The Arizona Cardinals brought 44 members of their staff to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine this week and the one leading the charge is new General Manager, Steve Keim.
Keim has spent the last 14 seasons with the Cardinals organization as a scout and most recently an assistant under former GM Rod Graves. For Keim, after spending most of his time as the new GM to this point learning the new routine, this week at the Combine is his first opportunity to be back in comfort zone.
“It’s great from the stand point that I am back in my element,” Keim told Brad Cesmat on ‘Big Guy on Sports’ Thursday. “This is where I basically cut my teeth evaluating players. That is to me the important part of the job. I mean, there are obviously different things along the way. Administrative duties that I have had to learn and have been a challenge which has been fun for me. But this is where my real passion lies and that’s evaluating football players.”
It is a busy week for every NFL team but for an organization that is coming off of another season absent from the playoffs, many eyes are on the Cardinals approach to the upcoming draft with so many positions to fill and depth to add. They will be interviewing 60 players at night for 15 minutes which Keim called “critical to the evaluation process.”
“It’s our first opportunity to talk to these guys in person,” explained Keim. “So many times on college campuses we have the ability to evaluate the tape, watch practice and talk to the coaches about the young men. But this is the first opportunity we have to get to knows these guys on a personal level.”
In what has become somewhat of a reoccurring theme this time of year, quarterback questions are at the forefront. Decisions on whether or not to part with Kevin Kolb and if a quarterback will be taken seventh overall or at any other spot by the team in the upcoming draft. Keim and his staff have met prior to the combine about that situation and have a plan.
“We have evaluated him (Kolb) and all of the other quarterbacks on this roster,” stated Keim. “As we tie all of this together we still have a few weeks before the new league year to make some tough decisions….We do have a pretty good plan in place i think.”
When asked if he and his staff know what direction they are going to go, Keim said simply, “Yes.”
A lot has been said about Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians’ experience with quarterbacks and what he has done coaching guys like Payton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Keim believes that quarterbacks will be put in good position to succeed under the new scheme.
“The one thing that is impressive about Bruce (Arians) is his ability to simplify things as well as cater to a players’s strengths,” Keim explained. “I think one of the things that make a great football coach, is his ability to hide a players limitations…and putting them in position to succeed. I think that’s what Bruce does.”
Furthermore, all eyes around the country will be on Norte Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who is present at the combine this week. That is an interview that Keim and the Cardinals say they are looking forward too.
“I know there has been a lot in the media. I have not followed it to the extent that some people have,” mentioned Keim. “But Manti is a very good football player. Obviously his career speaks for itself. And I know when I was at Notre Dame this year, the coaching staff there in South Bend holds Manti in a high regard.”
Thursday was the first opportunity for Steve Keim and the Cardinals to meet with the players starting with the kickers, punters and long snappers. The meetings and evaluation will continue through the weekend from Indianapolis.