Interview With Former Pro Scout Tom Marino

The final countdown for the draft is on and who knows better what happens behind closed doors than former pro scout Tom Marino, who has more than 30 years experience in the NFL. Cardinals expert Amberly Richardson catches up with Marino and explores why some Cardinals interests fit more than others.

Amberly Richardson: The Cardinals seem to be vying for a corner in round one. Do you think Aqib Talib is worthy of the 16th overall pick of the draft? Is he the play-maker the Cardinals need, or is he just a kid with a bad rap?

Tom Marino: Nowadays, there is so much money involved that teams won't toss money to a guy with problems, especially if he carries the behaviors with him. With the NFL's four-game suspensions that means a guy is going to miss a fourth of the season. If they can't count on you, they have a real big problem. Teams don't want to have that problem. I think Talib is the fourth best corner. He's a big guy, he's a zone corner with really good ball skills and he isn't a bad kid. He got busted a couple times in college for what a lot of his peers do.

Talib is a smart, distinctive football player and can match up with the big guys, but one of the other three guys might still be there. I've seen them all play and I personally like Mike Jenkins the best, then Leodis McKelvin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and then Talib. Once of the top corners go there will be a rush for all the teams to get their guy.

Teams don't want to be the last one standing without a top corner. A team can't go without a left tackle, quarterback, corner and defensive end; everything else you can live without. You need someone to protect the quarterback, throw, defend and knock down the quarterback.

CB Antoine Cason
Harry How/Getty

AR: As a former scout, how much does a player's locality come into play? For instance, does Antoine Cason have home-field advantage?

TM: Scouts travel everywhere and try to be as objective as possible. Basically, scouts do not want to fall in love, but guys who play hard and well end up being your favorite players and get caught up in those things.

I've talked to a number of scouts about Cason. He was a very good college player. Like Talib, he is over 6 feet, which is a real plus. He also makes big plays, but he does not cover well, the reason being is he doesn't have great foot speed. He has a high center of gravity, but does a good job of taking people off their feet, though. I'm not real big on him and don't think he deserves to go first round.

AR: Adam Caplan confirmed the Cardinals brought in Auburn fullback Carl Stewart for a private visit. What's your take on Stewart? How does he project on the next level and what could he do to extend Edgerrin James' career?

TM: Fullbacks have it tough. You can be one of the best fullbacks around and play only 12 percent of the offensive plays. It's kind of a dying position. The best fullbacks around probably won't be drafted. I watched Stewart and thought he was an average guy, an upright runner and soft.

The Cardinals probably brought him in for a physical.

AR: Is the dying fullback role an attribute to why Lorenzo Neal hasn't been picked up in the open market?

TM: Lorenzo Neal is a great kid, but it comes a certain point where you have to put your toys away. The NFL has never won a workman comp claim, so they aren't really interested in a guy who has played that long. Teams don't want to pay for somebody else's wear and tear. He might be picked up by a team that is a player away from a good season to help out the running back, but for the most part it's probably over for him. Teams want to bring in a healthy young player who maybe isn't as good as Neal, but can give them more time.

Fullbacks are hit on every play. They are somewhat glorified guards.

AR: When the Cardinals or any other team brings a prospect in for a private visit, what goes down? How many of these are smokescreens and how many are legitimate expressions of interest?

TM: Don't put too much stock in player visits; they really mean very little. For the most part, teams don't tend to tip off the competition about what they are planning to do.

Tom Marino has over 35 years of experience as a professional scout, working for the NFL's Bears, Saints, Rams, Giants and Cowboys, along with both the WFL and USFL. As's lead NFL analyst, he has primary responsibility for network reporting, the NFL draft, free agency databases and rankings.

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