When it comes to the NFL Draft, your yardage totals and past performances don’t always matter a whole lot.
They didn’t for Ka’Deem Carey, who after an unexpectedly long wait was picked in the fourth round Saturday by the Chicago Bears with the 117th overall pick.
Carey, Arizona’s all-time leading rusher and first two-time consensus All-American on offense, had a wide range of opinions leading up to the draft, with some services ranking him as the best back in the draft and others projecting him as a mid-round pick. In the end, he was the ninth running back to be selected.
Carey’s agent, Kenny Zuckerman, said the second- and third-round projections were overzealous.
According to Carey and Zuckerman, the fourth round was realistically when they expected to get the call.
"He told me that (on Friday), but me knowing my talent I’m looking at the first round," Carey said in a telephone interview. "Every pick was nerve-wracking. But I know my challenge."
Carey said he was "anxious" with "palms being sweaty" as every selection was announced. But he said he likes the fit with Bears in that he’ll come in as a projected backup to Pro Bowler Matt Forte.
"I’m just going to play my role and be a good teammate," said Carey, who rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns the last two seasons at Arizona. "I’m going to go in there and do anything and everything they want me to do."
Shortly after Carey was picked, Stanford coach David Shaw said of the Arizona standout on the NFL Network: "This is a man’s man with the ball in the ball in his hands … when he gets the ball, he doesn’t go down, and he doesn’t get tired."
One of the biggest questions coming into the draft was Carey’s speed after he ran a 4.7 second 40-yard dash. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. said that was the NFL’s red flag, but the NFL Network’s Charles Davis said "for a guy who runs a 4.7, he is surprisingly quick and agile."
Carey brushed the criticism aside.
"I’m just going to use it all for motivation," he said. "Coach (Rich Rodriguez) always said I run hungry. There is a reason why I do that. I have no choice. I have to prove a lot of people wrong."
Zuckerman said that with the Bears, Carey "fell into a perfect situation. I really think that. He’s going to play a lot there. He’s going to a great city and a football tradition. I don’t think it could have worked out better considering the circumstances."
He’ll be with a couple of familiar faces in Chicago, as former Arizona State star Will Sutton was drafted by the Bears in the third round Friday and former Arizona players Ebon Britton and Lance Briggs are longtime members of the team.
According to the Chicago Tribune, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had a third-round grade on Carey and came away impressed from his review. Another analyst said Carey had first-round traits and had some of the best football instincts of all the running backs in the draft.
"I think he’s had excellent production," Mayock said. "He’s a tougher kid than I thought he was. He’s got good feet. He comes downhill. And he’s a guy who can make you miss. So I love the toughness."
Still, Zuckerman, he hadn’t heard of any team expecting Carey to go before the fourth round.
"I don’t think he ever fell," Zuckerman said. "You look at all the mock drafts and no one had him higher than the fourth. In fact, most had him in the fifth and some sixth. …
"We’re very pleased. He went as high as anyone projected him."
The third day proved to be the charm for Arizona, as in addition to Carey, cornerback Shaquille Richardson was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round and outside linebacker Marquis Flowers was taken in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 6-foot, 194-pound Richardson flashed talent in Tucson but also displayed inconsistency. He visited Pittsburgh last week.
"He’s a really a tough competitor," Arizona defensive backs coach Carnell Lake told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He is 6 feet tall, good size, aggressive, bump-and-run coverage, does a good job tackling, a smart young corner who can come in and contribute. It gives us a good size out there, someone who has the ability to put pressure on tall receivers."
Carey said the news of Richardson being taken made him even happier than he already was.
"Words can’t explain how I feel," Carey said. "I know Shaq is pumped right now."
Flowers, a 6-foot-3, 234-pound Phoenix native, went to Cincinnati with the 212th pick overall.