The Arizona Cardinals’ hiring of a defensive-oriented head coach had very little influence on their 2018 draft selections
Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks must have felt helpless. The former defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panther’s proclivity for defenders was virtually being ignored. Cards’ general manager Steve Keim’s insistence that the club would stick to their “board” apparently wasn’t just talk.
By the end of the 2018 NFL Draft, it was offensive selections five, defensive selections one. It appeared that “need” positions were not management’s number-one concern. Rather, it seemed, that Keim went with the “best player available” strategy instead.
However, Arizona’s first-round pick addressed a position that fans and the media certainly felt was a priority. Keim jumped up five spots in a trade with the Oakland Raiders, a move that insured that the organization would land quarterback Josh Rosen. A brilliant maneuver that even the defensive-minded Wilks could not justify arguing against.
The Cardinals stayed on the offensive side of the ball in the second round, as well. Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk was taken to help beef up the wide receivers’ room. The Arizona native has a shot at making an immediate impact thanks to the free agent departures of both John and Jaron Brown.
After addressing the offense in the first two rounds, it stood to reason that Keim would finally go with some defense in the third. It didn’t happen. Michigan offensive lineman Mason Cole was the choice, giving the Cards an eventual replacement for center A.Q. Shipley.
Ok, with the three offensive pieces now added, surely the fourth round pick would be a defensive toy for Wilks. Keep wishing. Fordham running back Chase Edmonds made it four for four on offense, supplying the Cardinals with a potential backup for starter David Johnson.
With no fifth-rounder (shipped to Oakland in the trade that netted Rosen), Wilks finally got a present in the sixth. Penn State cornerback Campbell was the guy, giving Arizona another candidate for the starting job opposite Patrick Peterson.
The final round arrived, and Keim veered right back to the offense. University of Cincinnati offensive tackle Korey Cunningham was drafted to provide depth for starters D.J. Humphries and Andre Smith.
Those looking for a balanced draft for the Cards didn’t get it. The War Room’s “board” dictated offense, and that’s what we got. Only time will tell if that strategy was the correct path to follow.