You don’t have to go that far back to find the Arizona Cardinals’ last steal in the NFL draft.
David Johnson was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft and went on to surpass all expectations.
Johnson’s 1606 all-purpose yards in his rookie campaign makes it sound strange to say there was competition for the spot on ESPN.com’s recent draft steal for Arizona, but there most certainly was.
General manager Steve Keim is known for the terrific value he finds in the draft.
Undoubtedly, S Tyrann Mathieu (2013 third round) would get the nod here, but durability issues, including two major knee surgeries in his first three seasons, are concerning. There are also other arguments, including WR John Brown (2014 third round) and converted linebacker Deone Bucannon (2014 first round), who led the team in tackles last season. We went with Johnson here because he had outstanding production in his rookie season, with 1,606 all-purpose yards and a team-leading 13 total touchdowns. Johnson is quickly developing into one of the NFL’s more versatile running backs.
Those 13 total touchdowns are hard to beat. The rookie out of Northern Iowa made his impact all over the football field despite receiving the bulk of the carries in only three of the Cardinals’ regular season games.
His breakout performance in primetime against the Philadelphia Eagles was his national arrival. The young running back showed his promise with 29 carries for 197 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
As of now, the biggest question for the Cardinals in the 2015 draft is first-round pick D.J. Humphries, who didn’t contribute in his rookie year, but Arizona was able to get serious contributions from other selections in their first NFL season.
Second-round pick Markus Golden provided some much-needed pop to the pass rush by totaling four sacks and two forced fumbles.
Fourth-round pick Rodney Gunter was forced into his playing time after starting nose tackle Corey Peters tore his Achilles, but Gunter still had his moments, amounting to 20 tackles and one sack in his 11 starts.
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