Double Dose of Draft Defense

The Arizona Cardinals took time out of their busy schedules to assess whether two of this year's future draft class would be the right fit for their organization.'s Charlie Bernstein confirmed these interactions, and we take a closer look at these two defensive playmakers who could solidify Arizona's defense at two different positions.

With most of their defensive front seven older than 30, the Arizona Cardinals looked to add youth and depth via last year's draft. Arizona brought in Cody Brown and Will Davis. Brown appeared to be a great pick by Arizona but spent his rookie season on injured reserve. Brown has a lot of work to do his sophomore season, as he looks to adjust to the NFL as if he was fresh off the draft board.

Davis, who was developing nicely, ended his season with the injury bug as well. The Cardinals don't have the luxury of being patient with either player. Both Davis and Brown won't be afforded too much of a learning curve.

With that said, the Cardinals will once again look to the draft to supplement the league's 20th ranked defense (for the 2009 regular season). UCF's nose tackle Torrell Troup and Clemson's DE/OLB Ricky Sapp are two players who have caught the Cardinals' attention.

Ricky Sapp

Sapp would appear to have less of a transition period to the Cardinals' defense than Troup would.

Sapp said at the Combine that mostly 3-4 teams were interested in him. Both players played 4-3 in college, but Sapp's already made the change.

"Our defensive coordinator, he brought the 3-4 package to Clemson this year," Sapp said. "I did some standing up. I did some dropping. I think it would be an easy transition."

The Cardinals could have other concerns. Sapp had ACL surgery in late 2008. He said he played the whole year at about 60 percent strength but at the Combine he put any concerns to rest.

"My knee is fine. It's 100 percent," Sapp said. "I did a lot of extra rehab before I came down here. I'm feeling real good."

The dozens of doctors that poked and prodded at Sapp's knee agree.

"My main thing coming to the combine was my knee and how strong it was and would it check out. So far everyone said it looked good so I have a lot of confidence," Sapp said.

Despite his lack of experience, Troup believes he can fit into the 3-4 scheme as well.

"I don't think it's gonna be that hard," Troup said. "I know it's different. I can hold the point of attack, I'm used to being double-teamed, I have good feet, so I can stay with the center. I don't think it's gonna be a problem at all."

The Cardinals have a drastic need at both Sapp and Troup's positions. Sapp would be a versatile defender for Arizona needs more speed and strength at the nose tackle position. Either way, Troup loves being a nose tackle in this era that puts a premium on the position.

Torrell Troup
(UCF Athletics)

"People are realizing that to have a good defense they've gotta start up front," Troup said. "They can't have a good defense without that middle guy."

With many changes on the Cardinals offense, there needs to be an elite defense to step in if the team's chips are down. Troup thinks he has the mentality at nose tackle that any team could use.

"You've got to love contact to play in the middle," Troup said. "You get hit every play. Sometimes the defensive end doesn't even get touched; in the middle you're gonna get touched every play. I love the contact in the middle. Some people want me to play 3 technique, and I actually tell them I love contact, I love the middle, I love the nose.

From the Desk of NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber...

This year's draft is full of rangy defensive ends who can drop back to the second level and line up at linebacker. At 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, Sapp is an intriguing hybrid who has terrific athleticism and natural talent. On Monday at the Combine, Sapp showcased his ability and was the most fluid defender during drills. He ran a 4.70 in the 40 and cemented his place as a sure second round draft pick.

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