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Eight games in, a look at the Cardinals’ 2015 draft class

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals’ 2015 draft class is comprised of seven players.

Back in May, shortly after the draft concluded, the pundits and analysts handed out grades for each team’s haul.

For the most part the Cardinals fared pretty well upon review, though everyone knew then just as they do now it would take some time before anyone can truly judge what kind of draft the team had.

Eight games into the season the contributions from each of the seven players has varied, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is pleased with what he’s seen.

“Very solid,” Arians said of how he would assess the group. “I think they’re all going to be major contributors. Some have already gotten a role. Markus (Golden) obviously got a role quicker through injury. I really like where D.J. (Humphries) is at right now. J.J.’s (Nelson) got his role. D.J. (David Johnson) has got his role. Each guy is carving out a nice niche. Shaq (Riddick) is probably the one guy who had the most lost time due to injury, but I like where his progress is.”

Arians did not even mention Rodney Gunter, a fourth-round pick who has appeared in every game, nor Gerald Christian, a seventh-round pick who has missed the entire season due to knee injury suffered in the preseason finale.

But in terms of contributions along with potential, it appears the Cardinals did well for themselves.

The most notable play has come from Johnson, a third-round pick who has run for 109 yards, gained 208 yards as a receiver and scored six total touchdowns.

“It was a good success, a good successful beginning of the season of ups and downs,” Johnson said of his first eight games. “Still have stuff I’ve got to learn on, still have to improve.”

Gunter, who has eight total tackles on the season, feels the same way about himself, noting that he needs to continue to work on his technique so that he can try to “avoid that wall.”

But he feels pretty good about how he’s done so far, especially for a rookie who was asked to start Week 1.

“My first eight games flew by,” he said. “I embraced the moment and just continually got better every week.”

That’s the goal, and no doubt there will be some rough moments along the way. Some have already had them, and some can expect them. That’s life in the NFL, and it’s something every rookie experiences at some point.

“I feel like everyone’s been going through ups and downs, very highs where they’re doing really good and sometimes they’ll get humbled with some of the experiences where it’s low,” Johnson, who gave himself a ‘B’ for the season’s first half, said. “The best thing is you’ve got to bounce back and learn from the mistakes.”

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