The Arizona Cardinals selected a total of nine players in the 2013 NFL Draft. Now that it is over, the media and the Internet are abuzz with "draft grades." They don't mean much now because we don't know how these new players will actually do in the NFL. Nonetheless, we can look at fit and talent in terms of the team.
This is what we all think -- the overall grade, our favorite pick and our least favorite selection by the Cardinals.
Cards draft grade: A-
In the early rounds the Cardinals were able to draft immediate starters that matched up value wise to the pick. Cooper, Minter, and Mathieu will all get every chance to make an impact from day one, and have the talent to be significant improvements over the current talent at their respective positions. Day three the Cardinals just scooped up all the falling talent. Taylor, Swope, and Ellington were all drafted well past their projected round and give Arizona solid offensive weapons and depth. My only criticism is that they were not able to shore up the much maligned offensive tackle position or draft defensive line depth, but I'm sure Keim and Arians will address that in free agency and with UDFAs. Our front office has a plan for this team, and boy does it feel good.
Favorite pick: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Swope exemplifies exactly what teams should do on day three of the NFL Draft. Grab high upside talent that has fallen, creating a low risk, high reward scenario. No one counts on a 6th rounder to be a major contributor, but if Swope can stay healthy, he will be. 4.34 speed from the slot will be a godsend for Fitz and Floyd on the outside.
Least Favorite pick: Earl Watford, OG, James Madison.
I still like this pick, don't get me wrong, but the position is a little questionable. Assuming Cooper is the starting RG and Colledge is LG, the Cardinals have depth with Snyder and Kelemete. Watford is essentially what Kelemete was last year; a project guard who will need to sit for a year. He'll eventually battle for the LG spot with Senio, but I would have preferred some youth in the DL rotation.
Draft Grade: A
The team addressed all their needs while making plenty of steals. No reaches, and got the BPA in every round.
Favorite Pick: Andre Ellington. The guys a monster. He isn't fast, but he's quick in and out of cuts, he can be knocked down but maintain his balance to pick up an extra five to six yards before being brought down.
Least Favorite: Earl Watford. He'll be in the same position Kelemete was. Sitting for a year before getting his chance. No doubt when he comes out he'll be ready to go, but we could have acquired him later in the draft.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
At face value, the Cardinals only real reaches were probably the two guards and the tight end. In terms of scheme, Cooper and Watford fit the Cardinals a lot better than they would fit a power blocking team; in other words, they would have been graded higher than perhaps average due to fit. It's just one of many considerations that blur the lines between value, need, and the idea of "best player available." I feel the Cardinals got a lot of good players, and that every pick has a real chance to contribute to the team this year, even the second runningback. Strong draft from a new GM. Okafor is a questionable fit, and I worry that Mathieu and Swope won't be able to stay on the field, but the team got better.
Favorite Pick: Jonathan Cooper
A statement pick by the new front office showing they aren't afraid to defy convention and take their guy. The Cardinals may have a Pro Bowl offensive lineman!
Least Favorite Pick: DC Jefferson
It's a pretty good draft if the only pick you really don't like comes in the seventh round. He may have some upside but is this really a player that couldn't have been signed as a free agent? I'm not sure he even supplants Jim Dray on the depth chart, but he has a chance.
Draft Grade: A-
Team addressed some need positions with solid talent, and on the whole improved the team on both sides of the ball.
Favorite Pick: Kevin Minter.
Feel the trade down, pick up the extra 4th, and still select Minter was a great move. He plays the run well which the Cardinals did not do last year, a great tackler and an ideal fit in the 3-4, that whole move made so much sense and improved the team greatly.
Least Favorite Pick: Earl Watford
This guy stood out of the East West Shrine game, and put himself on the map, but I had him with a 6th round grade and felt we reached to fill a need when we should have taken the best player available, at that point there was some real good talent, and guards fell hard in this draft.
I'd give the Cardinals a B+ on this draft. Not the draftnik that some of the other guys are -- I rely only on public opinion and what I read about the selections. Therefore, my grade is somewhat disposable.
The selection I liked best was twofold: (a.) Jonathan Cooper in the first because of the obvious need with the offensive line and (b.) Tyrann Mathieu in the third because of the risk/reward possibility. it showed me the front office isn't afraid to take chances, in which ultimately they will be based, in their very first draft.
The pick I'm unsure of was the sixth rounder with Andre Ellington. I understand the value of the pick, he was rated what..probably 2nd or 3rd round? But the Cards drafted the Taylor kid from Stanford in the fifth to an already crowded backfield that Arians has said he prefers a single RB backfield. Overall, despite not attacking the safety position enough, IMO, very solid draft for the beginners.
I'm going with a B+. I didn't love Cooper but after watching his tape and learning more about him I think he is going to be great. Everyone but Mathieu and the TE make sense to me. I won't beat a dead horse on why I'm skeptical of the Honey Badger.
Favorite pick? Cooper. Take balls to draft a guard at seven. I like that Keim will do what he thinks is best and not follow tradition.
Tyrann Mathieu is my least favorite. Discipline issues don't go away because your best friend is going to baby sit you. I want to be wrong but I need him to prove it first with actions and not just words.
I agree nearly completely with Michael Oliver. My overall grade is B+. The TE pick was a throwaway. He probably will not displace Jim Dray, as was stated previously. Best move was the trade down which netted an extra pick, and we still got Minter, who I believe will be a better player over his career than Manti Te'o. Kudos to Keim, who made more trades in a single draft than his predecessor did in three.
Overall grade: B
Isn't it interesting that after Bruce Arians talked so much about not drafting for need that almost every pick filled one. "If you draft for need, you bust," is what he says. However, I am pleased with the draft. I think that the talent they got at positions of need worked out right. I really believe that they did follow their draft board.
Favorite pick: Jonathan Cooper
How could you not like this pick, other than say that you shouldn't select a guard that high? He is going to be able to step in Day 1 and improve the line.
Least favorite: Earl Watford
If the team was going to draft another lineman, I would have rather they gotten a center or a tackle. I don't hate the pick, but I think a tackle, safety or a tight end there would have made more sense if the team was going to look for players to fill needs. Of course, as they say, you can always find guards later in the draft, so he might end up being the guy that takes Daryn Colledge's spot in a year, and then it looks like a great pick. We'll see.
Draft Grade: A
The new front office worked the draft with incredible skill and made their mark on the franchise. They stuck to their philosophy and it netted great picks which met value, need, and greed (in reference to trades). This is exactly what you want to see out of a new staff. The only knock was that they didn't fully address the OLB position, it's the only piece that I still feel is lacking depth.
Favorite Pick: Jonathan Cooper
Cooper, he's a big man and a great player. I also think the drafting of a guard at number seven was a statement pick; if they can't trade down, then they'll still take the player they want and not worry about what people think about it. I'm looking forward to actually having a running game this year. That leads me to giving a shout out to the Mathieu pick, I never thought it would happen, but I think he's a special player and could be great in the Cardinals system.
Least Favorite: Ryan Swope, WR.
This position group is already stacked with talent. I definitely won't say it's a waste of a draft pick, but Swope has injury concerns and I have to think there was another safety or pass rushing prospect there that may have addressed a team need, rather than adding talent to the deepest position on the team.
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