Tom’s Thoughts On…The Arizona Cardinals 2017 NFL Draft Class

The NFL Draft is in the books for another year and, after three days of selections by ex-NFL players, people in outer space and an orangutan in Indianapolis Zoo, the Arizona Cardinals 2017 NFL Draft class is complete. Time for Tom’s Thoughts on each pick then…

Following the NFL Draft in the UK is tough, what with the 1am start on Friday morning and then the 12am start on Saturday morning as well – usually it’s tougher when your team has a much later pick, so I guess I should be thankful for the terrible 2016 NFL Season that saw the Arizona Cardinals end up with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Nevertheless, there I was for all three days of the NFL Draft – watching who the Cardinals would pick, writing for this blog about who they ended up picking and also mourning at the fact that Patrick Mahomes went before the Arizona Cardinals even made their pick. Then again, perhaps they were never as infatuated with any of the available quarterbacks in this class as they seemed to have let on. We all got played.

Anyway, the Cardinals made their picks over three days and opinions were rife all over the place. Having had a day to sleep on the selections, here are my thoughts on each of them.

R1 – Haason Reddick, Linebacker

Now, the large majority of the BritishBirdgang twitter following was really into the idea of drafting Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the NFL Draft and I was amongst them. Then every mock draft seemed to have him coming to Arizona and I began to think “yeah, this isn’t happening and someone else is going to end up getting him before we even pick”…lo and behold, Kansas City jumped up and snagged the Texas Tech guy and we were left distraught, depressed and all those other feelings.

Nevertheless, the Cardinals still had to pick 13th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and, thanks to the run on quarterbacks AND wide receivers in the top selections, there was A LOT of defensive talent still on the board for them to choose from. Including a couple of players who I reckoned would be long gone by the time the Cardinals were on the clock – FWIW, they were Jonathan Allen and Malik Hooker.

Had the Cardinals made either of those their selection with the thirteenth pick of the draft, I would have had few complaints but both had apparent medical issues which caused their fall. Then again, the apparent #3 pick on their overall Big Board was still available for selection at this juncture and they quickly made the versatile Haason Reddick the newest member of the Arizona Cardinals.

He was one of my Fave Five heading into the first round so it’d be a bit silly of me to be that disappointed that he was the selection for the Cardinals. In fact, I was surprised to hear how highly thought of he was within the Cards organisation – granted he had a VERY impressive pre-draft surge up the draft boards, but even so I didn’t think the Cardinals would have him #3 on their big board.

Now I can’t wait to see how he fits in with the team. His athleticism and versatility will make him one of those players that James Bettcher can use in a multitude of different ways – can’t wait to see what they have planned. Hopefully it’s Reddickulous.

As far as the first pick goes, zero complaints from me.

R2 – Budda Baker, Safety

Round 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft saw the Arizona Cardinals add to their depleted secondary with the drafting of versatile Washington safety Budda Baker – though it did come at a cost; a pair of fourth round selections and a 6th rounder to jump up 9 spots in the pecking order. But if they had information that someone else was looking at taking him before they had the opportunity and he’s someone they really wanted to add to their defence, then it’s really not that big a price to pay.

With the Cardinals having lost both Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger the position needed to be addressed and, whilst Antoine Bethea was brought in, they still needed an infusion of youth back there. So Baker was a solid choice in the second round of the draft and one who will likely make some sort of impact in his rookie year.

The one thing many people are saying about this selection is that he was a versatile, Tyrann Mathieu-like player for the Cardinals. With the Cardinals already having the original version in their secondary, having two players as versatile as they are is surely nothing but a good thing for James Bettcher and the Cardinals?

R3 – Chad Williams, Wide Receiver

Into the third round and, given the reputation that Steve Keim is getting for finding quality players in the 3rd – the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, David Johnson, John Brown all drafted there in previous seasons, this was probably one of the most anticipated picks in the Cardinals draft class…so they end up drafting a wide receiver out of Grambling State. Another small-school special?

