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Arizona Cardinals News: Checking Out the NFL Draft Grades

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The biggest weekend in the NFL off season has come to an end but the draft certainly didn't disapoint. After two full days of live coverage and non-stop hoopla we've got just a short week before the first mandatory mini-camps get started (this weekend!!) and before you know it we'll be down in Gledale prepping for training camp. The Arizona Cardinals didn't get involved in any trades over the weekend, yes Boldin still wears red, and for the most part they just patiently waited their turn each round. Over the course of this week we'll take a much deeper look at each pick, look in on how our divisional mates faired this weekend and we'll look at some undrafted free agents who could interest the Red Birds, but for now here's how the 'experts' thought the Cardinals did this weekend:

Disclaimer: As I'm sure we're all aware, these draft grades are less than meaningless because no one truly knows how a group of players will project in the NFL and at the very least you'd have to give a draft class two or even three years to establish themselves before labeling them with a grade. With that being said, where's the fun in that.......

Yahoo (Charles Robinson):

Positive: Landing an explosive running back.
Negative: No defensive line help until sixth round.
Bottom line: B+. Getting Wells with the second-to-last pick in the first round was a coup. He adds exactly the kind of explosion the position needs. Brown should add some pass rushing help, but he'll need to get stronger to be a complete linebacker. Johnson is a good play maker who works hard all the time.

USA Today:

Grade B. Cardinals needed RB to complement Tim Hightower and found Chris Wells still on the board at 31. Durability issues may have dropped him but he's a tough inside runner and can only help the NFL's worst ground game. Rangy DE/LB Cody Brown fits in an area where incumbents Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor are getting up in years. Should give them some flexibility in their 3-4. Ballhawk DB Rashad Johnson will quickly find a role.

ESPN Mel Kiper:

Grade: B+

Chris Wells was a major acquisition for the Cardinals in the first round of this draft. He was a bargain for a team that was in dire need of a running back to rotate in with second-year back Tim Hightower. Wells gives this team the home run threat that the running game was sorely lacking last season. In addition to Wells, I liked the Cody Brown pick in the second round because he should be a good 3-4 rushing end in the Cardinals' system. Bringing in LSU offensive lineman Herman Johnson in the fifth round and Illinois defensive end Will Davis in the sixth were good pickups for this organization. While I thought Johnson was a bit overrated, he is huge and will give the line a big presence when he's on the field.

CBS (Pete Prisco):

This is an organization that has turned the corner when it comes to drafting. Grade: B

Best pick: Third-round pick Rashard Johnson is a rangy safety who has good instincts. He won't start, but should be a good special-teams player.
Questionable move: Not trading up to get Donald Brown. He fit their offense better than Beanie Wells.
Second-day gem: Greg Toler. Taken in the fourth round, this corner from St. Paul College has loads of physical skill.

Fox Sports:

After making it to their first Super Bowl, the Cardinals were in an unfamiliar position at the bottom of the first and second round. They came away with Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells and UConn linebacker Cody Brown. Wells, a powerful inside runner, has a chance to be the featured back next season because Tim Hightower is more of a third-down player.

The Cardinals rejected several low offers (no first-round picks) for unhappy receiver Anquan Boldin. Alabama safety Rashad Johnson plays a great center field and has a nose for the ball; he's a play maker. Corner back Gregory Toler flunked out of high school, but found a home at St. Pauls College, a small school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Toler is a boom-or-bust selection. LSU offensive lineman Herman Johnson once weighed in at 390 pounds and he probably will be used at guard. Grade: B

NBC Sports:

The Cards wanted a speed complement for Tim Hightower at No. 31 and did better than they ever could've imagined. Chris Wells, who cracked 4.4 at Pro Day, is Ken Whisenhunt's new Jerome Bettis. UConn DE Cody Brown was a reach at No. 63, but could push to start at outside linebacker when Chike Okeafor's contract expires in 2010.

Rashad Johnson, who learned under Nick Saban at Alabama, is a pro-ready free safety and LSU G/T Herman Johnson was a value pick in round five. Small-school CB Greg Toler is a project, though, and tiny RB LaRod Stephens-Howling is unlikely to have a career. Most importantly, Anquan Boldin is still a Cardinal. Grade: B


There's the so-called experts opinions on the Cardinals 2009 draft, but what did you think? Did they address all of the needs or looking back at how the draft played out, who would you have taken? Who's got the best chance to open the season as a starter and who is your sleeper in this draft class?