When the 2017 NFL Draft process started in January, after the players had declared and we knew who mattered as underclassmen, there was always one name that was at the top of my list of players I wanted in Arizona.
When the Cardinals decided to bring in Karlos Dansby, that threw a slight wrinkle in the how soon this guy would play, but it didn’t change the fact that Zach Cunningham was always going to be at the top of my wish list for the Arizona Cardinals.
People mistake the idea of wanting to draft a quarterback at 13, but if they don’t, it really doesn’t matter. They need to continue to build for the future as they have done the last three drafts. It has worked extremely well with Deone Bucannon, looks promising with D.J. Humprhies and you are hoping that Robert Nkemdiche takes that next step.
For the inside linebacker position, Dansby is only on a one year deal, so bringing in a player at 13 or 45 that sits, learns and plays sparingly in 2017 isn’t a bad thing, it is in fact a very good thing.
That is where Cunningham comes in.
While Reuben Foster has the pedigree, Haason Reddick is the hot name, Cunningham may just be the linebacker the Arizona Cardinals have been waiting for.
The long, lean Cunningham reminds me of Karlos Dansby coming out. Slightly awkward in his build, Cunningham uses his length to his advantage in both the running game and in coverage.
His best use is as a run and chase linebacker, having freedom to roam, much like how the Cardinals like to employ their linebackers.
He is lean and needs to add some strength in his upper body, but he is a natural play maker, who was always around the ball despite having little help at Vanderbilt.
Cunningham may seem rich at 13, but his size, athleticism and natural play making ability is unique. If he is able to follow the same career trajectory as Dansby, who would complain?