State’s Derek Carr are the three quarterbacks that could really draw Arizona’s interest, but it may not spend a first or second day pick on a quarterback considering Carson Palmer will be back in 2014. But there are a few other quarterbacks who could play their way into the Cards’ psyche and they include Cornell’s Jeff Mathews and Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage.

Wideout -- Some analysts are saying this is the deepest wideout class in a few years, and that could bode well for the Cardinals later in the draft. During the combine, Keim and Arians will be looking for one thing: speed. If they can identify a few receivers who are fast enough to take the top off defenses that they can pick in the fifth or sixth rounds, they will gladly let Andre Roberts go to make room for a cheaper version of him.

Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)

Media availability: Saturday

On-field workout: Monday

Defensive linemen Also not a high priority for the Cardinals, but drafting a defensive lineman could fall under Keim’s “best player available” philosophy. The middle of Arizona’s defensive line is set for the future with Dan Williams and Calais Campbell, but with Darnell Dockett approaching the sunset of his career, Arizona would be wise to start the process of finding his long-term replacement. If the Cardinals find a left tackle or safety in free agency, there’s a distinct possibility they could draft a defensive tackle at 20th, so Arians and Keim will be scouting a gamut of players this week.

The top tackles include Louis Nix, Timmy Jernigan, Aaron Donald and Dominique Easley, but also expect Ego Ferguson, Anthony Johnson, Ra’Shede Hagema and Kelcy Quarles to pop on radars.

Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)

Media availability: Sunday

On-field workout: Tuesday

Safety -- Another position that could be decided in free agency, safety has a deep class in the draft. Arizona needs a tall, fast safety to replace strong safety Yeremiah Bell and younger may be better for the Cardinals in 2014. The top-rated safety by ESPN is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama, but don’t expect him to be there at 20th if the Cards go with a safety in the first round.

Mayock feels like there’s a slew of safeties who could go in the middle rounds such as Deone Bucannon, Terrance Brooks, Ed Reynolds and Jimmy Ward -- all possibilities for the Cards if they wait that long. Arizona may also look at Jason Verrett or Lamarcus Joyner, who has been listed as a safety and cornerback. Mayock compared Joyner to Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season with an ACL and LCL injury.