Arizona Cardinals: The draft they’d like to have back

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28: (L-R) Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28: (L-R) Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked /

The Arizona Cardinals’ 2016 draft is one that Steve Keim and the front office would almost certainly want to do over again

The Arizona Cardinals wouldn’t want to hear it. Steve Keim would most likely argue with anyone who’d contend that the club’s 2016 draft class was a poor one. The Cards’ general manager would almost certainly say that the group has yet to reach it’s potential.

Early returns on the draft picks from ’16 are not good. Keim and his crew had six selections to play with that April and, up until this point, not one has worked out. That’s inexcusable, considering all the time and money that’s spent on evaluating college prospects.

Robert Nkemdiche, Arizona’s first-round pick, was thought of as a risk with a high ceiling. The 29th-overall selection brought with him some off-field baggage, but obviously the Cardinals were not scared off. It’s the defensive lineman’s lack of production on the field, however, that’s been most disappointing.

Nkemdiche has produced just 12 tackles in his two campaigns in the NFL. Nagging injuries have been a problem, and ex-head coach Bruce Arians claimed that the 6’4″, 296 pounder lacked maturity. This pick has bust written all over it.

The Cards’ second-round pick in ’16 was shipped to the New England Patriots as a part of the Chandler Jones trade. The league’s quarterback sacks leader in 2017 was well worth the compensation. As it turned out, it was the selection that Arizona didn’t use out of that draft that supplied them the most value.

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2016’s third-round pick, Brandon Williams, has contributed very little. The Texas A&M product was unable to be the number-two cornerback that the team so desperately needed in all of ’16 and part of 2017. Williams has chipped in some on special teams, but has been virtually useless as a cover guy.

Keim thought he was getting great value in the fourth round when Missouri’s Evan Boehm was still on the board. The 6’2″, 309 pounder was supposed to wrestle the starting center job from veteran A.Q. Shipley, but ultimately was unable to do so. Boehm did start eight contests at right guard last season, but has not performed as well as the Cardinals had hoped he would.

The Cards had two fifth-round picks in ’16, and neither is still with the organization. Safety Marqui Christian was waived early on in his rookie campaign. Guard Cole Toner made it through his first season with Arizona, but failed to make the final roster last year.

A second cornerback taken during that draft, Harlan Miller, has struggled to stick with the squad. The sixth-rounder was moved to safety, but still hasn’t earned much playing time. Miller has been waived three times during his tenure in the desert.

It’s obvious that the Cardinals didn’t benefit much from those selections. Perhaps the new coaching staff will have better luck with those who remain from that group. If not, the 2016 draft will go down as possibly the worst in Cards’ history.