ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ 2017 rookie class deemed ‘underwhelming’ by one NFL expert

Feb 16, 2018, 1:48 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2018, 8:28 am

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36) tackles Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Deante Burton (87) ...

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36) tackles Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Deante Burton (87) during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The offseason for the Arizona Cardinals has already been eventful with the hiring of a new head coach and the search for a new starting quarterback.

Former Panthers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks was hired to replace now-retired Bruce Arians, leaving the quarterback role as one of the only remaining vacancies ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft.

It’s a peculiar situation for the Cardinals to be in, but could they have prepared for this last season?

“The Cardinals choosing not to take a quarterback in any round of last year’s draft was pure negligence,” NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman wrote Thursday. “In the first round they were one pick away from Deshaun Watson, and three selections back from Patrick Mahomes.”

Bergman compiled a list of each NFL team’s rookie class from 2017, grading them based on performance as well as addressing each team’s needs for the upcoming draft.

Only three teams — the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers — received a grade of ‘A’ or higher, with 11 receiving a grade of ‘C’ or lower, including a ‘C-‘ grade for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals drafted linebacker Haason Reddick last year with the 13th overall pick. The Temple product shined in his first three games at inside linebacker. But after defensive end Markus Golden suffered a torn ACL against the 49ers in October, Reddick took his place.

The position change caused Reddick to struggle, something Bergman said the Cardinals should consider next season.

“Jury’s out on Reddick, who needs more snaps at one position next season,” he said.

Bergman did, however, credit the Cardinals for drafting safety Budda Baker. After safety Tyvon Branch injured his knee against the Seahwaks, Baker took over and started the last seven games for the Cardinals.

Baker recorded 58 solo tackles in 2017, enough to allow the rookie to lead his position in Pro Bowl voting.

As expected, Bergman labeled the quarterback position as the Cardinals’ main focus area for the draft or free agency. Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has been linked to the Cardinals, though he may demand a contract that is out of Arizona’s price range.

However, the Cardinals have numerous options, with other veteran quarterbacks set to become free agents as well as the upcoming NFL Draft that is riddled with quarterback talent.

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