Arizona Cardinals produce functional draft class

May 13, 2014, 6:36 PM | Updated: 6:37 pm

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Functional. That’s the word I keep coming back to when thinking about the Cardinals’ 2014 draft.

Not splashy. Not overly sexy. Nothing that dazzles.

Just…functional. Practical.

A hard-hitting safety in Deone Bucannon. A blocking tight end in Troy Niklas. A quick wide receiver from a school (Pittsburg St.) with a mascot (the Gorillas) in a state (Kansas) that 95 percent of America probably didn’t realize existed (his name is John Brown and sources tell me he has wings on his ankles).

Last year’s name recognition wattage flashed in the form of Tyrann Mathieu, Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Kevin Minter. There was plenty of sizzle in those names; a quality that seems lacking this year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Most of the things the Cardinals came home from the store with were items they needed and not necessarily things the fans wanted. It takes a strong man to walk past the high-def TVs and bluetooth speakers at Costco and go to the back to get ten pounds of ground beef.

The one splurge selection — Logan Thomas — feels like a long shot; though I suppose they all are at that point. If his accuracy issues were really that easily correctable, something tells me a player with that size, speed and arm strength would have been a chance worth taking much earlier in the draft. I think if anyone can “fix” him it’s Bruce Arians and his crew. Still, an offensive lineman or another guy to provide depth in this physical division might have been the better play there.

Sixth round, 196th overall
Walt Powell, Wide Receiver, Murray State
2013 stats: 66 receptions, 837 yards, 13 touchdowns; 11 kick returns for 346 yards and one touchdown.
"I think they liked my ability to make guys miss," Powell said of why the Cardinals picked him, "and my ability to just catch the ball and get straight upfield and to just be a playmaker." Fifth round, 16th overall
Ed Stinson, Defensive End, Alabama
2013 stats: 42 tackles (18 solo), one fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks
"We had to make sure we played the blocks right, so that's what I did; played the blocks right and then convert afterwards," Stinson said of his role at Alabama. "A lot of teams didn't really get to see my pass rushing ability." Fourth round, 120th overall
Logan Thomas, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
2013 stats: 2,907 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions; 344 yards and four touchdowns via the ground
"It just felt right from the first time meeting coach Arians and Coach Kitchens," Thomas said when asked why he wanted to come to AZ. "It just felt right from the very beginning and I'm very excited about it." Third round, 91st overall
John Brown, Wide Receiver, Pittsburg State
2013 stats: 61 catches, 1,198 yards, 14 touchdowns as WR; averaged 32.42 yards per kick return and 11.48 yards per punt return
"Coming from a small school and then you produce good, but it's just...If people really want you, they'll find you," Brown said when asked if it ever seemed like the NFL was just a dream that would never happen. "I learned that [Friday], just by these guys believing in me and bringing me in." Third round, 84th overall
Kareem Martin, defensive end, North Carolina
2013 stats: 82 tackles (46 solo), 11.5 sacks
"They're a veteran defense," Martin said when asked about joining a team that had success last year. "I'm going to a defensive line with some great names -- guys like Darnell Dockett. I'm just hoping to come in and learn from those guys just how to be a pro." Second round, 52nd overall
Troy Niklas, Tight End, Notre Dame
2013 stats: 32 receptions, 498 yards, five touchdowns
"I think I'm a pretty good pass catcher," Niklas said about being better than people might think. "If you watch any games, I'm pretty good at getting open, I'm pretty good up the seam, one on one with mike linebackers, wheel route, I can run that; very good at running routes off of mike and middle linebackers." First round, 27th overall
Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State
2013 stats: 114 tackles (78 solo), six interceptions, two fumble recoveries
"How I respond to it is everybody has their own opinion," Bucannon said when asked about criticism of his coverage ability. "Everybody thinks they know about different things. I could throw out all my stats right now, but that's not going to help anybody. That's not going to make you guys believe anymore."

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