The Arizona Cardinals did the expected with the first pick of the NFL draft Saturday morning, snaring receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the third overall pick and upgraded an offense that has struggled the past few years.
Fitzgerald will now be teamed with Rookie of the Year Anquan Boldin and 2003 first-round pick Bryant Johnson in coach Dennis Green’s three-receiver sets, and will hopefully give untested quarterback Josh McCown a solid surrounding cast. The Cardinals had the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL last season.
“I think everyone will see why we see him as one of the elite players,” vice president of football operations Rod Graves said. “The consensus on our staff was that he was the No. 1 player available.”
Fitzgerald was the Cardinals’ No. 1 player on the Arizona draft board, and when San Diego and Oakland stayed to form by selecting quarterback Eli Manning and tackle Robert Gallery, respectively, Green and Graves had their choice. Green did say there was some worry because the Cardinals believed Jacksonville was working hard to trade up from their No. 9 pick up to Oakland’s pick at No. 2 to get Fitzgerald before Arizona could.
The pick isn’t without some criticism, since some teams had Texas receiver Roy Williams rated higher at the position than Fitzgerald. But Green has known Fitzgerald personally since Fitzgerald was 8 (Green is close with Fitzgerald’s father) and said since early February he felt Fitzgerald was the best player in the draft.
“He has a great passion for the game,” Green said. “He is ideally suited for our offense. We have said all along we were interested in guys who would be handling the ball.
“You’ve got to be able to add playmakers.”
Fitzgerald is also considered an upstanding citizen and will be good in the community, another plus for the franchise.
“I mean just to play for a man of his caliber, it doesn't matter if he's picking in the last pick of the second round (would be good),” Fitzgerald said of playing for Green earlier this offseason. “To be able to play for him and some of the guys on his staff ... The whole organization he's starting to build there and the people that he's bringing in are people I'm familiar with. So it would be great.”