Every year the fine folks who cover the NFL Draft are tasked with creating an immediate reaction to what just happened.
Before a player steps on the field in the NFL, they are expected to give us a grade and create outrage, either against the grade or against the picks. Unless you are one of the few teams who receives high praises.
The funny thing is, those grades change quickly and often.
That is why when Mel Kiper Jr. releases his 2018 NFL Draft re-grades, it is always fun to see how he has changed over the year.
Post-draft grade: C+
This is a tough one. Arizona was the league’s worst team in 2018, and it was a one-and-done year for coach Steve Wilks. And yet the Cardinals got production out of their rookies. Day 2 picks Christian Kirk (43 catches, 3 TDs) and Mason Cole (played 99.9 percent of offensive snaps at center) were solid. Running back Chase Edmonds (fourth round) and linebacker Zeke Turner(undrafted) got some snaps, and so did offensive linemen Korey Cunningham (seventh round) and Colby Gossett (sixth round; cut by Vikings), if only because Arizona’s offensive line was devastated by injuries.
But if the team isn’t sold on quarterback Josh Rosen, how could I be? I’m surprised to see so many folks down on the former UCLA star this offseason. He is super talented and didn’t get a ton of help in Year 1. There’s no doubt he struggled, though, and he looked out of his depth far too often. Still, are the Cardinals really going to trade him after one year of evaluating him on a terrible team? We knew he needed some time to develop, and he’s still just 22. Besides, if Arizona trades Rosen and drafts Kyler Murray No. 1, Murray is going to struggle behind that offensive line, too.
And so the Cardinals got a lot of snaps out of rookies, but I wouldn’t count all of them as productive snaps. And the Rosen conundrum makes me drop them a little further.
New grade: C+
This has been about where I think the team deserved to be. We praised them because so many rookies played, but putting bad players on the field and then having bad results does not equal a good rookie class. It equals a bad team.
I think everyone can agree that there should be growth from the top three picks, and Korey Cunningham is an intriguing name to watch, however Chris Campbell was cut and there is already talk of another running back being brought it. If that were to happen, the whole thing with Chase Edmonds must be reevaluated as well.
Overall, I think you saw potential, but also a dire need for improvement if the Cardinals are going to take the next step.