Travis Long and the NFL: Arizona Cardinals

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Pac-12 linebacker draftee comparisons

Travis Long is not as athletic as many of the other linebackers in the draft, but like all the other greats that were less athletic, he makes up for it with relentless effort and solid technique. His injury has clearly dropped him on the overall board, but he still shows a 3rd/4th round grade on many team boards. If he goes lower than that he’ll be an absolute steal, and honestly he may be an afterthought on the first and second days.

Other players at his position look more athletic on tape and are going to be a more “sexy” pick to a team who didn’t get to evaluate Long in person. He’s a player that really could have used a Combine appearance to secure a spot in the early to mid 3rd round if healthy, but such is life sometimes. Somebody will understand what he brings to the table once NFL camps roll around, at the very least. For now he’ll just be hoping that he doesn’t slip past the 4th.


Sept. 30, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detail view of an Arizona Cardinals helmet sitting on the field against the Miami Dolphins at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Stacked Against the Pick:

The Cards have 3 really young and really good linebackers on the outside in Sam Acho, Quinton Groves and Brian Schoefield, and 3 other rookie (last year) LB’s that are interchangeable. Groves is a free agent but I would really be surprised if he isn’t one of the few priorities to retain this offseason.

It also looks like the Cardinals love big Defensive ends, as all four of their current roster ends sit anywhere from 272-300 lbs. Travis Long is a lean 245-250 lbs, which would suggest he’s not much for fitting into their scheme as a down lineman.

The Perfect Storm:

AZ has an aggressive defensive team and Long’s versatility is another weapon that the Cardinals could use with a mid to late round pick, if he was still to be on the board. He gives them the option of going into a small 4-down look or a big 3-down look with an option to blitz off the edge. I would hate for him to go to Arizona because I despise them, but I love the fit for Long here.

Their 3 “other” LBs are nobody you’ve ever heard of, and really only one DE will be great for a long time, that’s Calais Campbell. Vonnie Holliday is a force as well but after his 15th season what does he have left in the tank? The other factor here is that the Cards are looking OT, QB early on so they won’t be targeting a big defensive playmaker at the DE or LB positions.

With that in mind and the loss of Paris Lenon to free agency (likely), the Cardinals should hope that Long lasts far enough in to take him. He would be a really sweet puzzle piece to their defense.

Likelihood of Getting Drafted by AZ:

B (4th)

B+ (5th and beyond)