Arizona Cardinals welcome seven new faces to team’s 2015 NFL Draft class: By the Numbers

May 3, 2015, 2:25 AM | Updated: 9:39 pm
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Though the 2015 NFL Draft for the Arizona Cardinals may have lacked the kind of immediate star power that fans and media members typically cling to during and after draft weekend, the Cards did well addressing areas of need heading into next season.

The first new face welcomed by Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, head coach Bruce Arians and the rest of the organization came Friday, as Arizona selected Florida offensive lineman D.J. Humphries with the team’s 24th overall selection.

The Cards then turned their focus to defense, where three of their next four picks came on that side of the ball. Arizona took defensive ends Markus Golden (Missouri) and Shaq Riddick (West Virginia) with their second and fifth round picks, respectively, in addition to Delaware State defensive tackle Rodney Gunter, who was selected in the fourth round.

Following Humphries, running back David Johnson of Northern Iowa marked the second player drafted by the Cardinals on the offensive side of the ball, when he was taken in third round. The Cards closed out the draft by acquiring two more offensive weapons in speedy return specialist J.J. Nelson from UAB, and tight end Gerald Christian from Louisville.

Below we take a look at the Cardinals’ 2015 NFL Draft class, by the numbers.

24

With the 24th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected D.J. Humphries, offensive tackle, Florida. Standing 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds, Humphries is everything you look for physically in an offensive tackle. Lauded for his quick feet, long arms and striking athleticism for an athlete of his size, Humphries is one of those “first off the bus” type of players. However, draft analysts are wary that his unpolished skill set and proneness to injury (missed seven games over his final two years in Gainesville) could make him a bit of a project. With Jared Veldheer entering the 2015 season as the likely starter at left tackle, expect Humphries to find himself in a battle at right tackle with Bobby Massie.

10

The number of sacks registered by Cardinals second round pick Markus Golden at Missouri in 2014. Regarded as a pass rushing specialist, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Golden ranked second among all Missouri defenders in sacks for the Tigers last season (behind first round pick Shane Ray), while tying for fourth overall in the SEC.

15

In his final season at Northern Iowa, running back David Johnson rushed for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to breaking 15 school records in 2014. Tabbed as a potential three-down back for the Cardinals, Johnson could be one of the team’s most impactful rookies heading into next season, as he looks to push returning starter Andre Ellington for snaps out of the backfield.

116

With the 116th overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals selected a little known defensive lineman from Delaware State named Rodney Gunter. Despite being an unheralded prospect who played only one year of high school football before attending college, Gunter is a player who caught the eye of Keim and Arians, who felt compelled to trade up in the fourth round in order to acquire the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder.

30

In his final two seasons of college football, West Virginia defensive end Shaq Riddick tallied 30 tackles for loss while playing in two different divisions. After graduating — and dominating — in three years at Gardner-Webb of the FCS. Allowed to transfer without sitting out a year, Riddick played his final of football in Morgantown, leading the Mountaineers with six sacks in 2014.

38.3

The Cardinals’ 23rd pick in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft is a speedster who led the nation in yards per kick return and kick return touchdowns a year ago. Who is this man? It’s none other than UAB wide receiver J.J. Nelson, who posted an utterly ridiculous average of 38.3 yards per return — to go along with four kick return touchdowns — for the now defunct Blazers football program in 2014. Nelson also posted the fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine this past February, running the dash in a torrid 4.28 seconds.

5

Louisville tight end Gerald Christian wasn’t only the final pick for the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he was also last player selected in the draft’s seventh and final round, earning him the title “Mr. Irrelevant.” Christian, however, was anything but in his final season with the Cardinals of the ACC, as the athletic pass-catching tight end hauled in five touchdowns in 2014, tying for the team lead with teammate DeVante Parker. Parker was selected in the first round by the Miami Dolphins with the 14th overall pick.

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Arizona Cardinals welcome seven new faces to team’s 2015 NFL Draft class: By the Numbers