Former NFL player Adrian Wilson announces that the Arizona Cardinals selects Missouri defensive lineman Markus Golden as the 58th pick in the second round of the 2015 NFL Football Draft, Friday, May 1, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast
May 01, 2015

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals turned to the Midwest in Day 2 of the NFL draft, trading down to select defensive end Markus Golden of Missouri in the second round, then picking Northern Iowa running back David Johnson in the third.

''The one thing that stands out about these two picks,'' Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said, ''is these two guys are really the epitome to me of passion, love for the game, the kind of character that we want in our locker room, both of them team captains, both of them with tremendous intangibles. Both of them compete at the highest level.''

The Arizona Cardinals traded down three spots, then selected Golden, moving from 55th to 58th overall in a trade with Baltimore, acquiring a fifth-round pick from the Ravens (158th overall) in the deal.

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Golden was a second-team all-SEC selection as a senior. A defensive-end in college, he figures to play outside linebacker in the Cardinals' 3-4 scheme. Golden's fellow Missouri defensive end Shane Ray was drafted by Denver in the first round, the 23rd pick overall.

Golden was selected higher than many had projected. Keim and coach Bruce Arians indicated they could care less what others think.

''I just love the way he plays,'' said Arians, the reigning NFL coach of the year. ''Of the guys I've been around, he reminds me of James Harrison, same structure, strength, great leverage and has got speed to power. Again, he's relentless in the way he plays the game.''

Golden's relatively small stature had counted against him in some pre-draft analysis, as did a perceived lack of speed. But he said the Cardinals overlooked all that to see a football player.

''They seen me on film,'' he said. ''They didn't worry about all those measurables and short arms and all that because they know I'm a football player. They know I can get after it. They know I can bring excitement and I'm going to come in and go hard every day, in a game, in practice, everything I do.''

Golden had 78 tackles, 35 solos, and 10 sacks in 13 games for the Tigers last season. He had 20 tackles for loss. The previous year, as backup to Michael Sam, Golden had 55 tackles, 36 solos, and 6 1/2 sacks in 14 games. He played one season at Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College before going to Missouri.

Asked to describe himself as a pass rusher, Golden said, ''I'm just relentless, relentless. Whatever I have to do to get to that quarterback, I'm going to do.''

He said he had played outside linebacker his entire career before going to Missouri.

''So I'm just going back to my natural position,'' Golden said. ''That's what I'm happy about is that I get to go back to linebacker and I don't have to be in a three-point stance. I'm really excited about getting out of the three-point stance.''

The trade gives Arizona consecutive picks in the fifth round. It is the third year in a row that the Cardinals traded down to get an additional selection.

The Cardinals ranked last in the NFL in rushing last season, with Andre Ellington struggling with a foot problem most of the season. The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Johnson, the 86th pick overall, brings some much-needed power.

''I definitely bring that bigger size, and also with my bigger size, something that a lot of teams don't really look into with bigger running backs is my ability to catch out of the backfield,'' Johnson said, ''being utilized not just as a runner but as a pass catcher. Just a bigger running back, really, ready to take the pounding in the NFL and ready to take the load for the Cardinals.''

Keim said the team likes all phases of Johnson's game.

''There aren't many backs that are almost 6-1 that have the combination of explosiveness that he has,'' Keim said. ''He vertical jumps slightly over 41 inches, ran 4.40 (for 40 yards)'' and ran the three-cone drill in a time comparable to good cornerbacks.

Johnson is the first player in Northern Iowa history with three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Arizona had a pretty good run with another Northern Iowa player, a guy named Kurt Warner.

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