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NFL Combine 2013: Cardinals GM Steve Keim

Cards GM Steve Keim discusses the Read-Option and his Backfield.


Q. And we start off by not hearing the question, something about the roster...

A. "It's obviously going to remain a fluid situation, but I think we have a much better understanding of where we are from a roster standpoint after we had our UFA meetings and actually had a chance to have our coaches evaluate our own players last week. So throughout this whole process, it took a little extra time, obviously, getting a new staff in place, getting Bruce's guys into the building. "There will be a few changes here and there along the way but for the most part, we have a good understanding of where are with the roster situation."

Q. How much different is it being GM than your previous job, where you just evaluated talent?

A. "You have more administrative duties, which is a challenge because it's a learning process. But for the most part, I'm going to continue to do the personnel stuff. That was one of the agreements I had with Michael Bidwill when I accepted the position. I let Michael know, 'I'm a football guy. I need to spend time looking at our players, looking at other players, determining who our left tackle is going to be, not how many rooms we need at training camp.' "My expertise is in the evaluation process and I think that will help our team in the long run, being able to build a stronger roster from top to bottom."

Q. The read-option, is it here to stay? You see a lot of in your division with Wilson, Kaepernick?

A. "For the most part, it comes down to personnel. What type of personnel you have and obviously those guys (Wilson, Kap) with their foot speed, their athleticism, the way they can throw the football, you want to cater to their strengths and put them in a position to succeed. To me, it all goes with what skill set you have. If you have a guy with those types of tools, you put them in a position to succeed."

Q. Hard to hear this question, think it was something about if running ability becomes a bigger factor in evaluating QBs.

A. "I don't think so because at the end of the day you need to be able to spin the football and spin it accurately. I think that one of the concerns that comes with that is durability. Those guys are going to take shots and durability really equals availability. And if a player is not going to be available, that's an obvious concern.'

Q. What will you be looking for when you see Geno Smith and the other quarterbacks throw?

A. "Once the lights come on, being able to throw the football, throw it accurately on the big stage. When you go see these kids practice in their own environment, and see them practice, they have a certain comfort level. Well now you're taking that player out of the comfortable and you're asking them to throw to (unfamiliar) receivers. "And then to have a chance to talk to these guys for the first time, I think that's a big deal. A lot of times when you go on the campuses, you have access to see the film, watch the practices, talk to the staff about these guys, but now you can put a name with a face and you have an opportunity to dig and get to know these players from a personal standpoint."

Q. Can you provide insight on coach Ray Horton leaving?

A. "We had a long process where we opened our search. Ray is one of the guys we talked to for our head coaching position and that was really because Ray has done a phenomenal job. He's a great person, a great coach, and our defensive players really responded to his style. "I think that once we determined Bruce was our guy, you give him the opportunity to build his staff the way he wants to build it. And he made the decision where he wanted to move in another direction and hire Todd Bowles."

Q. What can the Browns expect from Ray, besides some quotes?

A. "They are going to play fast, they are going to be aggressive. He has a great scheme. I think he would be the first to tell you he learned a lot from Dick LeBeau. But Ray's ability to put players in position - I say this often because I think a quality coach caters to a player's strengths, is able to hide some of their limitations, but at the same time be able to get some success out of a guy where maybe some others threw him to the side. Ray was able to do that with several of our players."

Q. You've been with the team awhile. When Bruce and his staff evaluated players, were there any eye-openers or huge discrepancies between what you thought of a player and what they did?

A. "Not really. What probably stood out in my mind was the most was how optimistic they were about our current players. They came in and did a nice job studying our team, looked all the tape, and when we had our initial meeting with them to talk about our players, I was pleasantly surprised with how many of our guys they really liked. "Whether it was the offensive linemen, some of them who were maligned throughout the year, guys like Bobby Massie, Nate Potter, who if you watch them early and watch them late, they improved considerably. But they were very, very excited about where we were from a roster standpoint. "Now, again, I'm not naïve. There are certain areas where we need to vastly improve. But at the same time, those guys had a very, very optimistic outlook on our team."

Q. Did you need a sales job to believe in Todd Bowles?

A. "Not really. I had heard about Todd before. Matter of fact, Ken Whisenhunt interviewed Todd Bowles a few years ago for a position on our staff, and Ken had a lot of great things to say about Todd Bowles. "I think the Philadelphia thing, he was put in a tough situation, taking over a defense midway through the year. He was running a 4-3 defense in Philadelphia where we're going to be more of a 3-4 base."

Q. This isn't supposed to be a great class of QBs. Thoughts?

A. "I think it's solid. I think there are guys in every round that have ability. In years past, we've seen that position can get pushed up from time to time, where a guy is probably a good third round pick, but because of supply and demand and need at that position, guys get pushed into the second and first round. More importantly, I think the player has to fit what you do and what you're asking him to do schematically. If you can get a guy and put him in a position to succeed, I always ask people then how high is too high? "If you're convinced a guy is a good player, take him."

Q. Beanie Wells, what's up with him?

A. "I think Beanie had a tough stretch this year because of the injuries. He showed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness late in the year when he was able to. He's had some injuries so he had a difficult time with his cut ability and his lateral movement but Beanie is still a big horse who can finish runs and create yardage after contract, which is something that excites us."

Q. Ryan Williams?

A. "I saw Ryan in our weight room the other day and he's doing fantastic. He's a guy that, watching film with Bruce, because he got injured early in the season, you fogot the type of run skills Ryan had. We watched him against Philadelphia, we watched him against New England, his later quickness, his later quickness, his natural run skills, his avoidability is something he brings to the table. Plus he's a three down back. We're expecting big things out of Ryan moving forward."