Steve Keim and the Arizona Cardinals front office have compiled a terrible track record with their first-round draft picks
Since becoming the Arizona Cardinals’ general manager in 2013, Steve Keim has presided over seven of the club’s draft classes. The organization, like most of the NFL, has had both hits and misses with their picks. But while many franchises are able to get production out of their first-round choices, it’s been quite the opposite for the Cardinals.
The lack of success with the top selections, with Keim as the head talent evaluator, started right away . The team, sitting in a very enviable position (seventh-overall) in ’13, drafted a guard out of the University of North Carolina. The results were not good.
Jonathan Cooper was expected to help shore up an offensive line that had been underperforming for quite some time. The former Tar Heel would spend two disappointing campaigns in the desert, starting just 11 times in 24 appearances. Cooper was jettisoned in 2016, part of the trade with the New England Patriots that brought Chandler Jones to Arizona.
Deone Bucannon, the Cardinals’ first-rounder in 2014, was a productive performer during his first four seasons with the squad. Unfortunately, the former 27th-overall choice was misused by former head coach Steve Wilks in 2018, and his statistics suffered because of it. The linebacker was permitted to leave back in March, when he signed a free agent contract with Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Cards are still waiting for D.J. Humphries, their top pick in 2015, to live up to his first-round status. The starting left tackle failed to dress for his entire rookie campaign, and has started just 27 contests since. Humphries has played well in spurts, but does not appear to be worth the time and money that management continues to invest in him.
Robert Nkemdiche, the 29th-overall selection of the 2016 draft, could be fairly characterized as a bust. The defensive lineman has just six professional starts on his resume, and has missed 21 games in his three years with Arizona. Nkemdiche has totalled a mere 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 27 career appearances.
The Cardinals’ top choice in 2017, Haason Reddick, was not overly-productive during his first season in the league. The former Temple University star showed promise as an NFL sophomore, however. Reddick tallied 80 tackles and four sacks in ’18, giving Keim and his cohorts some payback on their investment.
The grade on the Cards’ 2018 first-rounder, Josh Rosen, could be considered incomplete. The quarterback was dealt to the Miami Dolphins this past April after just 12 months with the Redbirds. Keim traded Rosen to make room for newcomer Kyler Murray, a signal-caller who first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury had coveted for quite some time.
Keim may have placed his career in the hands of Murray, the top selection of the 2019 draft. The two-time “Executive of the Year” better hope that he got his latest first-round pick right. If the undersized Murray doesn’t pan out, Keim may not be around to engineer Arizona’s 2020 draft.