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2015 NFL draft results: Facts and notes from Day 3 of the draft

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Just some odds and ends from Saturday's picks.

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Arizona Cardinals draft notes:

  • In their first three NFL Drafts together, Cardinals GM Steve Keim and Head Coach Bruce Arians have taken 23 players - 14 on offense and nine on defense.
  • The Cardinals made two trades in this draft - trading down in the second round and trading up in the fourth round. In three drafts under Keim, the Cardinals have five draft day trades (2 in 2015, 1 in 2014 and 2 in 2013).
  • Two of the Cardinals 2015 selections (DE Rodney Gunter and OLB Shaq Riddick) were not invited to the NFL Combine.
  • Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cardinals had never selected a player from either Delaware State (Rodney Gunter) or Alabama-Birmingham (J.J. Nelson) in the draft.
  • Wrapping up in 13 hours and 45 minutes, the 2015 NFL Draft was the shortest seven-round draft ever, topping the previous record of 14 hours and five minutes.
  • Three of the Cardinals 2015 draft picks served as team captains in college - Markus Golden, David Johnson and Gerald Christian. Of the 23 players drafted by Steve Keim since he took over as GM in 2013, 17 served as captains during their college careers.

Cards trade up and select Gunter

  • The Cardinals entered the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 123rd overall selection and made a trade with Cleveland to move up to the 116th overall pick, where they selected DE Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State.
  • In moving up to select Gunter, the Cardinals swapped fourth round picks with Cleveland (123rd for 116th) and sent the Browns a sixth (198th) and seventh (241st).
  • Gunter becomes the first Delaware State player ever selected by the Cardinals in the NFL Draft and the first Hornets player taken since Washington selected WR Darnerian McCants in the fifth round (154th overall) in 2001. He is just the 10th Delaware State player ever selected in the draft.
  • Drafted by the Cardinals with the 116th overall selection, Gunter becomes the Hornets highest draft pick since San Francisco acquired future two-time Pro Bowl WR John Taylor with the 76th overall selection in 1986. Gunter is the third-highest draft pick ever from the school, behind only Taylor and RB Steve Davis (1971, 60th overall, Pittsburgh).

From underdog to draft pick

  • Gunter didn't get much attention from colleges coming out of Haines City (FL) High School, where he played just one season of football because he had to work to support his mom and siblings. After earning All-State honorable mention honors for that lone season, Delaware State was the only school to offer him a scholarship to play college football.
  • Led the team in sacks in each of his final three seasons.
  • A four-year starter and three-time All-MEAC selection at Delaware State, Gunter totaled 188 tackles, 34 tackles for loss 18.0 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery during his career. As a senior in 2014, he piled up 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and a career-high seven sacks.

Keim backs up pre-draft talk

  • In the annual pre-draft press conference earlier this week, GM Steve Keim talked about how the Cardinals have proven they don't have a problem selecting players from smaller schools. "I think one thing you can say about this organization is we've never shied away from small-school players," Keim said. "We've had some recent success with guys like Justin Bethel and some other players." Keim has proven that true again in 2015, taking players from schools outside the NCAA FBS in rounds three and four.
  • Dating back to his first draft as GM in 2013, Keim has now selected five players from schools outside of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. That total includes four picks in the last two drafts.

Player

Pos

Yr Drafted

Round (Pick)

College

Rodney Gunter

DE

2015

4th (116th)

Delaware State

David Johnson

RB

2015

3rd (86th)

Northern Iowa

John Brown

WR

2014

3rd (91st)

Pittsburg State

Walt Powell

WR

2014

6th (196th)

Murray State

Earl Watford

G

2013

4th (116th)

James Madison

  • There were four players selected in the first four round rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft that came from schools outside the NCAA FBS - and the Cardinals picked two of them. In addition to Johnson and Gunter, San Francisco selected Samford S Jaquiski Tartt in the second round (46th overall) and Tampa Bay selected Hobart G Ali Marpet in the second round (61st overall).

Riddick first pick in Round 5

  • With their first of two back-to-back picks in the fifth round (158th overall), the Cardinals selected OLB Shaq Riddick from West Virginia. He is the eighth Mountaineer player ever drafted by the Cardinals and first in over 20 years. The last West Virginia player drafted by Arizona was G Rich Braham and he was taken in the third round (76th overall) in 1994.
  • Riddick was one of three players named Shaq/Shaquille that was selected in the draft. There were none in the previous 79 NFL Drafts.
  • After spending his first three college seasons (2011-13) at Gardner-Webb, a member of the FCS, Riddick transferred to West Virginia in 2014 and went on to be named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by the conference's coaches.
  • In his lone season playing for the Mountaineers, Riddick started eight of 13 games played and totaled 27 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a DE.
  • As a junior at Gardner-Webb in 2013, Riddick was an FCS All-America selection at DE and finished fifth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the top defensive player in the FCS.
  • In his four seasons playing at Gardner-Webb and West Virigina, Riddick appeared in 43 games (24 starts) and accumulated 137 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
  • Riddick earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in three years from Gardner-Webb prior to transferring to West Virginia, where he is pursuing a master's degree in Communications. He played football for Buchtel (OH) High School and attended class at Akron (OH) Early College High School, which offered an advanced curriculum and college credits. He left Akron Early College High School with an associates degree and 70 hours of college credit.

