Steve Keim spent 14 years within the Arizona Cardinals personnel department. Before being elevated to General Manager on January 8, 2013. To be fair, the team has seen its most success since Keim took over this position.
Multiple top-ten defenses, setting franchise records for wins in a season (13 in 2015), points in a season (489 in 2015), led the NFL in total offense for the first time in team history (#1 in 2015), and led the NFL in sacks for the second time ever (48.0 in 2016).
The fact is, that Kiem has done some good things to help this organization find success. The problem is, that success reaches a peak, but not the top, before tumbling down the mountain. Going through the draft history since Keim took over, he has missed consistently with most of his selections. A lot of his picks have not been impactful or reached a second contract with the team. This team mismanaged Hassan Reddick for the majority of his tenure in the desert, not to forget how they have handled Isaiah Simmons’ alignment, etc.
As a result of his constant poor drafting, he has become “safe” in terms of team building. Sacrificing draft picks for safer veteran players to fill important roles. Also, opting to sign aging players over developing younger ones due to their struggles in the past.
For example, not prioritizing the offensive line in 2020 early with Tristian Wirfs available before selecting Simmons before selecting Josh Jones in the third. Jones has yet to develop into a starting OT and performed average at best as an OG. Again during the 2021 draft, he selected Zaven Collins over Greg Newsome Jr, when the cornerback was a huge hole on the defense.
Fast forward to the last off-season, Keim traded a mid-round pick for Rodney Hudson. After one up and down season, Hudson is rumored to be leaning toward retiring from the NFL. Also, he preferred to overpay future HOFer J.J. Watt knowing he has not consistently stayed on the field. These “Getter better quick” roster moves must stop.
Outside of the interior OL, offensively the team has a nucleus. Defensively, there is no one strong area to point to. The defensive line struggles to control gaps in the run game (13th worst rush defense) and the pass rush is completely unknown without a “GUY” to depend on to help the secondary. The defense allowed 8th-most passing touchdowns last season with 30.
Optimism for the 2022 season is reasonable and realistic. Despite how the season ends, the current roster-building approach cannot continue going forward. It has not materialized to this point, despite having one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. Building a better roster once Kyler Murray is paid as a top quarterback will be more difficult.
It will rely upon veterans taking less and excelling early in the NFL Draft, something Keim has struggled with. Time will tell if any heat or pressure will be applied to do a better job!