Live Arizona Cardinals Draft Analysis

The Arizona Cardinals are a few pieces away from being Super Bowl contenders. If it weren’t for an historic meltdown by Carson Palmer in the NFC Championship game, the Cardinals may have been holding the first-round’s last pick this year. Instead, Arizona holds the 29th pick. After acquiring Chandler Jones from the Patriots, the Cardinals no longer have a second-round pick, making each selection crucial.

Team Needs: Cornerback, Offensive Tackle, Center, Defensive Tackle (Round 1, Pick #29

Robert Nkemdiche | DE/DT | Ole Miss| Junior | 6’4″ | 294 lbs

Based on talent alone, Robert Nkemdiche is one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects. Boasting ideal size for an exterior 3-4 defensive end, the former Rebel becomes special when you factor in his rare combination of strength, speed and athleticism. In a very deep class for the position, Nkemdiche is widely considered the highest-upside player. Several off-field issues, however, raised red flags for organizations — causing his slide to the Cardinals at pick 29. With the maturity turnaround we’ve seen from Tyrann Mathieu, it’s not likely that Nkemdiche will be a distraction. The pairing of Nkemdiche with newly acquired Chandler Jones, should create a solid one-two punch of pass-rushing defensive ends to improve upon the team’s 20th overall rank in sacks from a season ago.

 

Round 3, Pick #92

Brandon Williams | CB | Texas A&M | Senior | 5’11” | 197 lbs

In Brandon Williams, the Cardinals receive an explosive athlete with an extremely high ceiling. After playing running back for the first three years of his collegiate career, the man who ran a 4.37 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine switched to the other side of the ball. As a first year corner playing in the SEC, Williams played well enough to warrant a third-round pick. While it’s entirely possible that the learning curve will be too much for him to handle, it’s equally likely that since he’s played the position for such a short time, yet with decent enough success, he still has a lot of room for improvement. 

 

Round 4, Pick #128

Evan Boehm | C | Missouri | Senior | 6’2″ | 309 lbs

Just like that, the Cardinals address their next highest priority by securing a potential anchor on their offensive line. Evan Boehm was a four year starter at Missouri — playing against the biggest defensive lineman in the country. Durability has been an issue with Cardinals’ lineman, but it won’t be one with Boehm. As a freshman, Boehm started the entire season after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Tigers’ first game. While he lacks ideal size up front, his toughness and leadership qualities should allow him to play for a long time.

 

Round 5, Pick #167

Marqui Christian | S | Midwestern St. | Senior | 5’10” | 196 lbs

Marqui Christian looks to have a wildly high ceiling. But of course, coming from Midwestern St., playing against lesser competition, his floor may be more like a trap door. Playing as a free-roaming safety, Christian displayed incredible natural instincts and a great ability to read the quarterback at the snap. His ability to read a play is ideal, as the former Mustang doesn’t display tremendous open-field speed. In college, he demonstrated the ability to pack a lot of power in his tackles, but in order to do so at the next level, Christian should look to put on some more weight. This could be a very good move for the Cardinals, as they may have added another playmaker to this ball-hawking secondary.

 

Round 5, Pick #170

Cole Toner | T | Harvard | Senior | 6’5″ | 306 lbs

Standing at 6’5″ and weighing 306 lbs., the senior from Harvard has a solid foundation to play at the next level. As a former basketball player, Toner figures to have the athleticism and lateral quickness to adapt to the NFL’s speed coming off the edge. His tape, however, sometimes suggests otherwise. While his blocking skills against Ivy League competition looks very solid, Toner’s technique looks questionable at times. Those fundamental issues could prove detrimental to his value as a pass protector against the aggressive AFC West defenses. If Toner is going to make it in the NFL, he must work to improve his lateral quickness. 

 

Round 6, Pick #205

Harlan Miller | CB | Southeastern Louisiana | Senior | 6’0″ | 182 lbs

With their last pick, the Cardinals elected to grab another potential playmaker in the secondary. In Miller’s last three seasons, he broke up 33 passes — 11 of which he turned into interceptions. The Cardinals’ ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ could actually prove quite relevant if he’s able to add some weight on his 182 lb. frame. Miller certainly doesn’t figure to start for the Cardinals’ uber-talented secondary, but if he can bridge the talent gap from the small Southland Conference to the NFL, don’t be too surprised to see this playmaker find his way onto the roster, and occasionally into the rotation in deeper pass-protection packages. 

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