Cardinals Meet Twice With Versatile Defender

With Calvin Pace departing via free agency to the New York Jets, the linebacker position in Arizona is not the strength it once was. Accordingly, Cardinals coaches met multiple times a unique player who could come in and provide the unit with a much needed punch.'s James Jones catches up with this prospect for an exclusive interview.

Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard met with the Cardinals at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. A hybrid defender, he could help the Cardinals at linebacker, safety and on special teams.

Woodyard has made a career out of being an undersized player with lightning quick speed, an attribute highly regarded in the NFL. He ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, a fact that only proves his ability to get after ball-carriers.

In 2007, Woodyard recorded 78 total tackles and eight tackles for a loss. He also notched two sacks for a net loss of 14 yards. He is a player with an innate love for the game and is desperate to succeed on the next level.

Woodyard has terrific range and features great awareness and instincts, something pro scouts rave about. His ability to change direction and hold up in coverage are reasons he is being hyped coming into the draft.

"I spoke with the Cardinals and the conversation went well," he said. "They said that they liked how I fly around the field and how I really seem to enjoy the game."

Woodyard is undersized for a linebacker (6'1", 227 pounds) and needs to put on some more weight, although he did manage to go from 212 to 227 pounds in the two weeks leading up to the Combine. As it is now, several NFL teams have him slated to move to strong safety.

Woodyard's positional ambiguity has not kept teams from being wowed by his performance at the Combine and his Pro Day on March 5.

"My Pro Day went well," he said. "The linebackers coach from the St. Louis Rams (Rick Venturi) came down and worked me out. He said that I did really well in my position drills and liked my change of direction."

After speaking with the office of Todd France, Woodyard's agent, it is apparent there are many teams interested in taking a longer look at the young man.

"Wesley is a unique player on the field and great kid off of it, so as you can imagine there are a lot of teams showing interest in him. They're all intrigued with his speed."

The Cardinals, after talking with Woodyard at the Senior Bowl and Combine, appear to be one of those teams. Whether that interest leads Arizona to spend a draft pick on Woodyard remains to be seen.

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