When one takes a close look at the Cleveland Browns’ 2018 draft and the Arizona Cardinals’ 2019 draft—-in certain ways they are remarkably similar.
Both the Browns and the Cardinals had the 1st pick in their respective drafts.
Both the Browns and the Cardinals had taken the #4 QB in their previous drafts. The Browns selected Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer at #52 (R2) in 2017 and the Cardinals traded up from #15 (R1) to select UCLA QB Josh Rosen at #10 (R1) in 2018.
Both Kizer and Rosen started the vast majority of the games as rookies and both struggled mightily:
Kizer: 15 games (0-15): 53.6%, 2,894, 11/22, 60.5 QBR
Rosen: 14 games (3-10): 55.2%, 2,278, 11/14, 66.7 QBR
It’s not easy for a rookie starting for the worst team in the NFL.
In March of 2018, knowing they were going to take a QB at #1 in the draft, the Browns traded DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers for CB Damarious Randall and a swap of 2018 4th and 5th round picks.
In April of 2019, after the Cardinals drafted Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the #1 pick, the Cardinals traded Josh Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for a 2019 2nd round pick (#62).
For Kizer and Rosen, it was one and done, as they say.
And in their places came consecutive Heisman Trophy winning QBs from the University of Oklahoma in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
With their second picks the Browns and Cardinals selected CBs, Ohio St.’s Denzel Ward (#4) and Washington’s Byron Murphy (#33).
With their 3rd round picks the Browns and Cardinals selected DEs, Miami’s Chad Thomas and Boston College’s Zach Allen.
With their 4th and 6th round picks the Browns and Cardinals selected WRs, Florida’s Antonio Callaway (R4) and Texas A&M’s Damion Ratley (R6) and Iowa St.’s Hakeem Butler (R4) and Fresno St.’s KeeSean Johnson (R6).
Both the Browns and the Cardinals selected C/G prospects in their drafts in Nevada’s Austin Corbett (R2) and Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard (R6).
The Browns drafted a RB in Round 2, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and the Cardinals drafted a WR in Round 2, Massachusetts’ Andy Isabella.
In Round 5 the Browns and Cardinals selected defensive players, Memphis’ LB Genard Avery and Alabama’s FS Deionte Thompson.
While it would be stretch to claim that the Cardinals patterned their 2019 NFL Draft after the Browns’ 2018 NFL Draft—-the similarities are more than a tad uncanny.
You might find it interesting to look at how the Browns’ and Cardinals’ players in those drafts were rated.
Per NFL.com and Lance Zierlein:
QB Mayfield: 6.04—-QB Murray: 6.25
CB Ward: 6.31—-CB Murphy: 5.95
C Corbett: 5.79—-C Gaillard: 5.56
RB Chubb: 5.79—-WR Isabella: 5.57
DE Thomas: 5.61—-DE Allen: 5.79
WR Callaway: 5.60—-WR Butler: 5.74
LB Avery: 5.42—-FS Thompson: 5.78
WR Ratley: 5.10—-WR Johnson: 5.66
What these ratings would suggest, if they are accurate, is that the Browns’s draft was a bit stronger on Day 2, but the Cardinals’ draft was stronger on Day 3.
Per Pro Football Focus: (Top 250 Board)
QB Mayfield: 1—-QB Murray: 1
CB Ward: 9—-CB Murphy: 6
C Corbett: 65—-C Gaillard: 106
RB Chubb: 41—-WR Isabella: 30
DE Thomas: 93—-DE Allen: 40
WR Callaway: 61—-WR Butler: 42
LB Avery: 131—-FS Thompson: 66
WR Ratley: N/R—-WR Johnson: 173
Three other Cardinals made the PFF Top 250:
TE Caleb Wilson: 121
DE Michael Dogbe: 133
T William Sweet: 184
What the PFF ratings suggest is that the Cardinals may have hit the jackpot with the 2019 draft, as many believe the Browns did in 2018.
Most importantly, both teams drafted their franchise QBs—-the fresh new faces and energy of the organization.
Tonight is the first pre-season test for the Cardinals’ rookies and a chance for Cardinals’ fans to see how these youngsters perform in their first taste of NFL action.
Player rankings on paper can now be put aside—-for from now on—-all that matters—-is how the players perform on turf under the brightest of lights.