Cards get speed with second Round 5 pick

  • With their second pick of the fifth round (159th overall), the Cardinals selected WR J.J. Nelson out of Alabama-Birmingham. Nelson is the first Blazers player ever selected by the Cardinals in the NFL Draft and just the 11th player ever drafted from the school.
  • Nelson was the fastest player at the 2015 NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians recalled seeing Nelson - who captured back-to-back Class 4A state championships in the 100 meter dash and another in the 200-meter - run during his high school days. "I was at a track meet five years ago, four years ago, in Alabama - the state championships and my granddaughter was running," Arians remembered. "This kid from Midfield won the 100, 200, 4x100 - little skinny dude. My son and I go, ‘Who in the hell is that?' It just happened to be J.J. Nelson."
  • Nelson and UAB teammate TE Kennard Backman, who was selected in the sixth round (213th overall) by Green Bay, may be the last two players ever drafted from the school. Alabama-Birmingham has announced that they discontinued its football program.
  • Nelson was a two-time Class 4A state champion in the 100 meters during his high school days in Alabama. He also captured a 200-meter title. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians
  • During his four seasons with the Blazers, Nelson averaged 19.6 yards per reception (116 catches for 2,273 yards) and of his 27 career TDs, 19 covered more than 40 yards.
  • Nelson appeared in 46 games (22 starts) and had 116 receptions for 2,273 yards and 20 TDs, while adding 18 rushing attempts for 90 yards and a TD. On special teams, he had 76 kickoff returns for 1,932 yards and five TDs and returned 35 punts for 375 yards and a TD.
  • His five career kickoff return TDs rank third all-time in Conference USA history and his four kickoff return TDs in 2014 led the NCAA. His 38.3-yard kickoff return average last year was also tops in the nation.
  • In 2014 Nelson became the first UAB player ever to be named a Walter Camp first-team All-American. He was also named first-team All-American by USA Today and CBSSports.com.
  • Current Cardinals assistant coach Antony Blevins was on the Alabama-Birmingham coaching staff in 2012 and helped assist with special teams when Nelson was there.

Cards make Gerald Christian Mr. Irrelevant

  • The Cardinals final pick (256th overall) was also the last selection of the 2015 draft, meaning Louisville TE Gerald Christian is this year's Mr. Irrelevant. The title bestowed each year on the last pick of the NFL Draft, this year marks the 40th Mr. Irrelevant since the tradition began in 1976 with Dayton WR Kelvin Kirk, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 487th pick in 1976.
  • With the selection of Christian, the Cardinals now have two players on the roster who entered the NFL as Mr. Irrelevant. QB Chandler Harnish was the final pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, taken by the Colts with the 253rd overall selection. Harnish announced the Cardinals selection of Christian.
  • Christian will be the guest of honor at Irrelevant Week in Newport Beach, CA this summer, where he will be feted with a weeklong series of events that includes a trip to Disneyland and recognition at either a Dodgers or Angels MLB game.
  • Arizona has had one previous Mr. Irrelevant, selecting BYU TE Tevita Ofahengaue with the final pick of the 2001 draft. The Cardinals also had the final pick of the draft in 1948, when they chose Notre Dame G Bill Fischer. Fischer returned to Notre Dame and won the 1948 Outland Trophy before being selected by the Cardinals again in 1949, this time with the 10th overall pick in the first round. He went on to be a three-time Pro Bowler in a five-year career.

From the Cardinals to the Cardinals

  • Christian becomes the sixth Louisville Cardinal player ever selected by the Cardinals in the NFL Draft, and just the second in the last 49 years (LB Brandon Johnson, 5th round, 142nd overall, 2006).
  • A native of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Christian was rated the No. 2 tight end in the country coming out of high school and originally attended the University of Florida, where he was appeared in eight games during his redshirt freshman season in 2011. He sat out of the 2012 season after transferring to Louisville.
  • During his two seasons at Louisville (2013-14) Christian started 21 of 26 games played and registered 60 receptions for 810 yards and nine TDs.
  • While attending Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) High School, Christian was a teammate of Buffalo Bills 2015 sixth round selection (194th overall) TE Nick O'Leary. Their 2009 team featured Christian, O'Leary, University of Tennessee LB Curt Maggitt, former Louisville WR Robert Clark, Baltimore Ravens S Matt Elam and Maryland DT Keith Bowers, among other future college recruits. On their way to the state title, they won their playoff games 53-0, 65-7, 42-6, 41-15 and 42-14.