4-down territory: Takeaways from the Arizona Cardinals’ 2021 NFL Draft
That’s a wrap. The Arizona Cardinals went defense-heavy with their 2021 NFL Draft class and added at least two players who have an opportunity to earn immediate playing time.
What do Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley from Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf think of how general manager Steve Keim executed in taking Tulsa linebacker 16th and Purdue receiver Rondale Moore 49th on the first two days of the draft? What about a Day 3 that involved a trade up for Florida cornerback Marco Wilson?
Here are their four biggest takeaways of Arizona’s entire draft class. It’s four-down territory.
Doug Franz: “The majority of the guys the Arizona Cardinals drafted: high character, care deeply about football, love-the-game type of guys. I’ve never had a beer with any of these kids, so I don’t want to act like I know their inner-most secrets, but when you watch them play football, you can tell football matters to them.”
Ron Wolfley: “The defensive side of the ball is getting an infusion of talent. Five of their seven picks play on the defensive side of the ball. (First-round pick) Zaven Collins of course leads that off, a 6-5, 260-pound MIKE linebacker is a good way to go — provided he can play. That is a big question mark with all these rookies going forward.”
Franz: “Jim Nagy of the Reese’s Senior Bowl sent out a tweet that would have been considered combine numbers as it concerns Rondale Moore. There are a lot of concerns due to injury issues, especially when you look at a guy of that slight of frame. However, I still liked him in college — and then to see the numbers he put up … he’s a Cardinal.”
Wolfley: “The Cardinals got a much-needed infusion of talent in their draft in Zaven Collins, (Purdue receiver) Rondale Moore and (Florida cornerback) Marco Wilson in particular. But ladies and gentlemen, talent doesn’t win games. Good football players win games. Every rookie has got to prove he can play, so let’s temper our enthusiasm until they prove they can do that.”
Franz: “The massive risk and the interesting battle that I’m going to look at for the rest of these two young men’s careers, when it comes to (Ohio State cornerback) Shaun Wade versus Marco Wilson. Shaun Wade, the son of a Navy veteran, lived in Italy and then moved to the states later in life … checks every character box there is and the Ravens drafted him with the Cardinals’ pick as they patiently sat back in the fifth round. The Cardinals said, ‘We want to go up and get ourselves Marco Wilson’ (by trading into the fourth round and receiving Baltimore’s sixth-round pick for Arizona’s fifth-round pick and a fourth-round choice next year).
“The tape says the Cardinals got it 100% right. Not even a shadow of a doubt Marco Wilson is better than Shaun Wade. But Shaun Wade is not the penalty machine that Marco Wilson can fall into the trap of. Who got this pick right, Baltimore or Arizona? I’ll be watching forever.
Wolfley: “Rondale Moore is an x-factor. If you tell me you can line him up and throw the ball down the field to him … if you can do that, if you can get a vertical game and develop a vertical game, his odds of becoming a bonafide weapon increases 10-fold, because we all know right now that Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals will use him horizontally. Can you actually use him vertically?”
Franz: “Everybody either likes to support Steve Keim or rip Steve Keim, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. The one thing Steve Keim is terrible at is late-round draft picks. … He rarely if ever hits on any of them. It’s a bad track record. The reason it’s my fourth down: I think he nailed the James Wiggins pick. I watched a lot of Cincinnati football this year … (safety) James Wiggins is a guy that will be one of the best special teamers, I think he’s going to make the team, and I think you as a fanbase are going to love his effort, his energy and the fact that he’s only about 5-11 and about 210 and brings a wallop when he hits you.”
Wolfley: “Is Zaven Collins Anthony Barr right now? The long-time Minnesota Vikings inside linebacker, Pro Bowler, can they use him the way the Vikings use Anthony Barr? Anthony Barr is a guy who plays off the ball and you can walk him up on the edge and bring him off the edge as well. That compared to other teams in the league right now, is a good trend going forward for the Arizona Cardinals, if in fact you can take Zaven Collins and do both of those things. Move him around. This is something the football universe is embracing.
“If you tell me Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins develop together, I’m telling you right now that is the best trend this team has going forward.”