Arizona Cardinals: Draft Grades and Recap

Arizona Cardinals: Draft Grades and Recap

by April 29, 2019 0 comments

During the draft, the Cardinals built up assets to help construct the future of their franchise.

The NFL draft has concluded. Coming into the draft the Arizona Cardinals needed to add some defensive line, secondary, receiver, and offensive line depth. They started the draft by drafting Kyler Murray, the perfect quarterback for the Air-Raid offense. They followed that up by adding some defensive players and a speedy receiver to throw to.

However, the Cardinals did not attack the offensive line like they needed to. They did not draft an offensive lineman until the 6th round and with Murray being a smaller quarterback, it seemed the offensive line would have been a significant need for the Cardinals. Perhaps they figure Murray will get the ball out his hands quick and make plays with his legs.

Round 1, Selection 1

Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Oklahoma 

Grade: A

Kyler Murray was the perfect pick for the Arizona Cardinals. When Kliff Kingsbury became the coach, there could not have been a better fit. Last season at Oklahoma, Murray threw for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes. The Cardinals will run Kingsbury’s air-raid style offense, so this offense fits Kyler Murray perfectly. He can throw the ball short as well as down the field with high accuracy. Coach Kingsbury got his man; it is the perfect match.

Round 2, Selection 33

Byron Murphy, Cornerback, Washington

Grade: B

Murphy gives the Cardinals some much-needed depth at the corner position. Murphy could push Robert Alford for the starting position, but he is better fitted for the nickel corner position. Last season at Washington, Murphy had four interceptions and 17 pass breakups. The former Washington Huskie has strong off-man cover skills and is a willing tackler for his small size. Murphy has the perfect ability set to be a nickel corner for years to come. At first, I questioned the pick because the Cardinals should have gotten Kyler Murray a receiver or offensive lineman, but solidifying the secondary was also a top priority.

Round 3, Selection 48

Andy Isabella, Wide Reciever, Massachusetts

Grade: B-

Isabella ran 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine; he was flying. At 5-foot-9 he will be the perfect slot receiver for the Air Raid offense. He will also be Murray’s safety blanket with the speed and quickness to get open and not afraid to catch the ball in traffic. At UMass last season, Isabella caught 102 passes for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. I thought the Cardinals would go for a bigger target here but ended up taking Isabella. The former Umass star can also return kicks and punts, so there is a lot of value with this selection.

Round 3, Selection 65

Zach Allen, Defensive End, Boston College

Grade: B-

Drafting Zach Allen adds more depth to the Cardinals’ front seven, and Allen should see playing time immediately. He is the prototypical five-technique guy in a 3-4 scheme. At Boston College last season, Allen had 6.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Allen is a powerful man that likes to compete. He will be an outstanding run stopper for the Cardinals defense.

Round 4, Selection 103

Hakeem Butler, Wide Reciever, Iowa State

Grade: A

In Butler, the Cardinals finally get their outside receiver. At 6-foot-5, Butler has great size and speed for a receiver. Butler has an outstanding catch radius and tracks the ball well. Last season at Houston, Butler caught 60 passes for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. The newly drafted Butler will need to work on his hands, as he dropped 21 passes in the last two years. I like this pick for the Cardinals because Butler will get a chance to learn from a future Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald. Butler is also a load to bring down after the catch. Look for Butler to stretch the field with his speed and open up things for Andy Isabella and Fitzgerald underneath.

Round 5, Selection 139

Deionte Thompson, Safety, Alabama 

Grade: C+

Deionte Thompson will have the potential to shut down the middle of the field. He has good hands and great instincts which could lead to big-play potential. Last season at Alabama, Thompson picked off two passes and recorded 79 tackles. Thompson adds more safety depth and probably will be used in passing situations. This pick was a good value pick; I went low on the grade because the Cardinals should have drafted an offensive lineman here because that position is a mess.

Round 6, Selection 174

KeeSean Johnson, Wide Receiver, Fresno State

Grade: B-

Johnson is another good receiver for the Air-Raid offense. He is good on quick outs and quick screens. Johnson will be a top receiver to have to move the chains. The former Bulldog does not have top-end speed, but he will benefit from learning from Larry Fitzgerald on how to run routes and get open on the NFL level. Last season, Johnson caught 95 passes for 1,340 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnson could stick as the fourth or fifth receiver on the roster and could make some impact this year.

Round 6, Selection 179

Lamont Gaillard, Center, Georgia 

Grade: B+

In Gaillard, the Cardinals are getting a tough and proven leader for their offensive line. He plays with tremendous effort and has a very high football IQ. Gaillard will need to work on refining his body at the NFL level. The former Georgia center is a bulldozer in the power running scheme. It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals use him. The Cardinals could move Gaillard to guard if they need to since they have two other centers on their roster.

Round 7, Selection 248

Joshua Miles, Offensive Tackle, Morgan State

Grade: C+

Miles will be a project for the Arizona Cardinals. He has some long arms and is athletic and he could be a starter, but he will need some time to develop because he is so raw. Miles could also spend some time at guard for the Cards. The more reps and coaching he gets will turn him into a better player. With the Cardinals offensive line being a mess, he could get his chance sooner rather than later. Hopefully he has time to develop and does not get rushed into starting.

Round 7, Selection 249

Michael Dogbe, Defensive Tackle, Temple

Grade: B-

Dogbe is an undersized tackle at 6-foot-4 and 284 pounds. He is not explosive enough to be the top 3 technique and is too small to play the nose. Dogbe does have quick first step and some nice pass rushing moves to get by defenders. Last season at Temple, he posted 72 tackles (12.5 for a loss) and seven sacks. This was a good value pick for the Cardinals and maybe he can develop into something special.

Round 7, Selection 254

Caleb Wilson, Tight End, UCLA

Grade: A

I like this pick for the Cardinals. Wilson has the traits to be a good tight end, and when healthy he has had plenty of production. The athleticism is there; he needs to work on route running and balls skills to become an effective receiving tight end. Wilson is not a good blocker; maybe the Cardinals can help improve on that also. Last season, Wilson caught 60 passes for 965 yards and four touchdowns. I can see Wilson being a practice squad player, but if he develops fast, he could see some time this year.

Although the Cardinals did not draft offensive linemen early, they picked up some projects in the later rounds. I think the Cardinals got a lot better in this draft; drafting Murray and getting some weapons will go a long way with the team.

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