I don’t dislike the selection, it was just one where I was caught by surprise when it was announced.

At 6’1” and 204lbs, Chad Williams is already one of the ‘bigger’ receivers on the Arizona Cardinals roster so could quite easily get some action from the beginning of the season – barring injuries and the like which I am unable to predict happening. Whether he’s a long-term replacement for Larry Fitzgerald remains to be seen…but, really, it’s not likely. Crazier things have happened though.

FWIW, I don’t think the replacement for Larry Fitzgerald should be considered before he the great one has even hung up his cleats. Plus, whilst he’s still on the roster and able to contribute to the offence, there’s no need for one. But that’s just my two pences worth.

R4 – Dorian Johnson, Offensive Guard

The Arizona Cardinals lost friend of the British Birdgang, Earl Watford in the off-season to the Jacksonville Jaguars so perhaps a replacement back-up Guard with starter potential was something the Arizona Cardinals desired in the 2017 NFL Draft – so perhaps they were surprised to see one of the Draft’s highest-rated Guards available in the fourth round. But other teams’ loss could be their gain.

It was revealed that a kidney issue seemed to have scared many teams off of selecting Johnson but, from the man himself, he said that it’s something that he is totally in control of and is a non-issue, so who knows what they all thought. Anyway, the fact that he played 39 straight games in college in a various amount of positions across the offensive line shows versatility that the Cardinals crave in their offensive line.

He’s a pick with the future in mind given the advancing years of Mike Iupati, the teams’ current starting Left Guard. With him a pending Free Agent, the Cardinals may opt to allow him to walk away should the price be too rich for their liking and and have Johnson “red-shirt” his rookie season with a view to him becoming the long-term starter at the position from next season onwards.

R5 – Will Holden, Offensive Tackle

The Arizona Cardinals went back-to-back with offensive line selections in the 2017 NFL draft with the athletic Will Holden being the first of their two fifth round selections. At 6’7” and 311lbs, Holden definitely has the size to be an NFL-calibre offensive lineman and his toughness and fundamentals will also help him in that quest.

Another player who offers versatility to play on either side of the offensive line – however many speculate that he is more suited to playing Right Tackle as opposed to on the left – and give the Cardinals a swing-tackle that they currently lack on their roster.

He’s another player who could have been brought in with the future in mind as well; with the switching of Jared Veldheer to Right Tackle for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft and him shortly becoming a free agent, the Cardinals might have themselves a cheaper replacement ready and waiting for Veldheer’s departure should they not be able to meet his next contract demands.

R5 – T.J. Logan, Running Back

The Arizona Cardinals spent their second selection of the fifth round on a rapid running back out of North Carolina, a player who will likely come in from Day 1 and compete for reps – and may even take the position for his own – as the teams’ return specialist…given they lack anyone capable of doing so on the roster at the moment.

Though he’s not worked out as Punt Returner beforehand, he has an off-season to see if he can wrestle that position away from Patrick Peterson and anyone else who wants to try to take it. Kick returner though; given his history at the position and the number of huge returns he had in his college career, he should have his name already on that position.

He’s also a dual-threat on offence, with skills both as a rusher and receiver, he can contribute there. Well, whenever the Cardinals choose to give David Johnson a much-needed rest from his duties of being the best back in the NFL.

R6 – Rudy Ford, Defensive Back

The Arizona Cardinals ended their 2017 NFL Draft prematurely when trading up into the sixth round to snatch the versatile Rudy Ford out of Auburn – a player who has played at cornerback, nickelback and safety at various times in his career with the Tigers and someone who will likely fill a similar role with the Cardinals given their penchant for swapping defensive backs around all over their formations.

Apparently he will likely line up at CB more often than not for the Arizona Cardinals which could make sense given the questions over the  CB2 spot on their defence at the moment – but can a 6th round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft beat out last year’s 3rd rounder Brandon Williams or Justin Bethel to earn the spot across from Patrick Peterson?

It’s something to follow over the off-season during training camp and Organised Team Activities.

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