The 2015 NFL draft has come and gone, and all teams got better in some areas -- some in more areas than others.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim did the unthinkable and took an offensive tackle with the No. 24 overall pick, bringing in former Florida standout D.J. Humphries.
The Humphries pick did not fill an immediate need, but it is a potential upgrade. He and veteran Bobby Massie, who started all 16 games a year ago, will compete for the starting right tackle spot this offseason.
Second-round pick Markus Golden has drawn comparisons to new teammate LaMarr Woodley and former Pittsburgh Steelers great James Harrison, which might explain why Keim was comfortable taking him so high despite Golden's Day 3 projection.
Golden made plays in the backfield weekly for the Missouri Tigers. In fact, in his two seasons as a full-time player, he had a Production Ratio of 1.83 -- that is, he made 1.83 plays behind the line of scrimmage per game in two years, which includes sacks tackles for a loss.
How good is that? Consider this: Randy Gregory, thought by many to be a top-10 pick if not for his off-field issues, had a two-year Production Ratio of 1.79 while at Nebraska; and Alvin Dupree, the talented pass-rusher who nearly fell all the way to the Cardinals at 24, put up a 1.59 Production Ratio over the final two years of his Kentucky career.
He is not flashy, but Golden makes plays by never giving up and by almost always being where he is supposed to be.
Third-round pick David Johnson, the big running back out of Northern Iowa, seems to be most fans' favorite pick -- and for good reason.
Johnson is an upright runner who flashes power at times but has plenty of athleticism and speed to break the big run. Here is his spider chart, courtesy of MockDraftable.com:
What the chart tells us is he is one of the best among his positional peers in several key categories. The vertical and broad jumps are intended to give teams an idea of how explosive a player is; Johnson tested extremely well here, recording a vertical leap of 41.5 inches and a broad jump of 10'7".
His 4.50 40-yard dash ranked fourth among backs at this year's NFL Scouting combine.
Keim traded up in Round 4 to select defensive end Rodney Gunter out of Delaware State. There isn't much tape on him to study, and the fact that he had never heard of Gunter may be why the fan above feels he was a reach. But Keim reassured fans of the pick:
The kid has tremendous upside. A lot of fans are probably going to say, ‘Who is Rodney Gunter?' I have a pretty strong conviction, Coach (Bruce Arians) has pretty strong conviction, that in the next couple years fans are going to know real well who Rodney Gunter is.
The pair of fifth-round picks, outside linebacker Shaquille Riddick and wide receiver J.J. Nelson, were taken back-to-back at Nos. 158 and 159 overall thanks to the extra pick Keim netted in a Round 2 trade-back. Riddick, out of West Virginia, has some upside as a pass-rusher and has put on significant weight since coming in at 245 during his pro day.
Riddick told reporters during his introductory conference call he does weigh 260 pounds, but he mentioned that despite his heftier build, he is still "slim." That means he could stand to put on even more weight without having to worry much about ligaments and tendons being strained because he has such a big frame -- see: Andre Ellington's foot injury last season.
Then we come to Nelson. The former Alabama-Birmingham speedster was the fastest player at the combine, blazing a ridiculous 4.28-second 40. He will enter his first professional offseason in the mix for kick-returning duties, and if he has good hands and can run clean routes, he could earn some playing time at receiver early.
He is very similar to last year's speedy rookie receiver, John Brown. All Brown did in his first offseason was show perfect hands and route-running ability. No pressure, Nelson.
And finally, we round this out with Mr. Irrelevant, former Louisville tight end Gerald Christian. While he may not be an immediate threat in the passing game, he can realistically make the team out of training camp due to his ability to move people as a blocker.
He is powerful, putting up a tight end combine-high 28 reps in the bench press, and he regularly follows through with his blocks. Whereas John Carlson and Rob Housler sort of meet defenders at the point of the block, Christian makes his ending point a yard behind the defender and places him there with little effort.
The 6'3", 244-pounder is proficient as a blocker, but he does possess some upside in the passing game. He didn't rack up the receiving stats at Louisville, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
Quarterback Carson Palmer loves a reliable tight end. With some work, Christian may just become that.