There’s a reason why no one would be surprised if the Arizona Cardinals pulled off a trade or two over the course of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Since taking over as GM in 2013, Steve Keim has orchestrated at least one deal in every draft he has led.
Given that none of the players involved in the deals have been in the NFL for very long, it might be unfair to pass final judgment on the moves, but suffice to say it appears Keim and the Cardinals have done pretty well for themselves.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a look at each of Keim’s five draft-day deals.
with San Diego Chargers
Cardinals receive: 2nd-round pick (No. 45 overall), 4th-round pick (No. 110 overall)
The Chargers felt a need to move up in order to select linebacker Manti Te’o, who was at the time seen as one of the draft’s better linebackers. He has had a productive career thus far, and last season notched 83 total tackles along with one interception and half a sack. The Cardinals used the second-round pick they received to take LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, who after struggling to get on the field as a rookie and dealing with injuries the following season, in 2016 established himself as a productive linebacker with 89 total tackles to go along with half a sack, six passes defensed and one forced fumble. As for the fourth-round pick, that was sent elsewhere in Arizona’s second trade of the draft.
with New York Giants
Cardinals receive: 4th-round pick (No. 116 overall), 6th-round pick (No. 187 overall)
The Giants moved up in order to nab Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib, and since then the QB has completed 9-of-10 passes for 128 yards with one touchdown in regular season action. As for the Cardinals, they chose lineman Earl Watford out of James Madison with the fourth-round pick and running back Andre Ellington out of Clemson with the sixth-round choice. Watford has appeared in 18 games with the Cardinals — starting two of them (at right tackle in 2015), while Ellington became a key cog in Arizona’s offense in 2013 (652 rushing yards, 371 receiving yards, four total touchdowns) before being named the starting running back heading into 2014. Injuries have plagued him the last two seasons, however, and though he’s been productive when on the field, the Cardinals have since added other running backs whose roles may have surpassed Ellington’s.
with New Orleans Saints
Cardinals receive: 1st-round pick (No. 27 overall), 3rd-round pick (No. 91 overall)
The Saints moved up in order to land speedy Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, who has caught 137 passes for 1,688 yards and 12 touchdowns in two NFL seasons. With the first-round pick, the Cardinals chose Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, who has played more of a linebacker role in the NFL. He followed up a solid rookie campaign with an even better second year, leading the Cardinals with 127 total tackles to go along with three sacks, one interception and four passes defensed. But of course, Bucannon was not the only player the Cardinals landed via the trade, as they took receiver John Brown out of Pittsburg State with the other pick and he has been, well, excellent. Brown posted his first 1,000-yard season in 2016, and in two years has caught 113 passes for 1,699 yards and 12 touchdowns.
with Baltimore Ravens
Cardinals receive: 2nd-round pick (No. 58 overall), 5th-round pick (No. 158 overall)
The Ravens moved up in order to select Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, who as a rookie caught 32 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown. With the second-round choice, the Cardinals chose Missouri linebacker Markus Golden, who notched four sacks, 16 QB pressures and 14 QB hits as a rookie, and with the fifth-round pick they nabbed West Virginia linebacker Shaquille Riddick, who was injured during training camp and never appeared in a game.
with Cleveland Browns
Cardinals receive: 4th-round pick (No. 116 overall)
For the first time under Keim the Cardinals were the team looking to move up, and they did so in order to snag defensive lineman Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State. The mostly-unknown player impressed during the offseason and then was pressed into a prominent role early with the injury to Corey Peters. He started 11 games for the Cardinals, finishing with 34 total tackles and one sack. Meanwhile, the picks Arizona gave up turned into Washington State receiver Vince Mayle, USC tight end Randall Telfer and Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Of those three, only Telfer is still with the Browns.