ESPN’s Kiper re-grades the Cardinals’ 2017 draft class

Mar 22, 2018, 2:05 PM | Updated: 2:06 pm
Temple's Haason Reddick, left, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by th...
Temple's Haason Reddick, left, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Questions circulate the Arizona Cardinals as the 2018 NFL Draft nears, but before late April arrives, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. reevaluated last year’s draft.

Initially, Kiper gave Arizona a post draft grade of B but after reevaluating each NFL team, he has since lowered the Cardinals to a C+.

Kiper criticized the team for not trading up.

The Cardinals had the No. 13 pick and some thought they would use it to move up and draft a successor at quarterback to Carson Palmer. Instead, the team took linebacker Haason Reddick after Kansas City and Houston leapfrogged Arizona to select quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Kiper mentioned Watson as a prospective pick but was unsure if he was on Arizona’s board.

Now that Carson Palmer has retired, their succession plan involves … Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon? In hindsight, of course, it’s easy to say the front office should have moved up one pick to take Deshaun Watson, but we don’t know what their draft board looked like. We don’t know if they actually liked any of these quarterbacks.

Reddick was solid as a rookie, recording 32 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. However, he faced a learning curve after an ankle injury to Deone Bucannon forced him to shift between inside and outside positions throughout the year, cutting into his snaps down the stretch.

According to Kiper, Arizona’s best selection was safety Budda Baker. In his first year, Baker was only used on 48 percent of defensive snaps but still was impactful and shined on special teams.

The gem of this class was undoubtedly Budda Baker, who made the Pro Bowl as a special-teams player (16 tackles) and had 58 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles in only 484 defensive snaps. The defensive back I compared to Tyrann Mathieu is a big reason the Honey Badger is no longer in Arizona.

Outside of the first two rounds, Arizona received limited production from its draft picks.

Third-round pick Chad Williams had three catches on the year while fourth-rounder Dorian Johnson was among the offensive lineman who didn’t make the 53-man roster in spite of the team’s struggles at the position.

With the draft approaching and Arizona on the clock at pick No. 15, only time will tell if the front office bounces back from what currently looks like an average draft haul a year ago.

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