Character counts for the Arizona Cardinals
By Erich Becker
New this season for the Arizona Cardinals are character grades both on and off the field
The Arizona Cardinals have been making waves for years on the way the franchise has been run for the last decade and moreso in the last few years with Michael Bidwill at the helm and Bruce Arians and Steve Keim on-board as head coach and GM respectively. Now, add some more evolution into the mix, on this year’s draft board, character counts.
The team is adding letter grades to each of the 120 prospects, according to multiple sources stemming from Josh Weinfuss at ESPN, giving each potential draftee a score from A to F based on on and off the field character. So while a player can have great on-the-field talent, the off the field issues may lower their overall score and the team will have to decide to take a risk on a player that may of had trouble in the past, but is an exceptional talent.
To see how well this has worked for the team, look no further than Tyrann Mathieu, returning from his second ACL tear and rehabilitation, he stands as the cornerstone success in professional sports. His story is one that should be told for all draftees, a mentor to most and an example to all on how you can be successful with lots of talent, as long as you don’t waste it.
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Keim also changed how many and how his scouts evaluated players, per Weinfuss:
"Keim sent more assistants to hold private workouts this year than he has before his three previous drafts as general manager. Having a coach dissect a player’s physical tools and mental capabilities gives Keim and his staff different insights than what a scout can determine."
That gives an interesting perspective on just how much the Arizona Cardinals value the whole player and not just the physical talent. Bruce Arians system and scheme is incredibly complex, and anyone who has played for him and anyone who comes to the Cardinals comments on just how long it takes for everyone to come up to speed on it. Many believe that is why the Cardinals “underachieved” in 2013 only winning 10 games, the team just hadn’t really picked up the system until midway through the year when they went on a tear and stayed in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season.
Still, a character evaluation is something that is probably welcomed in many circles, even if it isn’t a determining factor on if a players gets drafted or not by the team. We know this team will take manageable risks with players, will one of those be high on the team’s draft board next week?