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Cardinals not shy about their draft interest in wide receivers

TEMPE, Ariz. — Two of the most important people in the Arizona Cardinals‘ brain trust weren’t shy last week about where they’re leaning with the No. 8 pick in April’s NFL draft.

Both head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim shared their desire at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis to add a speedy, outside pass-catcher.

“I’m an offensive coach who was a quarterback, I’m always looking for a fast, outside guy,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to do what’s best for our organization, but those three guys are definitely in play.”

“Those three guys” are Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.

The Cardinals met with all three early in the week at the combine. It’s possible that Jeudy and Lamb will go in the top 10 — they are ranked No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, on ESPN Insider Mel Kiper’s Big Board. Kiper has Ruggs at No. 20.

“Love all three of those guys,” Kingsbury said.

For as much praise as Kingsbury and Keim heaped on the trio, the receivers themselves were equally as impressed with the Cardinals.

“I like the coaching staff,” Lamb said. “I met with the GM. All great energy.”

The Cardinals had two receivers account for 39.8% of their 3,797 receiving yards and 14 players account for the rest. Larry Fitzgerald led Arizona with 804 yards on 75 catches and Christian Kirk was second on the team with 709 yards on 68 catches. Ten players had between 102 and 370 yards.

And now Keim is looking for a receiver with a specific skill set to add to the mix.

“We can certainly use an outside receiver, especially one that can take the top off or could be physical in coverage and go get the ball in the air,” Keim said.

Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs each bring a different set of skills to the field, the GM added.

Keim quickly scouted all three players:

  • Ruggs is a “straight-line, vertical guy.”

  • Jeudy is “bendy and athletic who can run multiple cut routes, and is extremely sudden in and out of the breaks.”

  • Lamb is a “guy that’s extremely physical, attacks the ball and is just a good football player.”

If Arizona goes with a different position in the first round, Kingsbury said the wide receiver class this year was deep enough to produce a “top” receiver through the fourth round.

But if it’s up to quarterback Kyler Murray the Cardinals won’t wait that long.

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Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb can play both slot and outside and is considered one of the most evasive offensive players in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick played one season with Lamb at Oklahoma. And, Kingsbury said, if Murray had his way, his relationship with Lamb would affect Arizona’s decision.

“He’s his biggest proponent, that’s for sure,” Kingsbury said. “He would take him No. 1, hands down, but we like that. We like that Kyler’s invested. He thinks very highly of Cee Dee and we do, too. He’s a great player and we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Lamb, who called Murray “my guy” and “my brother” at the combine, said he has built a “great relationship” with Murray, one that started before he even got to Oklahoma.

“That’d be a huge honor on my end,” Lamb said of playing with Murray.

Murray gave Lamb some advice on handling the pre-draft process: “He just told me to be myself. Don’t really be anybody I’m not and just kind of enjoy it. Take it all in. You only get one time at the combine.”

Hearing about Murray petitioning Kingsbury on his behalf, Lamb said it made him smile.

“If they need me, they’ll come get me,” he said. “If not, it’s OK.”

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