Football Outsiders’ post-draft projection has Cardinals going 9-7 in 2017
May 16, 2017, 7:13 AM
(AP Photo/Matt York)
A rookie class may not always immediately impact an NFL team, but drafting well can often plug a few holes.
In the case of the Arizona Cardinals, selecting defensive players with their first two picks will act as a patchwork for a defense that notably lost veterans Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, Marcus Cooper, D.J. Swearinger and Kevin Minter.
While that’s a lot of production for two rookies — linebacker Haason Reddick and safety Budda Baker — to replace, their presence at least quells some concerns about the defense dropping off from 2016.
Where does Arizona stand in terms of its roster makeup heading into 2017?
For ESPN, Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz released his post-draft projection for the upcoming season and predicts the Cardinals will finish 9-7, second in the NFC West and in the playoffs as the top NFC Wild Card squad.
We’ve tempered our offensive projection for Arizona since our April forecast after comparing Carson Palmer’s recent history to other quarterbacks who had one big season in their 30s. Nevertheless, Arizona should have a top defense and the offense should rebound a little bit and be at least average.
Schatz says history shows draft picks on the defensive side of the ball generally make a greater impact than offensive rookies. On that note, the Cardinals’ Reddick and Baker certainly played a positive part in Football Outsiders’ projections if they believe the Arizona defense can remain a team strength despite it losing the most defensive snaps in free agency of any NFL team.
Elsewhere in the Cardinals’ division, the projections have the Seattle Seahawks running away with the NFC West with an 11-5 record and the Los Angeles Rams improving to close the year just behind Arizona at 8-8.
The San Francisco 49ers finish dead last in the NFC with a 5-11 record, the analysis predicts.