2013 NFL Draft grades: Arizona Cardinals first three rounds criticized by SB Nation writers

Chris Graythen

Taking a closer look at Cardinals draft analysis from around the 'net. Is it too late for an Inception joke?

Grading the NFL draft, especially so swiftly after the weekend is over, can be somewhat of an exercise in futility. Of course no one can predict the career arcs of each player selected (and those who weren't). That's not really the point, though, is it? The first wave of grades are an attempt to justify the projections and team fits that analysts and personnel people have been working so hard on curating for the last year or more. SB Nation has released an early impression of each team's draft, so let's take a look.

Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

Because a top-100 pick was used on him, Tyrann Mathieu is the riskiest pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Hit, and the Cardinals can have a disruptive free safety. Miss, and it's a wasted pick and it could negatively affect budding star corner Patrick Peterson. Minter is a good tackler but not much of an athlete. Cooper was still a good choice at seven. The Cardinals really need to find an offensive tackle and outside linebacker at some point in this draft.

Grade: C+

- Dan Kadar, via SB Nation.com

The lowest grade the Cardinals received from your friendly neighborhood Revenge of the Birds writers was a "B." Reader grades in the comments are comparably high. Are we all just a bunch of Kool-Aid sipping homers, or did Mr. Kadar miss the mark?

It reads to me as if the grade hangs almost solely on the selection of Tyrann Mathieu. Teams miss on third round picks all the time, but rarely is a player with Mathieu's electrifying talent available at such a late point in the draft. His character concerns are well-documented but the idea that his potential failure will waste not only the draft pick but somehow drag Patrick Peterson down in flames as well seems a bit dramatic.

Normally, the grade would be weighted mostly by the earlier picks, especially when a team is selecting in the top 10. Kadar seems happy with the Cooper pick, but is ambivalent about Kevin Minter. He doesn't appear to factor the trade down in the second round to acquire Minter and an extra fourth-round pick.

In his own rankings, Kadar has Cooper as the 8th best prospect and Minter the 62nd. Solid value in the first, then, but he no doubt looks at Minter as a little bit of a reach, being selected with the 45th pick in the draft. Other sources, though, have Minter much higher. Walterfootball has Minter ranked 27th, eight spots ahead of Manti Te'o, the player selected with the pick vacated by the Cardinals in their trade. Minter is also Draftek's number one ILB, rated the 31st overall player. I can't fault Kadar for sticking to his own board, or citing offensive tackle and outside linebacker as neglected team needs, but again, I'd think the overall grade would be more influenced by a strong seventh-overall selection than some flight of fancy involving Tyrann Mathieu single-handedly sinking half of the Cardinals starting secondary.

Filed under, "The Good," Matthew Fairburn is more enthusiastic about the Cardinals later rounds.

Skill Players, Arizona Cardinals -- Ryan Swope flew under the radar a bit at Texas A&M, but he has tons of speed and could be another nice weapon for a developing Cardinals passing attack. Arizona picked up some offensive line talent in this draft early with Jonathan Cooper, and the skill position players they got should bring some life to the team again. Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington will give the team a nice combination at running back.

No doubt intoxicated by the vapors of value streaming from each of the Cardinals day three selections, most analysts were pleased the team stopped the slide of Okafor, Taylor, Ellington and Swope. The Cardinals infused their offense with depth and talent, easing concerns over an untested stable of running backs and a lack of speed and receiving options in the slot behind Andre Roberts. The picks were as sensible, with the team addressing offensive line and defense earlier in the draft, as they were trendy.

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