These are the Arizona Cardinals draft grades for the 2015 draft. Arizona came away with a good, if not exciting, haul.
I wrote earlier in the week that it was important that the Cards use this draft to fill the remaining cracks in the roster. Three days and seven picks later, this team looks deeper than it did before. That’s not to say every pick was brilliant. On whole though, there’s a lot to like.
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Steve Keim and Co. made a few moves. They traded up and traded down. They snagged some steals and picked some guys higher than expected. It was a typical draft for this new Cardinals age in that sense.
OL D.J. Humphries (No. 24 overall)
Nov 1, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (70) against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This pick was certainly not the most exciting. With pass-rushing and other positions of clear need on the board, the Cardinals decided to go with a position that most people thought was pretty solid. Picking Humphries wasn’t weird. The more peculiar choice was picking a player who plays a position (left tackle) occupied by one of the Cards best players.
Humphries has the physical tools and proven abilities to be an elite NFL player. His size, strength, and mental awareness led some to call him the best tackle in the draft. Picking up a solid player with significant upside is usually not a bad move.
What his role will be in 2015 remains up in the air. He can be an instant starter, but it’s possible that he sits for a while too. This pick could be an impact pick, or a long-term asset play.
Either way, when you do that with a good player, you get a good grade. This is similar to the pick of Deone Bucannon last season. It isn’t exciting and angers some people, but when you add a good football player to your team, you did something right.
DE Markus Golden (No. 58)
Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide punter JK Scott (15) is defended by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) during the third quarter of the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
This is the pick that most people were a bit skeptical of. There are good reasons for that, too. While he did notch an impressive sacks record in college and does provide depth, this isn’t the highlight of the draft.
Golden isn’t the strongest or fastest and doesn’t have the most upside. He succeeds mostly on effort and good body control. If nothing else, he’ll provide needed depth at a position the cardinals are a bit thin on,
Arizona traded down with the Baltimore Ravens to acquire this pick, and certainly didn’t blow it. Golden does fill a positional need, just not as well as maybe some would’ve liked. Whether he can be an impact player for the Cardinals is uncertain, but he’s a second round pick for a reason.
RB David Johnson (No.86)
Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad running back David Johnson of Northern Iowa (7) pulls away from outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin of Louisville (94) after a pass reception during Senior Bowl South squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals dreams of seeing either Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley fall to them were not realized. They needed a running back though, so they settled on this 224 pound semi-receiver.
I’m on board with this pick. Those running backs who can catch passes tend to be of the smaller, quicker variety. Johnson is a tough, physical runner who also has the hands and speed needed to help as a receiver.
Johnson has the skill set needed to play an immediately prominent role, even start. That doesn’t mean the Cardinals should look to move Andre Ellington or do anything else immediately. Johnson still will need time to adjust to the NFL level, but he is a talented player.
This was finally the pick that addressed a position of need with a high-upside player.
DL Rodney Gunter (No. 116)
This player came out of nowhere, so much so that I can’t find a photograph of him. This is what makes it odd that the Cardinals gave up two picks to acquire him, as many outlets had him projected as a seventh rounder at best.
He said “I potentially could be the next J.J. Watt.” While that is a pretty outlandish comparison, it shows some measure of devotion. No matter who you are or where you get drafted, devotion to being the best you can be is a plus.
I really don’t know how to grade this pick. I trust Keim, who obviously saw something in Gunter. It’s a bit awkward, nut I’m not going to pretend like I know enough about Gunter to give a more coherent opinion.