What could be a wild NFL Draft begins with the first round tonight. It seems to be a very unpredictable draft, and the class has faced some criticism for not being all that powerful. First-year Arizona coach Bruce Arians admits it doesn’t have the wow factor when it comes to quarterbacks and running backs, but says there’s wow in the linemen and safeties.
Bruce Arians joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the AM to discuss being a first-year head coach, turning around the Arizona Cardinals, his assessment of this year’s draft, the need for Larry Fitzgerald to rebound, just how good Andrew Luck can be and the Cardinals having the seventh overall pick.
After waiting so long for a head-coaching job, how sweet is it?:
“It’s hard to put in words. I never thought this was going to happen. But the experience of last year led to this. And I’m really excited about it. It’s a dream come true. I’m really excited about our staff and our football team.”
How do you turn a team around?:
“Well, this franchise was just in the Super Bowl four years ago. It’s not that far removed from winning a division. We’ve beaten those two teams — Seattle kind of turned it around. One player turned that thing around in one year. I don’t think it’s as hard as it once was. Looking at what we did in Indianapolis last year, as an organization, 37 new faces and a bunch of young kids and got to the playoffs. All you’ve got to do is get in the playoffs and anything can happen.”
What’s your assessment of this draft overall, big picture?:
“I think it’s extremely solid. I think you’re looking in the fourth, fifth, sixth round and still getting guys that are quality players, potential starters for you, in this draft — especially at corner, safety and both lines of scrimmage. … The quarterbacks aren’t the wow factor in this draft, and maybe the running backs, but, boy, the big guys and the pass-rushers and the safeties, it is a wow draft.”
Sooner or later defenses adjust to new wrinkles like the zone read, do they not?:
“There’s no doubt. Every coordinators out there studying it, inside and out, whether they’re going back to college friends or brought people in to see what you do to stop it. The old saying is, ‘There ain’t no horse that can’t be rode, no rider that can’t be throwed.’ It’s the same with this stuff.”
On Larry Fitzgerald:
“It was a down year, and it’s nice to see him on a mission right now to get back to where he was, and rightfully so. He’s a premier player and we need to have him back up over 100 catches and 10-15 touchdowns.”
How good do you think Andrew Luck can be?:
“I think he can be the best there’s ever been if the team around him can support him. … I’ve had Peyton Manning his rookie year, Ben his rookie year, Tim Couch his third year, and he’s a combination of all those guys. The sky’s the limit for him athletically and mentally. He’s a gifted passer, and it’s just a matter of how many pieces can they keep around him to keep winning?”
Have you heard from teams who want your first-round pick?:
“No one’s called me. … We’re willing to move up, move down or pick in that slot. There’s seven good players there and we know we’re getting one.”