Arizona likely to decide between DL, OT with second pick
Updated: Thursday April 19, 2001 9:24 PM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- With Arizona's obvious need for defensive linemen, conventional wisdom has the Cardinals using the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft to select tackle Gerard Warren of Florida, or maybe end Justin Smith of Missouri.
Yet the Cardinals seem to be thinking "Big" instead. Big is the extremely accurate nickname of 6-foot-6, 365-pound offensive tackle Leonard Davis of Texas.
"I do know this," Arizona head coach Dave McGinnis said, remembering his days as linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears, "I was really a good coach in Chicago for a lot of years standing on the sidelines cheering for Walter Payton to move those chains.
"We've lost some players along the defensive line, but I don't think by taking good football players anywhere that you ever weaken your football team."
Arizona wouldn't mind trading the pick for more selections later on. Throw in the rumblings that San Diego might pass on Michael Vick as the No. 1 pick, and Arizona's draft plans become impossible to predict.
"I don't think anybody knows but them," Warren's agent Joel Segal said.
Segal said he was contacted Thursday by San Diego, further evidence the Chargers either are posturing in their contract talks with Vick's agents or are seriously considering passing on the talented young quarterback.
Warren is considered the best defensive tackle in the draft.
Smith, at 267 pounds, might seem undersized, but the Cardinals say the weight doesn't concern them.
"He weighs more than Jevon Kearse. He weighs more than Bruce Smith," general manager Bob Ferguson said.
Warren and Smith both visited Arizona for workouts, but the notoriously thrifty Cardinals might feel neither is worth the kind of money a No. 2 pick will require.
With the draft deep in defensive linemen, the Cards could decide they can find immediate help in the second round and later.
They have to find defensive linemen somewhere, because defensive end Simeon Rice has signed with Tampa Bay, tackles Tony McCoy and Mark Smith have been told they won't be re-signed, and end Andre Wadsworth's status is uncertain after major knee surgery.
Davis, meanwhile, could be the last piece of an imposing offensive line that finally would give Jake Plummer time to throw and open some holes for Michael Pittman and Thomas Jones.
Davis wowed the Cardinals with his athletic ability and physical condition, especially considering his size. Davis' half-brother Charles played football with McGinnis long ago at TCU.
"He has kept in touch with me a little bit during my career and he's always kept telling me, 'Mac, wait until you see my younger brother,'" McGinnis said. "He's from Wortham, Texas, which is about as big as this room we're sitting in, so he's kind of been one of those country legends down there for a long time.
"He's an impressive person. He'll play in this league, in my humble opinion, for a long, long time, unless he gets hit by a truck, and it's going to have to be a damned big truck."
If the Cardinals choose Davis, he probably would play guard at first and be moved to tackle later. Arizona has two strong young tackles in Anthony Clement and L.J. Shelton. The Cardinals already have signed free agent guard Pete Kendall and are hoping center Mike Gruttaduria can play again after sustaining a severe neck injury last year.
McGinnis and Ferguson have been coy about what would happen if the Chargers don't select Vick.
Asked if the phone would start ringing immediately with potential trades, McGinnis said, "That's a real good question."
The Cardinals have so much invested in and have vehemently stated their support for Plummer, who has thrown 45 interceptions the past two seasons. Would they draft Vick if given the chance?
"That's a real good question, too," McGinnis said.