Cardinals Find Value on Day 1 of Draft

The Arizona Cardinals benefited from an almost ideal situation on Saturday when Ohio St RB Chris Wells slid to pick No. 31. Meanwhile in Round 2, the Cardinals found a pass-rushing specialist in Connecticut LB Cody Brown. Arizona managed to address two immediate needs while selecting the best player available and has momentum heading into the second day of the draft.

The Arizona Cardinals two main priorities in the 2009 NFL Draft have already been addressed. Improving an NFL-worst rushing attack and obtaining the services of a young pass rusher were the first items of order on Saturday. As the chips fell, the Cardinals were also able to oblige by the rule of selecting the best player available. All in all, Arizona experienced a very successful first day in New York City.

Following a tremendous Pro Day, Ohio St RB Chris Wells was rumored to be the top running back taken in the draft. However, Wells' loss was Arizona's gain as he fell late into Round 1. Many experts tabbed Connecticut RB Donald Brown as the Cardinals' potential first-round pick but he was already off the board. Brown was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 27th pick and joins Joseph Addai in the Colts' backfield.

Wells (6'1", 235 pounds) is a bruising runner with deceptively fast speed. His patience and ability to set up blockers should bode well with a developing Cardinals' offensive line. Wells will be depended on to run in-between the tackles and should allow RB Tim Hightower to progress into more of an all-around back. Wells' youthfulness and quickness should prove to be an upgrade over the aging Edgerrin James who's unlikely to return to the desert.

During his time with the Buckeyes, Wells was a two-time All-Big 10 selection and was the heart and soul of the Ohio St offense. Despite being hampered by injuries and forgoing his senior season, Wells racked up 3,382 yards while averaging nearly six yards per carry. In addition, he hails from one the top collegiate programs in the nation and should help coach Ken Whisenhunt continue to instill a winning mentality in Arizona.


Cody Brown
(Getty)

As the Cardinals' transition to the 3-4 defense continues, acquiring defenders with the ability to rush the passer is a must. Connecticut LB Cody Brown will be expected to boost Arizona's pass rush as early as next season. Brown will have the luxury of learning behind several capable veterans. However, with the likes of Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry nearing the end of their playing days, fresh blood was a necessity at the position.

Brown (6'2", 244 pounds) features extreme athleticism and should be a terrific weapon off the edge in the Cardinals' aggressive defensive scheme. Brown was used primarily at defensive end in college but will shift to outside linebacker in the professional ranks. While he needs to refine his technique and improve his awareness on the field, Brown has all the tools needed to develop into a consistent pass rusher at the NFL level.

Brown improved each season with the Huskies, totaling 148 tackles and 22 sacks during his four-year college career. Brown was a relative unknown upon his arrival at Connecticut but burst onto the scene as one of the most explosive defenders in the conference. During his final two collegiate seasons, Brown compiled 33 tackles for a loss. Furthermore, he was an All-Big East performer as a senior and a constant fixture of the Huskies' defense.

GM Rod Graves and the Arizona front office get back to work on Sunday with six picks on Day 2 of the draft. Building depth on the roster and continuing to find young talent in the later rounds will be the focal points of the Cardinals' remaining selections.


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