May 11, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: Arizona Cardinals

#20 Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

Arizona Cardinals
Division: NFC West | Last Season Record: 10-6

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: The most important thing the Cardinals needed to do was address the offensive line. They signed one of the top free agent left tackles on the market in Jared Veldheer this offseason, and right tackle Bobby Massie played well down the stretch. But, he may not be the long term answer, and they at least need a new staring right guard.

As for the defensive side of the ball, coming away with a pass rushing linebacker and starting safety in the early rounds should have also been a high priority. Also, it would have made sense to potentially find Carson Palmer's heir-apparent.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

27. (27) Deone Bucannon, SS
Experience: Senior | School: Washington State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 211 lbs.

Round 2

20. (52) Troy Niklas*, TE
Experience: Junior | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 268 lbs.

Round 3

20. (84) Kareem Martin, DE
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 270 lbs.

27. (91) John Brown, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Pittsburg State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 179 lbs.

Round 4

20. (120) Logan Thomas, QB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Virginia Tech
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 253 lbs.

Round 5

20. (160) Ed Stinson, DT
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Alabama
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 288 lbs.

Round 6

20. (196) Walt Powell, WR
Experience: Senior | School: Murray State
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 189 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Kareem Martin, DE (Round 3, Pick 20)
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 270 lbs.

Analysis: Kareem Martin was a very good pick late in round 3. That's around where I had him, but felt that he could go a little earlier. I don't see him standing up in Arizona's 3-4 defense, but he could be a very good 5-technique defensive end, eventually replacing Darnell Dockett.

Most Questionable Pick:

John Brown, WR (Round 3, Pick 91)
Experience: Senior | School: Pittsburg State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 179 lbs.

Analysis: John Brown helped himself at the combine, but was still viewed as a 6th-7th round prospect at best. Though he could develop into a decent slot receiver, I only see him making an impact on special teams for the most part. The Cardinals passed on plenty of receivers who graded out higher.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Craig Loston, SS
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Louisiana State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 213 lbs.

Analysis: Surprising that Loston went undrafted. He was my 148th overall prospect, and 6th best strong safety. They drafted their starting strong safety in the first round, but Loston could develop into a rotational #3 safety.

Other Free Agent Signings

Kevin Smith, WR, Washington
Justin Renfrow, OT, Miami
Kadeem Williams, OT, Albany
Brandon Sermons, CB, UCLA
Glenn Carson, ILB, Penn State
Todd Washington, CB, Southeastern Louisiana
Lee Pegues, DT, East Carolina
Jonathan Brown, ILB, Illinois

Draft Review:

Analysis: Arizona began the draft by trading down to select Deone Bucannon. While I like Bucannon as a starting strong safety in the NFL, this was a reach, but at least that got a really good football player and an extra second round pick.

They got good value with Troy Niklas and Kareem Martin in the second and third rounds respectively, and both should develop into long term starters at their respective positions. Unfortunately, the Cardinals did not address arguably their two biggest needs.

For a team who had arguably the worst offensive line in football, it wasn't wise to completely ignore their underwhelming unit. Bobby Massie did play well down the stretch, and it's understandable that they want him to remain a starter, but what about the interior of the offensive line?

Last year's first round pick Jonathan Cooper will start at left guard after suffering a season ending injury before he could play a regular season game, but starting center Lyle Sendlein isn't anything to right home about, and Paul Fanaika graded out as one of the worst guards in the league. Maybe they're hoping Earl Watford develops?

The other thing they HAD to do was add another pass rushing linebacker in the early rounds. Not saying third round pick Kareem Martin can't stand up in a 3-4, but that doesn't seem to be his best fit. I did like them getting Ed Stinson in the 5th round, and he'll give them needed defensive line depth.

A few years from now, the best pick from this draft class could be fourth round pick Logan Thomas. Once thought to be a future #1 overall pick, Thomas never developed as a passer, and at this point, he needs a lot of work. He's a big, athletic quarterback with a strong arm, but is madly inconsistent, and forces the issue too many times. Bruce Arians has his work cut out, but Thomas has the tools and the upside to be a franchise quarterback. Worth the gamble in the mid-rounds IMO.

The Verdict: The Cardinals had an average draft overall. On the plus side, they got pretty good value with several of their picks, and came away with at least two immediate starters, and two more long-term starters. However, they reached for a couple of guys, one of which, most likely won't contribute anything on offense, and failed to address the offensive line.

Overall Grade: C-