The Cardinals' coaching staff has seen its draft picks on tape, in workout settings and on their college fields, but this weekend, it had its first opportunity to work with the rookies while they donned Arizona's red and white practice jerseys.
Arizona hosted its first rookie minicamp of the offseason over the weekend and head coach Bruce Arians was generally pleased with the progress made by the team's draft choices as well as many of the undrafted free agents the Cardinals signed.
"Really good start, you know I was pleased with what we saw out there, some guys struggled with the terminology but that's normal," Arians said. "But the speed and the talent that they showed in the walk-through and in practice, I was very impressed with."
Arians indicated players like first round selection Haason Reddick and third round draft choice Chad Williams were impressive on Friday, but that a few players the Cardinals picked up after the draft also drew his attention.
"I was pleased with all of the draft choices but there were a couple free agent guys and a couple of tryout guys who really caught my eye," Arians said.
Even though Arizona signed veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert last week to shore up its depth at the position, Arians had high praise for the two undrafted signal-callers the Cardinals signed after they made their first impressions during Friday's practice.
Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was one of the 17 undrafted free agents Arizona signed to its 90-man roster a few weeks ago, while Division II Tiffin quarterback Antonio Pipkin was brought in by the organization on a tryout basis. Arians said both players threw the ball well on Friday, and said starter Carson Palmer won't begin going through drills until later on this offseason.
"Carson is not going to throw probably until the last week," Arians said. "He's just doing everything mentally and he tosses some soft ones around in the blitz drills but he doesn't need to be out there right now and so we've got four arms for both fields because we're always going to have our dual practices. I was really impressed with Trevor (Knight) and Antonio (Pipkin) today, they both had good velocity on the ball and accuracy."
Arians said one of the biggest adjustments for players moving from college to the pros is acclimating to the differences between offensive systems. The Cardinals' head coach said some of the rookie offensive linemen had a significant challenge on day one of the spring, as many of the players were not accustomed to working with an audible snap count.
"The walk-through, about six offensive linemen have never heard a snap count," Arians said. "They've been silent count their whole career so they're jumping offside left and right and you can't assume they really know a lot of things when you get them anymore."
With seven draft choices, 17 undrafted free agents and a slew of tryout players in the building this weekend, Arizona can now begin the process of evaluating every player on the franchise's radar and determining how exactly it wants to craft its 53-man roster.
Arians said he wants players to understand that the Cardinals are not the Cardinals until after training camp and the end of the preseason, and it's up to each individual player to earn a spot with their work over the next few months.
"This is one of the most exciting days of the year for me because this is the beginning of the building. We always talk about, we won't be the Cardinals until we get to the 53. Right now, it's 90 guys looking for a job. It's all about me, not we. I told them that when we left the other day. Do everything you can to get a job. We'll become the Cardinals, but we ain't the Cardinals yet."