The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The Can't Miss Player the Cards Have to Take

Steve Keim has committed his fair share of NFL Draft Day sins. There’s a chance this year that Keim could either make the ultimate redemption or commit an unforgivable sin that could end his career.

We don’t know who will be on the board when the Cardinals are on the clock next Thursday at number 16, but I do know this: If Devonta Smith is on the board, it's an easy decision. Take him and pop the champagne.

Smith has become a fascinating reflection of the absurdity of the pre-draft process. His production, skill and reliability was just blatantly obvious to anyone who watched Alabama football and we all watched a lot of Alabama football. 

Yet because we have months off between the end of the football season and the actual NFL Draft, we’ve become fixated not on Smith’s numbers on the field but his numbers on a scale.

Smith weighed in at 166 pounds officially in Indianapolis. He’s now being described as “slight”, “skinny”, and “light” instead of “dynamic”, “uncoverable” or “uber-talented”.

All of that should be music to Steve Keim's and the Cardinals ears.

The NFL is not an arm wrestling competition. Devonta Smith is not entering his name into the Greco Roman Wrestling Draft. There are not weight classes. Its football. A slight breeze didn’t blow Smith off his route in Tuscaloosa. He went toe to toe with the best teams, best defenders in the best conference in America and won.

He’s felt physical football. He’s stood his ground with bigger, stronger players. Now, the NFL is going to be even bigger and even stronger but fortunately for Smith, he’ll have access to food and weight lifting equipment.

Every decision the Cardinals make should be predicated on how much better it can make Kyler Murray.

Devonta Smith makes Kyler Murray better. He’s a get-open-at-every-level kind of WR, important for a QB that at times struggles to see the entire field because of his size. He’s a make-every-kind-of-catch WR. He doesn’t need perfect conditions to put his hands on the ball. By one account, he has had 7 drops on over 260 targets in his Alabama career.

He’s mini-Fitz, in all the best ways possible.

Steve Keim has survived failed first round picks. He’s survived failed trade up’s and failed trade downs. Other than getting the #1 overall pick right, Keim has failed to find redemption on draft day.

If he takes Devonta Smith, its the ultimate draft day redemption. If he passes on an available Smith, it will be Keim’s final unforgivable draft day sin.

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