Cards interested viewers Saturday at Combine

Saturday marked the first round of field drills, featuring kickers, offensive lineman and tight ends. The Cardinals front office was taking notes as they'll likely attempt to add depth along the offensive line and could take a chance on a talented tight end. Brad Wilbricht breaks down which players stood out and outlines who might be on Arizona's radar.

The Arizona Cardinals offensive line showed consistent improvement last season but the team is still in search of young talent. With tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown anchoring the perimeter, the Cardinals' initial focus will be adding an interior lineman during this year's draft.

While centers Alex Mack of California and Oregon's Max Unger are the draft's consensus top two centers, Eric Wood of Louisville displayed excellent agility and athleticism. Wood racked up 30 reps in the bench press and finished fourth in the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.51. With Arizona unlikely to invest in a center with a first-day pick, Wood could be targeted in round three or later.

Due to recent developments, there has been no shortage of speculation regarding how far Alabama tackle Andre Smith will drop. Once considered a possible top three selection, Smith's stock is seemingly dropping by the second. If he is unable to put forth a solid effort as his Pro Day, there's an outside chance he could drop late into round one.

Another position of interest for Arizona is tight end. The Cardinals were hoping for either Ben Patrick or Leonard Pope to emerge into a legitimate target during the 2008 season but that didn't happen. GM Rod Graves could be tempted by a superior athlete come April and there were several on display in Indianapolis.

Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma St was considered the top tight end by a large margin entering the Combine but the gap shortened dramatically. Both Jared Cook of South Carolina and Shawn Nelson of Southern Miss thrived during Saturday's drills and have moved into the spotlight.

Jared Cook

Cook was particularly impressive running a 4.50 40-yard dash, the second fastest time ever recorded by a tight end at the Combine. In addition to pushing up 23 reps in the bench press, Cook led tight ends in vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (10'3"). With a performance similar to that of New York Jets TE Dustin Keller a year ago, Cook may have planted himself as a first-day selection. Meanwhile, Nelson ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and finished third best in the 3-cone drill with a time of 6.96.

Pettigrew's ability to stretch the field has come under question and he did little to silence those doubts with his Combine workout. Pettigrew ran a 4.85 40-yard dash but did look extremely fluid during receiving drills.

The Cardinals will be close observers again on Sunday as quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs take center stage.

Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

CardinalsSource Top Stories