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Examining the Cardinals second and third round selections

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The Arizona Cardinals wrap up day two of the NFL Draft. Here’s a look at the names selected.

Arizona State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Three rounds later, the Cardinals now have three new faces to the roster. In the first round the Cardinals went with talented linebacker Haason Reddick, showing their emphasis on re-building the Defense.

They used their second selection, a trade up with the Bears, to select another Defensive prospect in the form of Budda Baker. Baker was overshadowed for much of the Draft process, due to the talented secondary class.

At the Combine, Baker posted the fifth fastest 40 time among safeties at 4.45. His 15 reps on the bench was good for just above average. His 32.5 vertical was among the bottom five of those tested. Baker did post the fastest 20 yard shuffle at 4.08 seconds.

In college, Baker was flanked by two NFL level corners in Kevin King and Sidney Jones. Jones recorded five interceptions, 18 passes defended, and 199 tackles in his three year career. He was targeted 142 times in his career, allowing 90 catches for a completion % of 63.4. He allowed 1100 yards in three seasons, five touchdowns to match his five interceptions. He allowed a career passer rating of 85.6.

Those numbers were skewed by a horrible Freshman year, which held four of his five touchdowns allowed, 606 of the 1100 yards posted, and a passer rating of 119.5.

Baker steadily improved each year he played, with his best statistical season his Junior season. Baker quickly identifies the ball, which greatly helps him beat his blockers on anything from a jet sweep to a screen play. Baker plays very well in or close to the box. He recorded two sacks, two QB hits, on 27 pass rushes in 2016.

Bakers backpedal is incredibly smooth. He is quick at changing directions, and his fantastic playing speed allows him to close gaps quickly. Baker has an aggression towards receivers that scouts loved. He is looking to throw you to the ground if the ball is heading your direction.

While he plays with crazy aggression, Baker tends to not play with discipline when it comes to tackling. Like most players coming out, Baker throws his shoulder into the ball carrier, something you can get away with in college, but not the NFL. He will run full speed at whoever is carrying the rock and go for the knockout hit, instead of breaking down and wrapping up.

The biggest knock against Baker is his size. At 5’10, 195, teams will only be able to use him in certain capacities. Baker will most likely not be able to cover the Tight Ends, as they were frequently tossing him around in college. He allows you to use him as a Strong Safety, someone who can play down in the box and make plays, or someone who can cover deep and make a play on the ball.

The Baker pick is an exciting one. Many scouts and analysts compared Baker to Tyrann Mathieu, due to obvious reasons. If both can stay healthy, the Cardinals have an exciting duo of playmakers in the secondary.


The other pick the Cardinals made was a little known Wide Receiver in the third round. Chad Williams will be the next small school, “Who is that” player taken under Arians and Keim.

Williams measures at 6’1, 205 pounds. He was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he burned first round pick Tre’Davious White for a touchdown on the first day. Williams only recorded one catch for 10 yards in the actual game, but it was his practice film that caught some eyes.

Williams followed up his Senior Bowl week, with a solid Pro Day. He posted a 4.37 40, 35.5 inch vertical, a 10-foot-3 broad jump, and pumped out 21 reps at the bench.

The receiver played for Grambling State, so his competition level was light. But as Arians and Keim have mentioned, it does not matter where you have played, so long as you were a step above your opponents. That definitely fits Williams.

His freshman season saw him play in 7 games, recording 11 grabs for 141 yards and two scores. His production increased steadily each year, posting 572 yards and five touchdowns his sophomore year, 1012 yards and 10 touchdowns his junior season, and ultimately capping at 1337 yards and 11 touchdowns to end his career.

Arians and Keim mentioned his game against Arizona as one that caught their attention. The Wildcats do not have a good Defense, but he scorched them with 13 catches for 152 yards.

Williams is not the biggest receiver. At 6’1 he isn’t going to be a redzone threat. But he does know how to use his 6’1 frame to help him win 50/50 balls. He uses his 32 inch arms to snag the ball before it reaches his body. He is not an easy player to bring down either, showcasing it on his one catch in the Senior Bowl, and on a consistent basis in college.

Right off the bat, the biggest knock against him is his legal issues he ran into prior to the 2016 season. In May of 2016, he was arrested in an LSU parking lot for possession of marijuana, possession of a firearm with drugs, fugitive from justice, and an outstanding bench warrant. Williams said all chargers against him were dropped, but was still suspended the opening game of his senior season.

Williams struggles early in his route. He takes far too long to get up to top speed, which allows defensive backs to stay close. He struggles to elude tacklers, which is why he tends to drag them with him. His route running needs refining, as heavy feet and stiff hips don’t lead to crisp routes.

This video here shows exactly what Williams has to offer, showcasing his ability to take big hits and still come down with the ball.

Obviously the Cardinals vetted his background. If they believed him to be an issue off the field, the Cardinals would not have touched him. The selection of Williams will be one to keep an eye on. Bruce Arians has a successful track record with receivers in the third round, and Williams could add to that.

In all, the second day of the Draft was interesting. The Cardinals likely knew they would not even bother with a Quarterback, opting not to draft Kizer or Webb, and instead building the Defense and adding another receiving threat. The final day of the Draft could see the Cardinals take a Quarterback, but with the lack of potential in what remains, it seems a long shot.

What do you grade the Cardinals second and third rounds? Was there someone else you would have taken at either pick? Or both? Discuss in the comments below.

Poll

What grade do you give day two?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    A
    (128 votes)
  • 49%
    B
    (183 votes)
  • 11%
    C
    (43 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
368 votes total Vote Now

*All stats courtesy of Fox Sports and Pro Football Focus

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