Arizona Cardinals: Grading Their Draft


May 10, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper (61) fends off Cardinals defensive end Everrette Thompson (72) during rookie minicamp at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

With the seventh pick in the 2013 draft, the Cardinals had a slew of choices to make. The majority of people who follow the Cardinals knew that there was one blatant area the needed to be upgraded, the offensive line. This draft would prove to be a huge one for new GM Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians.

Pick 1 (Round 1 Pick 7) Jonathan Cooper, OG

When the Cardinals went on the clock for the first time in 2013, the best offensive linemen options were Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, and Jonathan Cooper. The Red Sea decided to go with Cooper, which I think is a good pick. Cooper has quick feet and good arm extension, providing ultimate leverage over his opponent. He is a very mobile and athletic guard that can immediately make a difference with the offensive line.

Overall Grade: A

Pick 2 (Round 2 Pick 13) Kevin Minter, ILB

The Arizona Cardinals love those LSU graduates! All joking aside, the Cards needed a dynamic linebacker to complement and now fill in for Daryl Washington. Minter is excellent at wrapping up and finishing a tackle as well as anticipating the play on offense. The Cardinals couldn’t have grabbed a better ILB in this draft.

Overall Grade: A-

Pick 3 (Round 3 Pick 7) Tyrann Mathieu, CB

This is the pick that brought the media buzz over to the Cardinals’ table. Nearly everyone has labeled him as the “risk-reward” player over the draft. Personally I think his reward is way higher than his potential risk. Keim thought this through by pairing the player formerly known as the “Honey Badger” with his mentor (Patrick Peterson) and fellow LSU teammates. Mathieu is a dynamic playmaker with a big chip on his shoulder, looking to take the Cardinals to the next level.

Overall Grade: A-

Pick 4 (Round 4 Pick 6) Alex Okafor, DE

This is a great pick by the Cardinals. Okafor was projected to be a late first-round pick and ended up falling into the Cardinals hands. He is a very quick and versatile player, moving from DE in college to OLB for the Cards currently. This is a high-value pick that can pay dividends for the Red Sea.

Overall Grade: A

Pick 5 (Round 4 Pick 19) Earl Watford, OG

This pick may have had a few fans scratching their heads. My thought was that the Cards were going to go after on OT at some point in the draft. Watford is still a solid lineman with great speed, but my only concern is how he will match up with quicker defenders in the NFL.

Overall Grade: B

Pick 6 (Round 5 Pick 7) Stepfan Taylor, RB

Considered a top-five RB in the draft, this is a good pick for the Cardinals. He is a smart runner with the ability to wear down the defense. This will help continue drives for Palmer and set up play action plays that the Cardinals haven’t been able to execute for a long time. Additionally, with the two main RB’s having concerns staying healthy (Mendenhall & Williams), Taylor will only give the Cardinals more quality depth.

Overall Grade: A-

Pick 7 (Round 6 Pick 6) Ryan Swope, WR

This is a good pick by the Cardinals. Swope is a tough player and a great route-runner. The Texas A&M receiver was projected to go in the third round, but teams then learned of Swope’s health since receiving multiple concussions in college. If Swope can stayhealthy, he will only add to a solid WR core of Fitzgerald, Roberts, and Floyd.

Overall Grade: B+

Pick 8 (Round 6 Pick 19) Andre Ellington, RB

An explosive and dynamic running back, Ellington comes in as a potential steal for the Cardinals. He won’t have the juice to be an every down back, but he will certainly pack a big punch for the Cards running core.

Overall Grade: B

Pick 9 (Round 7 Pick 13) D.C. Jefferson, TE

This is a decent pick by the Cardinals. Jefferson is still new to the tight end position and has a lot to work on. His biggest upside is his size, willingness to block, and long strides. If Jefferson is able to improve his hands and route running, you can expect to see him more often in Arians’ two tight end set.

Overall Grade: B-

In Summary

The Cardinals almost nailed the draft entirely. There is no doubt that the Cardinals got better with the majority of their picks, and more importantly, they grabbed players who will fit the new scheme under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles. Only time will tell to see how these picks turn out, but I feel confident about these picks.

Overall Grade: A