Like him or loathe him, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. knows all things NFL Draft.
The 53-year-old Baltimore native has been analyzing the draft for ESPN since 1984. So when all franchises have finished selecting their future prospects at the summer gala, many fans turn to Kiper to see what he thinks about their favorite team’s picks.
And that time is here.
In an Insider piece on ESPN.com, Kiper released his grades Sunday for all 32 NFL teams. And if you’re wondering what his thoughts were on the Arizona Cardinals’ draft class, he gave Steve Keim and Co. above-average, but not stellar, marks.
Kiper said Arizona’s top needs entering the draft were at outside linebacker, safety, wide receiver and quarterback. The Cardinals hit all those positions — safety Deone Bucannon in the first round; wide receivers John Brown and Walt Powell in the third and sixth rounds, respectively; and quarterback Logan Thomas in the fourth — except linebacker.
So when Kiper looks at how the Cardinals met their needs through the draft, he gave them a “B.” As for the overall value of their seven draftees, Kiper gave the team a mark of a “B-.”
Overall, he gave the Cardinals a “B” for their draft.
He explained the grades further:
The Cardinals did pretty well, and hit some needs. If you look across the NFC West, you see safety combinations that balance a big hitter with a guy that can really run, move around, cover the slot and make plays. Last year the Cardinals added Tyrann Mathieu, who was fantastic as a rookie before the ACL injury, and this year they added a hitter in Deone Bucannon. The Cardinals moved down, and that made what you could call a slight reach on Bucannon perfectly reasonable. I list OLB as a need here, but that could also be DE because the Cardinals will mix their base fronts, and an athlete like Kareem Martin is a good fit. He’s a better athlete than he is a performer, but he could be good. Bruce Arians absolutely adored Heath Miller in Pittsburgh, and might see some of what he loved about Miller in Troy Niklas. John Brown was a guy I really liked because of the explosiveness — witness the 4.34 40 time — and he could become a solid third WR and also take return reps, preserving Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.Logan Thomas is a great developmental shot to take. Bruce Arians worked out Thomas in March, and loves the tools Thomas has. Will Thomas improve his accuracy? That’s the question, and it’s not at all easy to say he will, because accuracy and ball placement aren’t things that often improve a great deal. At worst, he’s Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson in practice because he can simulate that kind of athleticism.
As for how Arizona did in the draft compared to its NFC West foes, two clubs got higher marks from Kiper, while one was a couple notches below.
Kiper gave the San Francisco 49ers an “A” for their draft class and the St. Louis Rams an “A-.” The defending champion Seattle Seahawks brought up the rear with a “C+,” according to Kiper’s analysis.