Mel Kiper gives Cardinals a C+ in re-grade of 2016 draft

Mar 31, 2017, 6:31 AM | Updated: 9:38 am
Rookies Robert Nkemdiche and Brandon Williams highlight the Arizona Cardinals' list of inactives in...
Rookies Robert Nkemdiche and Brandon Williams highlight the Arizona Cardinals' list of inactives in Week 4.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper re-graded each team for their choices in the 2016 NFL Draft, with the Arizona Cardinals dipping slightly but still getting by with a passing grade.

Kiper compared his post-draft grade (B-) to what he thinks now, almost a year later. All four teams in the NFC West saw their grade drop on second thought. Kiper now gives the Cardinals a C+, which was still the second-best grade in the division.

Based on production this new grade should probably be lower, but there’s still a decent amount of potential here, and you could certainly make a case for several of the picks from a planning perspective. Remember, at the time the Cardinals were a good team trying to add talent at logical places. We just didn’t see the Cardinals falling off so much in 2016, but a lot of that had to do with quarterback play, not these picks. As for the guys they got, there are question marks.

Robert Nkemdiche was a top-10 talent who dropped because of attitude concerns, and those popped up. Head coach Bruce Arians called him out at least once and used the word “maturity” in doing so. From a planning perspective, Nkemdiche made sense and could be a steal, because Calais Campbell was likely on his way out and now is in Jacksonville. Maybe Nkemdiche becomes a great player (he can be), given the starting role Campbell held for years. Brandon Williams was bound to struggle, given that he’d spent time at running back in college. But he has ability and can improve. We’ll see about Evan Boehm, but he could start at right guard in 2017. This feels like an “incomplete” grade right now. Let’s hope Nkemdiche comes hungry next season.

Nkemdiche, who the Cardinals took 29th, recorded one assisted tackle and one pass defensed in five games a rookie. Besides being called out for maturity issues, he missed much of camp and the early season with an ankle injury.

Williams, the 92nd pick, record 26 tackles in 13 games played, but struggled due to lack of experience at corner. Boehm played 16 games but only started once, yet has a chance to see an increased role this season after Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he will start camp as the starting right guard

The other three rookies, fifth-rounders Marqui Christian and Cole Toner, as well as sixth-rounder Harlan Miller, didn’t make a major impact for the Cardinals. Christian was waived by the Cardinals early in the season and was claimed by the Rams. Both Toner and Miller played in only two games. Arians said Miller, who recorded an interception in Week 17, will move to safety for the coming season.

While the Cardinals got very little in terms of immediate production from their draft class, Kiper is among those high enough on the long-term prospects of the group to still give Arizona a solid grade.

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Mel Kiper gives Cardinals a C+ in re-grade of 2016 draft