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ESPN’s Kiper gives Cardinals a ‘B-‘ for 2016 draft class

Arizona Cardinals' first-round draft pick Robert Nkemdiche points to head coach Bruce Arians after being introduced to the media, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. Nkemdiche was the Cardinals' first round, 29th overall, pick in the NFL football draft. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The NFL Draft is in the books for another year.

Over a three-day period, 253 players heard their names called by NFL teams.

The Arizona Cardinals selected six players that will ideally help them get over the hump after a tremendous 13-3 season ended in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game.

General manager Steve Keim and his staff took an interesting blend of players. The team’s first three picks — defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (first round, 29th overall), cornerback Brandon Williams (third round, 92nd) and offensive lineman Evan Boehm (fourth, 128th) — all hail from the SEC, the nation’s premier college football conference.

The final three picks — safety Marqui Christian (fifth round, 167th), tackle Cole Toner (fifth round, 170th) and cornerback Harlan Miller (sixth round, 205th) — all come from smaller, non-FBS schools.

The Cardinals got mixed reviews on their 2016 draft class. The pre-eminent authority on the draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, assigned grades to all 32 teams for their respective hauls. He gave the Cardinals a ‘B-‘ mark.

Robert Nkemdiche is a top-10 talent when at his best, which means when he’s playing with 100 percent effort. When you get that, you have that rare penetrating force from the interior of the D-line. Calais Campbell will be 30 before Week 1, so while this isn’t a huge need pick, it’s a great value if Nkemdiche can jump into the rotation. I thought third-rounder Brandon Williams was a reach, but the former running back hits a clear need as a hybrid player in the secondary — he could end up at either safety or corner. Evan Boehm is a solid addition in Round 4 because he can play either center or guard, and both can be considered need areas for the Cardinals. Marqui Christian is another safety addition — a need area — who has a chance to stick.

Arizona did a solid job of addressing needs, while also getting a potential premium player in Nkemdiche. I think they have the culture to make it work with him, and I know they did plenty of homework. Plus, this grade gets a bump because they addressed pass-rusher by trading their second-rounder for Chandler Jones before the draft.

Arizona will get its first look at their six draftees as well as their crop of undrafted free agents at rookie minicamp, which starts Friday, May 6, in Tempe.

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