Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft Review

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Josh Rosen

After a dissapointing 8-8 season in which the team missed the playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals went through a complete coaching staff change. Former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was hired as the head coach and he brought along Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator. The Cardinals also endured a pretty big roster shakeup early this offseason. All three quarterbacks that were on the roster last season are gone, safety Tyrann Mathieu was released and Arizona lost three of their top six receivers from a season ago.

The Cardinals had some big needs to fill come draft weekend and general manager Steve Keim was willing to make a trade to ensure they got the guy they wanted. Here is the details of the trade the Cardinals executed:

  • Traded 15th overall pick 79th overall pick and 152nd overall pick to Oakland Raiders for 10th overall pick

Arizona traded away offensive tackle Jared Veldheer to the Denver Broncos to garner a sixth round pick back in March. Here are the six selections the Cardinals made this past weekend.

First round, 10th overall pick: Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA

Second round, 47th overall, Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M

Third round, 97th overall, Mason Cole, Center, Michigan

Fourth round, 134th overall, Chase Edmunds, Running Back, Fordham

Sixth round, 182nd overall, Christian Campbell, Cornerback, Penn State

Seventh Round, 181st overall, Korey Cunningham, Offensive Tackle, Cincinnati

Arizona Cardinals 2018 Draft Grade: 9.1/10 A-

Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft Review

The Best Player: Josh Rosen

The Cardinals were one of the several quarterback needy teams going into this draft but faced an unfavorable position. Arizona held the 15th overall pick and had four other QB needy teams selecting ahead of them. Come the night of the first round, all the things went the right way for the Cardinals. The New York Giants took a running back, the Denver Broncos selected a defensive end.  The New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills selected quarterbacks of their own, but all passed on Rosen.

As Rosen kept falling, Keim and the Cardinals knew they had to attempt to trade up for the UCLA quarterback. They eventually found a trade partner in the Oakland Raiders and drafted Rosen 10th overall. Rosen looked to be a lock to go in the top three overall picks, at the very least the top five, but somehow he managed to slip past the first nine picks.

The scouting report on Rosen is as polished as any quarterback in this draft class. Depending on who you talked to, Rosen was considered the most natural pocket passer of the quarterback class and played in a pro-style offense at UCLA. The only knocks on him were his injury history – one shoulder surgery and two concussions – and the uncertainty of his attitude. Prior to the draft, Rosen made comments about not wanting to play for the Browns. Additionally, former head coach Jim Mora went on to say Rosen has a “millenial attitude” and “needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored.”

When it’s all said and done, Rosen probably has as much as a chance as Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold to be the best quarterback in this draft class. Falling to 10 seems to have motivated Rosen, which could be good news for the Cardinals.

The Head Sratcher: How The Cardinals Finessed the Raiders

It was surprising to see the Cardinals swap first-round picks with the Oakland Raiders. Surprise turned to shock when it was revealed that Arizona only gave up a third and fifth-round pick to do it.

In recent history, trading up in the first round comes at a hefty price, particularly more when you want to draft a quarterback. In a very similar situation, the Kanas City Chiefs last year gave up two first round picks and a third rounder to move from 27th to 10th overall and select Patrick Mahomes. In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams moved up from 15th to first overall and it cost them a total of two first rounders, two second rounders and two third rounders. You do not even have to dig deep in the history book for an example. This year the New Orleans Saints moved up from 27th to 14th overall with the Green Bay Packers and had to give up two first rounders and a fifth rounder to select Marcus Davenport.

I don’t know what Keim said to the Raiders front office, but this trade has the potential to be one of the best steals in draft history.

The Surprise: Chase Edmonds

Star running back David Johnson missed the entire 2017 season with a wrist injury and the lack of depth at the position hurt the Cardinals offense. So much so, that they had to make a trade for veteran Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a handful of solid games but Arizona decided to release the veteran during the off-season.

Johnson is arguably the best running back in the NFL when healthy, so selecting a running back this year seemed unnecessary. If they did take a running back, many thought it was going to be in the last round or two. Instead, the Cardinals used their fourth round pick on Edmonds, a smaller bodied scat-back.

Edmunds was a fine back in college but the pick was a surprise considering John Kelly and Jordan Wilkins were still on the board. Edmonds was a four year starter at Fordham and tallied up over 6,000 all-purpose yards during his career. He was a dynamic factor in the passing game and if he can translate that skillset over to the NFL, Edmonds could spell Johnson and be an effective third down back in passing situations.

The Steal: Christian Kirk

Let’s not fool ourselves, Rosen was the biggest steal but to avoid sounding like a broken record, we can highlight the Cardinals second biggest steal of the draft Christian Kirk. 15-year veteran Larry Fitzgerald is still producing at a high level but the past few seasons, he has had very little help around him. Wide receiver was arguably the second biggest need for Arizona going into this draft and fortunately for them they were able to come away with one of the better ones in this draft.

Kirk was extremely productive during his collegiate career at Texas A&M. In three seasons, he tallied up 234 receptions, 2,856 receiving yards and 26 receiving touchdowns. Kirk was also a factor in the return game returning six punts for touchdowns and averaged 22 yards per return during his career. He is an excellent route runner, great in the open space and is as competitive as they come. A lot of scouts had Kirk ranked as the fourth best receiver in this year’s draft class so to land him with the 47th overall pick was pretty fortunate for Arizona.

Most Likely to Turn Heads at Training Camp: Mason Cole

Arizona’s offensive line was pretty bad last year and drafting an offensive lineman who can come in start was a need for the Cardinals in this draft. Mason Cole out of Michigan is a versatile and athletic offensive lineman that played left tackle, left guard and center for the Wolverines. Cole is not overpowering in the run game but he utilizes his quickness and his footwork to move linemen efficiently.

In the NFL, Cole is best suited as a center but could be a swing guard for the Cardinals as well. Because of Arizona’s offensive line troubles, Cole should get a chance to earn a starting spot on the offensive line this training camp.

The Rest

In the sixth round of the draft, the Cardinals selected Christian Campbell out of Penn State. Campbell was a one year starter for the Nittany Lions and tallied 41 tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions during his final season. At 6’1″ 195 pounds, Campbell has the ideal size for a big body press corner but will have to work on his speed and man coverage abilities to find the field.

The Cardinals used their final pick to select Korey Cunningham out of Cincinnati. Cunningham was a solid pass blocking offensive tackle but looked off-balanced at times in the run game. He will have to work on his technique and balance if he hopes to make the Cardinals final roster.

Bottom Line

While they only made six selections – three of them with a chance to contribute right away – the Cardinals walked away with arguably the best overall draft this past weekend. Both their first two picks were some of the biggest steals of the draft and both filled big needs on their roster. Cole and Edmonds were solid enough picks and the fact they did not have to trade away two first rounders to move up to 10th overall is still mindblowing. A job well done by Keim and his front office.

 

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