The Arizona Cardinals made every choice count in what could go down as one of the most productive drafts in franchise history
Over the past several years, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has made far too many mistakes during the annual NFL Draft. Ownership has shown tremendous patience with a talent-evaluator who has wasted a boatload of the club’s selections. That faith by the Arizona hierarchy may finally be rewarded by some tremendous decisions made by Keim during this year’s three-day event .
The Cards had just six selections to work with in 2020, but Keim appears to have obtained excellent value out of every prospect they acquired. Each college player that joined the organization, according to pre-draft prognostications, should’ve heard their names called sooner. The Cardinals, to their credit, seemed to be zeroing in on talented individuals who were tumbling down other team’s draft boards.
It all started in the opening round with Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Keim looked to be both surprised and thrilled to be able to land the versatile defender with the eighth-overall choice. There was widespread belief that the dynamic Simmons would be gone before the Cards were on the clock.
Arizona’s good luck continued in the third round, when the University of Houston’s Josh Jones fell into their lap. Many experts had the offensive tackle rated as a first or second round talent. Instead, the Cardinals managed to obtain the highly-touted Jones with the 72nd-overall pick.
Keim’s good fortune kept going a round later, when the University of Utah’s Leki Fotu was still available. The mammoth defensive tackle was projected to be selected at least two rounds earlier, but fell to the Cards in the fourth for unknown reasons. Fotu could immediately compete on a defensive line that needs to drastically improve this coming fall.
With the second of their two fourth-round selections, Arizona grabbed another defender who many believed lasted entirely too long. Rashard Lawrence, a defensive tackle out of LSU, was expected to go a round sooner. The 6’2, 308 pounder recorded 120 tackles, nine sacks and seven pass breakups during his four-year career with the Tigers.
Inside linebacker Even Weaver, the first of the Cardinals two sixth-round choices, also took a huge fall during the draft. There were a contingent of people who thought that the 6’2, 240 pounder would be drafted in the second or third round. The fact that Keim was able to acquire Weaver with the 202nd-overall pick may be turn out to be an outright steal for the Cards front office.
The second of Arizona’s two sixth-rounders, running back Eno Benjamin, could provide outstanding value for the squad as well. There were a number of draft followers who predicted that the former Arizona State Sun Devil wouldn’t get past the third round. The acquisition of Benjamin with the 222nd-overall selection put an exclamation point on what could ultimately be remembered as one the most productive drafts in Cardinals history.