CARDINALS 2018 Draft Review

There may be bigger changes in the desert than many of you expected going into Training Camp. One of the somewhat fatal flaws with Bruce Arians as a Head Coach was his aversion to Rookies and young players because they might make more mistakes than veteran guys. So during his successful run with the Cardinals, the team got “old” and in general more expensive. Now GM Steve Keim is facing the residual affects of that philosophy. This Draft is really important to start building back up a stronger nucleus of a balanced roster. Unfortunately, the team ended up with only 6 Picks this year based primarily on their move in Round 1.

Don’t think for a moment that the retirement of security blanket QB/CARSON PALMER did not play into the exit of ARIANS. And the Cardinals started their Draft with the selection of JOSH ROSEN at Pick 10. ROSEN will learn under the wings of OC MIKE McCOY and QB Coach BYRON LEFTWICH, as well as VFA signee SAM BRADFORD. BRADFORD’s injury history is well documented and assuming history repeats itself, ROSEN will get his chance to start around mid-season. Based on his own background ROSEN has a very high FBI and should be ready to start if/when BRADFORD’s injury track record strikes again. If I am a Cardinals fan I am trying to look past a medical history that hindered ROSEN at UCLA. It cost the team to move up and get ROSEN, but long term it should be worth the price. Most personnel people I know truly felt ROSEN was the most ready to play as a pro of all the top QB prospects this year. We may find out.

In Round 2, at Pick 47 I think the team hit the pick out of the park with CHRISTIAN KIRK/WR/Texas A&M. I had KIRK rated as a first rounder as my 17th best prospect overall. KIRK fits into the new mold of many WR who have the physical build of a RB, but extra speed. KIRK timed at 4.50 in the Combine 40, but his quickness is even better and he doesn’t lose any of that speed in pads. At 5’103/201 he’s smaller than the ideal, but he is fearless as a route runner and an absolute stickler when it comes to diet and nutrition. Go online and check out his healthy, but yucky, smoothies that he concocts and consumes daily. Was an A&M Captain in 2017. He gains a lot of YAC all over the field. His 9 7/8″ hands are dependable and strong. He will win the battle for most contested balls. He should also bring some added value to the table with his return ability. On 10 Punt Returns last season he averaged 19.1 yards, including 1 TD. This guy should catch a lot of balls for a lot of yards.

In Round 3, Pick 97 the team took MASON COLE/OC/Michigan, who I had ranked at that exact spot. COLE has versatility and above average athleticism, which will allow him to backup multiple positions. I believe that eventually he will replace try-hard, over-achiever SHIPLEY at OC. SHIPLEY has beaten out multiple guys brought in to take his job over the years, but COLE may end that string, and soon. He even played LT last season for Michigan because it was a glaring need for his team. Iron Man? So far he has been. He started 51 games for the Wolverines which is the most for an OL in Wolverine history. At 6’4/307 his only major need might be adding more power in his lower body for facing behemoth NFL NT some weeks. Solid, solid Pick.

Round 4, Pick 134 netted a very productive small school RB named CHASE EDMUNDS. I felt cheated at the Shrine venue when EDMUNDS tweaked an ankle mid-week and missed half the practices, as well as the game. I would say somebody in their scouting crew pounded the table for this guy, so early. Runs hard for his size, and at 5’9/205 he’s going to hide behind some of his OL until he’s right on defenders and blows past them. Has some wiggle to his runs in the open field. His 4.55/40-time is pedestrian, but when healthy he gets his yards. His college stats for 2017 are pretty meaningless because he fought with that same high-ankle sprain pretty much all season. I think they could have helped themselves more with this pick.

There were mixed reviews from the scouting community about CHRISTIAN CAMPBELL/CB/Penn Sate who they took with Pick 182. He has nice size (6’1/195) but despite good playing speed his 4.56/40-time is a bit concerning to me. He has some solid cover skills and plays a bit faster than that 40-time would indicate. I felt he was way too grabby watching him in action last fall. Like many college CB he has a tendency to panic and put his hands on receivers who aren’t really open. Can that be coached out of him? If so he’ll make their roster and get playing time. We shall see what Secondary Coach DAVID MERRITT can do with him in Training Camp.

With their final Pick at 254, they got a good athlete who was still improving during the 2017 season at Cincinnati: KOREY CUNNINGHAM/OT. He’s a big guy at 6’6, 318 with better than average athleticism. He moves his feet really well, but can be knocked off balance too easily. He will make a very good coaching project for OL Coach RAY BROWN. I would not be surprised if he gives ANDRE SMITH a run for his money at RT in 2019. Has good value and potential, 2 slots from the end of the Draft.

They need for all of these Picks to win roster spots in 2017. They also signed a nice group of URFA, IMO, and they need to find places for a few of them on the roster to turn the corner on the age issue. ROSEN will be the biggest key, but it will take more than just him to keep this team in the tune-up, not all out rebuild mode for their roster. They have a chance to hold it all together, but a talented youth infusion is an absolute must.

Pigskin