Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has ranked 19th out of 23 qualifying general managers via Greg Rosenthal’s NFL Draft Power Rankings. And Rosenthal’s rankings isn’t the only source that has panned Keim’s draft record. Lindy’s NFL Draft Magazine gave Keim’s 2016-2020 draft record a D, one of just two to have received such a low grade.
And reflecting on Keim’s draft picks, you can argue that he has missed on far more targets than he has hit. Most notably, Robert Nkemdiche (2016), and Josh Rosen (2018). If it wasn’t for a 12.5-sack season in 2020, you could’ve added Haason Reddick (2017) to the mix as well. However, we’ll give Reddick the benefit of the doubt; the guy spent three seasons struggling at a different position before breaking out in 2020.
Far too often, Keim has called out the wrong names. Take 2019, for example, when he drafted receivers Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson. Isabella has flopped. Butler is long gone from the NFL. And Johnson is inactive nearly as often as he’s active, having played in just 18 career games.
We can go on and on about Keim’s track record, including meek returns for 2020 besides Isaiah Simmons. And it’s one reason he’s been forced to go at it in 2021 with aging free agents. You can count on one hand on how many of Keim’s draft picks have made significant contributions to the Cardinals in the last five seasons, and if he wants to stick around, it must change.
This isn’t an argument to relieve Keim of his duties. In 2019, his first overall pick in Kyler Murray won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. And in 2020 after a slow start, Isaiah Simmons caught on and secured a spot on the PWFA All-Rookie Team. His second-round pick in 2017, Budda Baker, is one of the NFL’s best safeties. And if he stays healthy, you can count Jalen Thompson as a steal.
Perhaps Keim’s ability to draft quality players is turning the corner. However, he enters a pivotal 2021 NFL Draft and season in which both his and head coach Kliff Kingsbury‘s jobs are on the line. Let’s hope Keim pulls it off in 2021.