Seven players added: A look at the Arizona Cardinals’ 2017 NFL Draft class
May 1, 2017, 6:23 PM | Updated: May 2, 2017, 11:44 am
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
When the dust finally settled on the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals had made three trades and selected seven players.
Whether you think the Cardinals did well for themselves or not, it’s clear they had some goals and priorities when they were on the clock, as they sought out versatile athletes who often times brought outstanding speed to the table.
Most of the experts seem to agree that Arizona did a nice job over the three-day event, in which they appeared to fill some roster holes while also adding players with good potential for the future.
What exactly did the Cardinals do, however, and who did they pick? Here is a synopsis:
LB Haason Reddick
Story: For Cardinals, Temple LB Haason Reddick was ‘a pretty easy pick’
Who: Started 32 of 46 games for Temple… Finished with 150 tackles, 18 sacks, 46 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and four passes defensed… Finished 2016 with 10.5 sacks and FBS-best 22.5 tackles for loss.
Why: Many thought the Cardinals wanted a QB and that may be true, but in Reddick they found a player who should be able to step in and help the defense right away while also being an integral part of the future. Primarily an edge rusher in college, the team sees him as more of an inside linebacker in the NFL — and likely Karlos Dansby successor — who can do a variety of things on the field. As Sports Science showed us, his combination of size, speed and strength is not particularly common.
S Budda Baker
Story: Cardinals move up to grab player they coveted in Budda Baker
Who: Played in 40 games at Washington… Collected 200 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, five interceptions, 24 passes defensed and three forced fumbles… In 2016 notched 70 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two INT while being named a NCAA Consencus All-American.
Why: The Cardinals parted with a considerable haul (picks No. 45, 119 and 197 in 2017 — as well as a fourth-round choice in 2018 — to move up to No. 36 overall and add a seventh-round pick, No. 221 overall, because they see a lot of Tyrann Mathieu in Baker. A dynamic player for the Huskies who plays larger than his size, they believe he is the kind of defender who can make an impact all over the field. He is also a team leader, so they have no concerns over how he will fit into the locker room.
WR Chad Williams
Story: Cardinals grab big, fast WR in Grambling State’s Chad Williams
Who: First Grambling State player drafted since 2006… Caught 210 passes for 3,062 yards and 28 TDs in 43 games… In 2016, tallied 90 receptions for 1,337 yards and 11 TDs… Burned the University of Arizona for 152 yards on 13 receptions in an early-season game.
Why: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians maintained the team would not need to spend an early pick on a receiver, but that didn’t mean he was against adding one. In Williams, they see a small-school steal who has ideal size at 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds along with speed, as he was timed at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. Tough to envision him earning a major role in 2017, but depending on how quickly he adapts to life in the NFL could be an excellent complement to the team’s other wideouts, who after veteran Larry Fitzgerald are generally on the smaller side.
OL Dorian Johnson
Story: Cardinals hope to have found steal in OL Dorian Johnson
Who: Started 42 of 51 games at Pitt, including the last 40 to end his college career… Started 39 games at left guard, two at left tackle and 1 at right guard… In 2016 was the first Pitt offensive lineman in 22 years to be named first-team All-American.
Why: Seen as one of the better interior linemen in the draft, Johnson fell to the fourth round due to concerns about a liver issue. He said he’s had it his entire life, taking medication to alleviate it. He said it’s not a problem, and his durability in college would seem to bare that out. The Cardinals are confident health will not be an issue, and if they are right, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman projects to carve out a role if not in 2017, then not too far down the road.
OL Will Holden
Story: Versatile lineman Holden confident skill translates to NFL
Who: Appeared in 48 games for Vanderbilt, starting his last 37 at tackle… Played guard and both tackle spots in college… A 2016 All-SEC second-team selection and three-time member of the Academic Honor Roll.
Why: Cardinals GM Steve Keim talked about the money spent on the team’s current offensive line, and noted that depth (and potential replacements) are not a bad thing to have on hand. In Holden, they see a big tackle who needs to add strength, but has skills not often found in a player standing in at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds. An intelligent person and player, if nothing else he seems to fit the mold of a swing tackle, offering the kind of versatility the Cardinals seek.
RB T.J. Logan
Story: Cardinals get their speed in North Carolina RB T.J. Logan
Who: Ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash, the fastest of all running backs at the Combine… In four seasons at UNC rushed for 2,165 yards and 19 TDs on 398 carries, amassed 663 yards and four TDs on 76 receptions and tallied 2,098 yards and four TDs on 77 kickoff returns.
Why: As if it’s not obvious, the fact that he is pretty fast does a lot to explain the pick. Also, his ability to return kicks (and possibly punts) could help shore up a weak spot, though Logan said he is more than just a return specialist. Arians also raved about Logan’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and with his kind of speed the RB could very well prove to be a weapon in the role Andre Ellington used to hold. Arizona’s running back room is a bit questionable after David Johnson, so snaps could be there.
DB Rudy Ford
Story: Cardinals find big, fast CB project in Rudy Ford
Who: Started 34 of 52 career games at Auburn… Finished college career with 275 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and five INTs… Led Auburn in tackles in 2014 and 2015… Began college career as a RB before moving to the defensive side of the ball during his freshman season.
Why: The Cardinals see Ford as a cornerback, and with that in mind the pick makes complete sense. Arizona has plenty of uncertainty on the depth chart after Patrick Peterson, and if Ford can make the transition from safety to corner, the 6-foot, 204-pound player with blazing speed (clocked at 4.38 and 4.34 at his pro day, but said he normally runs in the 4.2s) has both the size and wheels to be an effective one. He has spent time working out with Peterson as well as former Cardinal player and coaching intern Rod Hood, and their input helped lead to his being drafted.