The Cardinals went into day 2 of the 2013 NFL draft with the 6th pick of the 2nd round, the 38th pick overall. Steve Keim and company elected to trade down seven spots with the San Diego Chargers and take Kevin Minter, a middle linebacker from LSU, with the 45th pick.
Minter, standing at 6’0″ and weighing 246 pounds, enrolled at LSU in 2009. After redshirting the 2009 season, Minter was stuck behind Kelvin Sheppard at middle linebacker for LSU until Sheppard was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. Minter was named a starter in his sophomore year, but was often overshadowed by the Tigers’ star-studded defense, one that included the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne, Sam Montgomery, Eric Reid, and Barkevious Mingo.
Minter then had a breakout junior season for the Tigers, leading the team with 130 solo tackles, which ranked 3rd-highest in the SEC, including 15 for loss and 4 sacks. Minter was thought of as LSU’s most consistent defensive player in 2012 and was named an All-American and a Butkus award finalist as the nation’s top linebacker. Minter then decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NFL draft.
He had a strong showing at the NFL Combine, as he ran a 4.81 40 yard dash and benched 225 pounds 25 times, which ranked 6th among all linebackers. Minter is known to be a tackling machine, with great instincts that help make up for his lack of elite size for the linebacker position. Minter was listed by most draft experts to be among the top 3 middle linebackers in the 2013 draft class.
Minter certainly fills a need for the Cardinals with Paris Lenon’s departure via free agency and the lack of depth already at that position. He is a guy who can be plugged in next to Daryl Washington in the 3-4 to solidify the middle linebacker position for the Cardinals for years to come.
However, with Washington already facing a four-game suspension (which could be made longer depending on Washington’s legal status) and his future with the team in general up in the air, Minter is suddenly going to be relied upon to step up and help fill some of that missing production. Look for him to be an immediate starter in Todd Bowles 3-4 scheme.
Because Steve Keim was able to move down, pick up an extra fourth-round pick and still get the guy he targeted (by getting great value as well as filling a need), I give the Cards an A- for this pick.
Stay tuned for more player profiles on Raising Zona. Tyrann Mathieu will be analyzed tomorrow.