Inside the War Room: Round 6

The round of Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, and Stephen Davis. And... a lot of other guys. There have been quality starters, Pro Bowlers, and Super Bowl Champions chosen here, but for the most part, these prospects are happy to get picked.

Medical histories, malcontents, borderline sociopaths, and guys deemed to short or too skinny to play in the NFL but produced too well in college not to invite to the Combine litter this list.  These are practice squad players, reserves, and special teamers.  Not a lot of pots of gold at the end of their rainbows (not that there's anything wrong with that).

But... Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round...

I'm not saying that I have compiled enough information and watched enough film and talked to enough people to identify the next Brady.  What I believe I have done, however, is identify the next Gerald Hayes.  That sounded a lot more impressive in my head.

University of Pittsburgh (same school as Hayes) prospect H.B. Blades is the son of a former player, was a captain in college, and has a pretty staggering amount of college production for a guy that we're talking about in the sixth round.  Here's the issue: He's short.  Very, very short.  Like, hobbit short.  He's 5'10" and only weighs 237 pounds.  Wait a second, those are pretty much my measurables as well.  And I'm positive that Blades could beat me up.

He's definitely short to be a Cardinals linebacker (the most diminutive 'backer on the roster is 6'1") and he's undersized to patrol the middle in the NFL.  With his frame, he really can't add any weight.

All that aside, he has excellent instincts, always seems to be around the football, and was one of two players on Pitt's defense worth drafting (Darrelle Revis was the other).  Playing behind a very suspect defensive line, he didn't give up.  At the professional level, when it's his job to not give up and to pursue the ball carrier, he will be even more vigilant.

He's no Derrick Brooks, not by a long shot, but he's certainly good enough to take a shot at, use in certain situations (he has good ball skills and could play linebacker in nickel and dime packages), and watch him stand out on special teams.  In a couple of years, who knows?  He could be in the base defense (although definitely not if the Cardinals go to a 3-4 full time).

If Arizona decides not to take a linebacker at this point in the draft (hopefully because they've already taken one - Zak DeOssie or Juwan Simpson, I'm looking at you...), they should target guys that have potential on special teams. 

A few safeties spring to mind that have been specifically cited as well suited to support the kicking game.  Zach Cantanese, the hometown favorite from Arizona State lacks top end speed (4.63 in the 40), but is a very tough, physical player.  Brannon Condren of Troy State is fast (4.49 in the 40), but lacks coverage skills. And Cal's Daymeion Hughes has ball skills, but is not particularly tough or fast (4.73).

Finally, let us not forget that the Cardinals may decide to go for a fullback at this late stage, even though they recently signed Terrelle Smith away from Cleveland.  In that case, they will probably take a long look at the only fullback worth drafting this year: Alabama's Le'Ron McClain.  He's a tough, competitive lead blocker that certainly got his fair share of blocking work in 'Bama's run oriented offense.  He's used to the contact, used to staying away from the limelight, and would probably be thrilled to get drafted by anyone on Sunday, even if it is the Cardinals.

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