Coming into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals needed to fill plenty of holes on the roster left with the departure of key free agents. General Manger Steve Kiem and the company needed to find players that could help the Cardinals win immediately.
With the draft is now in the books, the Arizona Cardinals made improvements with their selections, addressing the needs that the roster presented.
First round selection
With the 13th pick in the draft the Cardinals selected Haason Reddick, linebacker out of Temple. At 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, Reddick possess the size and athleticism teams desire at the linebacker position.
In four seasons at Temple Reddick accumulated 149 total tackles with 47 tackles for a loss and totaled 17.5 sacks.
This pick is for the present and future for the Cardinals. Karlos Dansby will turn 36 in November. Reddick will be mentored by one of the best linebackers in Cardinals franchise history. Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher will find a way to use Reddick’s strength and versatility.
Reddick could see a significant amount of plays in his rookie season. Head coach Bruce Arians has said that Reddick was drafted to play in Arizona’s sub packages, which he said the Cardinals play about 65 percent of the time. Reddick’s transition into a nickel linebacker will be helped by his ability to drop back into coverage. He could potential emerge as a player the Cardinals want to keep on the field.
Day two of the draft
In the second round the Cardinals traded up nine spots to draft Budda Baker, safety out of Washington. At 5-foot-9 and 195 founds, Baker might not have the size of a traditional NFL safety, but he makes up for it with great instincts and his ability to make plays on the ball.
Baker is the type of multi-dimensional safety that the Cardinals desire. He has been compared to players such as Arizonas’ safety Tyrann Mathieu and Seattle’s Earl Thomas. Drafting Baker gives the Cardinals an insurance policy just in case Mathieu goes down to injury.
Once again James Bettcher will have the ability to change schemes without having to substitute players, which was one of the things that made Arizona’s defense effective in 2015.
In the third round the Cardinals elected to draft wide receiver Chad Williams out of Grambling State University. At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, Williams has the speed that Arians loves in his wide receivers. Williams was second team FCS All-American last season, catching 90 passes for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns.
If Williams can adjust to the NFL quickly, he is the could earn his spot at the as the number four receiver in the Cardinals rotation. With his size and speed, he could be the deep option for Carson Palmer, something that the Cardinals did not do much of in 2016.
Hidden gems found on day three
In the fourth round the Cardinals drafted one of the best guards in this year’s draft class, Dorian Johnson out of Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-4, 300 pounder started 39 consecutive games at Pittsburgh, switching from tackle to guard. Johnson could be another pick for the future, eventually being the replacement for Mike Iupati. Going into training camp, Johnson could also compete with second year man Evan Boehm for the starting job at right guard.
In the fifth round the Cardinals selected another offensive lineman, selecting Will Holden out of Vanderbilt. This is the second pick the Cardinals use for the future as the see Holden as the replacement for Jared Veldheer. Holden is 6-foot-7 and 311 pounds. At Vanderbilt Holden was known for his toughness and fundamentals. The addition of Holden gives the Cardinals a swing tackle, a backup that can play either left or right tackle.
With their second pick in the fifth round, the Cardinals addressed a need in special teams by drafting T.J. Logan out of North Carolina. Though he was the number two back at North Carolina, Logan proved he could be an offensive spark plug when given the chance. Logan can be a valuable back up to David Johnson, as he rushed for 2,165 yards and scored 19 touchdowns in four seasons. Where Logan will make a name for himself is in special teams. While at North Carolina, Logan accumulated 2,098 yards and five touchdowns on kick return.
The Cardinals final pick in the draft came in the sixth round, picking Ruby Ford out of Auburn. During his time at Auburn, Ford played every position in the Tigers backfield. Primarily a safety in college, the Cardinals organization has informed the 22-year-old that he will play corner. Ford will compete against Justin Bethel and 2016 third round pick Brandon Williams for the number two corner spot. His biggest weakness is that he gives to much space down field in man-to-man coverage, but is solid in zone coverage.
This draft class had the feel of a successful Steve Kiem/ Bruce Arians draft. Unlike the 2016 class, there are players that can make immediate impacts right away. Some of these guys will could find themselves as a long-term member of the Arizona Cardinals franchise. This draft makes the roster stronger, putting the Cardinals back into the playoff conversation for the upcoming season.
Overall Draft Grade: A-