Very rarely will you hear an NFL general manager admit to a mistake and there is a pretty good reason for the lack of humility. Too many miscues and you’re out on the street in what is, in a lot of ways, the ultimate bottom-line business.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim didn’t lose his mind recently when he admitted shying away from Russell Wilson in the 2012 NFL Draft wasn’t the best way to go about things. But, he was also speaking from a pulpit of strength.
First of all, Keim wasn’t even the GM yet in the desert when Wilson was snared 75th overall by Seattle, he was the Cardinals’ vice president of player personnel and looking up at then-GM Rod Graves.
Meanwhile, since that time Keim has arguably built the deepest roster in all of professional football so he is one of the few talent evaluators who can actually take a sort of awww shucks approach without taking shrapnel to his reputation.
“Look, I’m from North Carolina State (where Wilson finished his college career as a graduate transfer),” Keim recently told the MMQB.com. “I study all the guys out of there hard. But I just didn’t think there was a good (successful) comp for Russell Wilson and I was wrong. When I think back now, it was a [email protected]#$ call by me. I didn’t have the balls to take Russell Wilson.”
Few in the NFL have the testicular fortitude to take a 5-foot-11 signal caller with a priority draft choice and even John Schneider in Seattle will admit he hardly knew what he was getting in the unique Wilson. The original plan in the Pacific Northwest for that season was Matt Flynn to be the guy.
Yes, Matt Flynn.
Furthermore, unless the Cards drafted Wilson in the first round, they never really had a chance to take him again because they traded away their second-round selection and weren’t scheduled to pick again until No. 80, five slots after the Seahawks rolled the dice on Wilson and hit a tape-measure home run.
Keim, though, seems bothered that if Wilson has gotten to 80, Arizona wouldn’t have taken him anyway and perhaps worse from his standpoint, he himself wouldn’t have pounded the desk and taken the case to Graves.
“There’s this thing scouts talk about — comps,'” Keim said. “It’s comparables and for Wilson, who were they? Who at quarterback has had success in the NFL under 6-feet tall? Fran Tarkenton? Maybe Doug Flutie. But like John Schneider said to Pete Carroll before the draft, ‘Aside from his height, what’s wrong with him?’ Nothing.”
Perhaps it’s good to do a little hand-wringing over mistakes, be they actual ones or hypotheticals like this one, especially if it sharpens your reasoning for the next time.
And maybe that’s why Keim has been able to build such a powerhouse in Arizona since getting the big chair in January of 2013.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SBNation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.