Steuber Talks Camp, NFC West Competition

Team expert Amberly Richardson catches up with NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber who helps her switch gears from the draft to the hottest training camp battles. Steuber answers where Calais Campbell best fits, how Early Doucet will contribute, which NFC West rookies are the ones to beat and much more in this exclusive.

Amberly Richardson: In your "Rookie Power Rankings" you ranked Early Doucet as the Cardinals first-year player who can make the biggest impact this season (24th overall). What makes him more qualified for the No. 3 role over Steve Breaston?

Chris Steuber: I think Doucet is the perfect compliment to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and will be a productive slot receiver this season. He's solidly built, runs good routes and has great hands. Breaston is a good receiver, who has the ability to get vertical, but he's more dynamic as a return specialist, and that's where his value comes into play.

I'm not saying Breaston doesn't have a chance to win the No. 3 WR job, but with Fitzgerald and Boldin holding down the X and Z (outside WR) positions, the slot doesn't fit Breaston's skill set. Doucet is a more physical receiver and will remind Cardinals fans of Boldin. He has excellent body control and catches the ball cleanly in traffic, where Breaston - I don't want to say he's soft - is more of a finesse player.

I think Breaston will become the Cardinals fourth receiver and continue his development as one of the most feared return specialists in the league, while Doucet will emerge as one of the most productive offensive rookies.

AR: Doucet was too good of a player for the Cardinals to leave on the board, but why was he still there in the first place?

CS: Doucet injured his hamstring early in the week at the Senior Bowl, didn't participate in the game and wasn't ready to work out at the Combine. However, he did work out at LSU's Pro Day and performed well in drills, but his 4.59 40 scared off teams.

AR: The Tim Hightower pick threw a lot of people off-guard because he wasn't the "home-run" back Ken Whisenhunt kept hinting at. Is he a player the Cardinals could groom for Edgerrin James' eventual replacement? What do you think Arizona sees in him that most do not?


Calais Campbell
Jamie Squire/Getty

CS:Hightower has a lot of promise and does a lot of things well, but his speed is a concern. I don't think Hightower is an every down back in this league; he's more of a compliment to a smaller, speedy runner.

AR: The Cardinals loaded up on a lot of defensive front seven help through free agency, the draft and the undrafted rookie free agent pool, so the Cardinals are going to do a lot of maneuvering to figure out how to line up the newbies. Where is Calais Campbell best suited to play?

CS:Campbell is best suited to play defensive end. He's been a defensive end throughout his career at Miami and has been productive. He was outstanding during his sophomore season, but struggled this past year on a bad Miami team. He didn't impress scouts this off-season at his workouts, but he's a gamer and presents an intimidating demeanor that the opposition will have to respect on the outside.

AR: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie fell into Arizona's lap quite nicely, but they could have gone with a RB Rashard Mendenhall or a different cornerback in Mike Jenkins or Aqib Talib. What made Rodgers-Cromartie the most appealing?

CS:Rodgers-Cromartie had momentum unlike any other prospect in the draft. Before the draft process started this off-season, I had Rodgers-Cromartie as a late second round pick. But after his ascension at the Senior Bowl and his impressive workout at the Scouting Combine – mixed with the physical attributes he possesses – scouts became enamored with Rodgers-Cromartie. I don't think he's the most talented player of all the prospects you mentioned, but he's the guy that helped himself more than any other player.

Personally, I think Mike Jenkins and Aqib Talib are proven commodities, and either one would have been a safe choice. But the intrigue surrounding Rodgers-Cromartie was too much for the Cardinals to pass up.

AR: Out of the NFC West, which team's draft will have the most positive effect this season?

CS:I really like what the Seattle Seahawks did in the draft. A lot of people questioned the selection of Lawrence Jackson in the first round, but Jackson is a highly productive DE with a solid all around game and will see action this season. Second round pick Notre Dame TE John Carlson will also see a lot of action this year, and I think he will start from day one. Red Bryant was a quality pick in the fourth round and adds depth and size on the defensive line. Fifth round pick Owen Schmitt adds toughness on offense and will compete for the starting job. Late round selections RB Justin Forsett and kicker Brandon Coutu were great value and have an opportunity to contribute.

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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