Five years have passed since the front office of the Arizona Cardinals conducted one of the worst drafts in franchise history. Steve Keim, who became the club’s general manager three years earlier, was at the controls during 2016’s three-day event. The two-time NFL Executive of the Year made six selections that spring, and not one of the prospects lasted more than three years with the Cardinals.
Arizona’s number-one pick that year was the University of Mississippi’s Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end who was entering the league with red flags. The Georgia native displayed signs of immaturity during his college career, and that behavior never appeared to go away after he turned professional. Nkemdiche tallied just 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 27 total appearances (six starts) for the Cards before his disappointing stay with the organization ended in 2018.
With no second-round choice at his disposal that year, Keim reached badly with Arizona’s third-round selection. Brandon Williams, a former running back at Texas A&M, was brought in to play cornerback for the Cardinals. The project failed miserably, as Williams registered just 38 tackles and five passes defensed during a measly 45-game stint with the club.
During the fourth round of the ’16 draft, Keim selected an offensive lineman out of the University of Missouri. Evan Boehm, a blocker who could play both center and guard, would spend just two campaigns with the Cards. The 6’3, 320 pounder, who has been employed by five different franchises since he left the desert, suited up in just 31 contests (nine starts) for Big Red.
With the first of the squad’s two fifth-round draft choices, Keim decided to go with Midwestern State University’s Marqui Christian. The safety’s entire tenure with the Redbirds would last a mere five months. Christian would end up appearing in 55 games over four campaigns for the Los Angeles Rams following his release from the Cardinals.
Just three slots after Christian came off of the board, Arizona acquired offensive lineman Cole Toner with the second of their fifth-round choices. In September of 2017, the Harvard University product was handed his walking papers by Cards management. Toner, an Indiana native, would dress for just two contests with the team before his departure.
The final terrible decision by Keim during that draft occurred during the sixth round. Harlan Miller, a safety out of Southeastern Louisiana University, would log just seven appearances (two starts) in two seasons for the Cardinals. The 6’0,182 pounder was handed his pink slip in May of 2018, re-signed in August, and then cut again for good that following September.
It’s quite obvious that evaluating college prospects has not been Keim’s strong suit. Arizona will need a much better performance out of their GM next week when the 2021 draft gets underway.