Taking a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ 2014 draft class
There is nothing that pops out of the Cardinals’ draft that wows me, and that’s perfectly fine as long as they ended up with quality football players that can help this team take the next step.
Arizona addressed some needs — defensive back, tight end and wide receiver — and they passed on some such as linebacker and offensive line. Time will tell how this draft grades out for Arizona.
The pick of Deone Bucannon in the first round is the most important, and not only because it was in the first round. Arizona needed help in the secondary and the Washington State product, while not considered a great cover safety as he has limitations in movement and cover skills, is a nasty player and big-time hitter.
Getting a tight end was essential because Rob Housler has not developed as the Cardinals’ brass had hoped. Now adding Troy Niklas from Notre Dame in the second round doesn’t necessarily mean that Housler’s days are numbered; it just means that to this point he hasn’t produced and now has real competition for the position. It’s possible that both have a role in Bruce Arians’ offense as Niklas is a big body who can help immediately in pass protection and run blocking.
The Cardinals added two defensive ends in Kareem Martin of North Carolina in the third round and Ed Stinson of Alabama in the fifth. It’s always good to have depth at that position and it’s possible, as GM Steve Keim mentioned, that Martin moves to linebacker. It’s intriguing, but that is an awful big body (272 pounds) to play linebacker and have to run with tight ends. A defensive tackle and possible replacement for Darnell Dockett would have made more sense than the two defensive ends.
John Brown, the wideout out of Pittsburg State, is small at 5-foot-10 but has blazing speed and could be a solid replacement for Andre Roberts. Arizona also added WR Walt Powell from Murray State, who is likely a special teams body.
Getting Logan Thomas, the quarterback from Virgina Tech in the fourth round, was the biggest surprise. Hopefully Arizona knows what they are doing. Cardinals brass said all along it wasn’t worth taking a quarterback in the later rounds because that guy wouldn’t be able to beat out Ryan Lindley. So why did they do it? Was it because Arians played at Virginia Tech like Thomas? Thomas was an inaccurate interception machine in college. The Cardinals passed over some talented SEC quarterbacks like Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron and Zach Mettenberger to draft him. Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was also available when Thomas was picked. If Thomas doesn’t work out at quarterback — and not many believe he will — he does have size and athleticism that could lead him to playing tight end.
Some of the things I thought Arizona should have done:
• Taken ASU linebacker Carl Bradford instead of Thomas in the fourth round. Bradford was a solid player with the Sun Devils and has some real upside. Plus it was a need pick as Arizona could use more depth at linebacker, especially with the departure of Karlos Dansby and the age of Larry Foote and John Abraham.
• In the second round, Missouri’s Kony Ealy was still on the board when they selected Niklas, and a pass rusher available at that spot would have made a lot of sense.
• There were two tight ends that went late in the third round after the two selections by Arizona in that round — Richard Rodgers from Cal and Crockett Gilmore from Colorado State. Had the Cardinals grabbed Ealy in the second they could have picked up their tight end in the third.
It will take a year or two to figure out just how well Arizona did in this draft. They are coming off a 10-win season and with an aging roster and possibly the last year for Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer and Dockett, they are set up to win now.
The question is, did they do enough in the draft to help them this season?