Cards Draft Exclusive: Q&A With Chris Steuber

With the draft just days away, Cardinals expert Amberly Richardson goes one-on-one with draft expert Chris Steuber. Find out which corners the Cardinals can get at a bargain price, where Matt Leinart would stand in this year's draft, why Rod Graves isn't holding his cards close to his chest, and more in this exclusive.

Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals seem to be in a position, for the first time in recent history, to choose the best available player. What group of players do you feel Rod Graves will target?

Chris Steuber: I agree that the Cardinals could draft the best player available, but they have a need at cornerback. There will be some talent available at No. 16 and guys like Mike Jenkins and Aqib Talib will draw interest from Arizona. Another position that will intrigue the Cardinals is running back.

Edgerrin James hasn't been the player the Cardinals envisioned when they signed him as a free agent in 2006 and drafting Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall or Oregon's Jonathan Stewart is a possibility. In the end, I think Mendenhall will be off the board and Stewart, Jenkins and Talib will be available. Of those three prospects, I think Arizona leans toward Stewart.

AR: For the past three drafts, the Cardinals have picked up a couple college teammates. Which teammates in this year's class would fit well in Arizona?

2007: Alan Branch and Steve Breaston out of Michigan
2006: Matt Leinart and Deuce Lutui out of USC
2005: Darryl Blackstock and Elton Brown out of Virginia

CS:Good question… I'll take a crack at this; how about a pair of South Florida players: CB Trae Williams and LB Ben Moffitt. Williams adds depth and physical play in the secondary, while Moffitt, who also adds depth at linebacker, is a steady defender who's highly intelligent and instinctive.

QB Matt Leinart
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty

AR: This time two years ago, the Cardinals picked up Matt Leinart, who Ken Whisenhunt has named his starting quarterback going into next season. Do you think this will be the year Leinart lives up to his potential? Also, knowing what we know today, would you still consider Leinart a top-ten pick?

CS: I think this is a huge year for Matt Leinart. He has to show more maturity and lead his team on and off the field. He was a leader at USC and he has to show those same qualities with the Cardinals. I really liked Leinart when he came out of USC. I knew of his flaws (arm strength, footwork and mobility), but I still believed he could be a top quarterback.

I still think he's going to be a good QB, but I don't think he will be an elite signal caller; at least not in Arizona. If we're judging his performance to date in the NFL, he's not a top-ten pick. But he still has time to redeem himself.

AR: Arizona needs some fresh legs to help Edgerrin James carry the load. Which second- or third-round running back has the home-run ability that Ken Whisenhunt is looking for?

CS: If they don't select Jonathan Stewart in the first round, I could see the Cardinals drafting East Carolina's Chris Johnson in the second round. Johnson is the fastest running back in the draft and not only can he run the ball, but he's one of the better receiving threats out of the backfield in the draft. Johnson also has experience as a return specialist and offers a team great versatility. If they decline on Johnson in the second round, look for UCF's Kevin Smith.

AR: If the Cardinals go with a running back or defensive front-seven player in the first round, which corners have second-day price tags with first-day talent?

CS: This is a good cornerback class and their will be some talented players on day two. Auburn's Patrick Lee, USC's Terrell Thomas, Boise State's Orlando Scandrick, Kent State's Jack Williams and Colorado's Terrence Wheatley are all talented guys who have first-round talent, but may be a little too small or two slow to be first-day picks.

AR: In recent years, the Cardinals have not brought in any draft prospects for private visits. This year, they are hosting a handful. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method?

CS: I think it all depends on the team and how comfortable they're with their research from all-star games, the Scouting Combine and Pro Days. Teams like to host players who they have an interest in and bring them into their facility and see how they react to the environment and their system.

Some teams don't bother to bring in players, because they're confident enough in their scouting and background checks that they conducted. But teams who draft in the top-ten generally have a list of players they'd like to bring in for another look.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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