The 2018 NFL Draft is a few weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft profile.
The Cardinals, like a few other NFL franchises, regressed in 2018 due to injuries. It started in game one when David Johnson suffered a broken wrist. The 2017 season ended with 17 players missing at least two games by being placed on injured reserve. Arizona, despite all these injuries, still managed to win 8 games and this franchise will have it’s fair share of challenges heading into the 2018 season.
Before his injury, it was apparent that this offense was going to run through David Johnson. In 2016, Johnson scored 20 total touchdowns and just over 2,000 all-purpose yards.
This offense finished the 2017 season 25th and 22nd in points and yards respectively. Carson Palmer’s injury led to more instability in offensive production (unless you’re Larry Fitzgerald).
Sadly, the Cardinals have not signed a viable bridge quarterback. While Sam Bradford is talented, it’s proven that he will struggle to play all 16 regular season games. To compete in the NFC West, the Cardinals will have to add another quarterback as an insurance policy.
Defensively, the Cardinals finished 19th and sixth in points and yards allowed respectively. This unit was in the middle of the pack for creating turnovers, tied for 16th; however, they were incredibly good on third down. The Cardinals only allowed opposing offenses to convert 35.7 percent of their third downs.
The best word to describe this defense is “solid”. Meaning, they have talent in key positions. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden can rush the passer off the edge. Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker and the newly acquired Bene’ Benwikere round out a good secondary, assuming Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea return healthy. There are a few positions they should look to upgrade, but with only a few picks in this year’s draft, the Cardinals will have to nail their selections.
Picks and Needs
The Cardinals are in a precarious position. They are one of the few NFC franchises without their quarterback of the future. With only four picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cardinals need to add as many impact players as possible.
First Round (1): 15
Second Round (1): 47
Third Round (1): 79
Fourth Round (0):
Fifth Round (1): 143
Sixth Round (0):
Seventh Round (0):
Tackle: If you plan on having Sam Bradford as your starter, you need to protect him. Andre Smith is slated to start at right tackle since Jared Veldheer has been shipped to Denver. His play has steadily declined since 2014. an upgrade at the tackle position would benefit both Sam Bradford, and David Johnson.
Quarterback: It doesn’t appear that the Cardinals have the ammunition, or the intestinal fortitude to move up and claim one of the top-tier quarterbacks. It’s likely they will have to spend one of their later picks on a developmental prospect and keep their fingers crossed that Bradford’s health holds up.
Wide Receiver: Despite what his continued ability to amaze us, Larry Fitzgerald won’t play forever. He likely has two more seasons at most of being the most productive receiver on this team. The Cardinals need to take advantage of his remaining years and bring in a potential heir to Fitzgerald. His work ethic and attitude are rare, valuable assets that could be passed to a young wideout.
Linebacker: The Cardinals front seven of their 3-4 defense is solid. However, there is one flaw. By playing Deone Buchanon, a former safety at inside linebacker, they aren’t stout physically against the run. Hassan Reddick’s snap count decreased as the season went on, signaling he wasn’t adjusting as well to the NFL game. The Cardinals should consider a true inside linebacker with size and experience.
The prospects in this section are ones that the Cardinals will likely be able to select and are assuming their draft position(s) are not changing.
Pick No. 15: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Cardinals, if they stay put, can secure the best tackle in the draft. McGlinchey is a well-rounded, experienced and polished player at left tackle.
That is if Arizona decides to play him there. McGlinchey has experience at both tackle positions and would be a great pick to protect Sam Bradford, as well as elevate David Johnson in 2018.
If they decide to go in a different direction, the Cardinals could select Rashaan Evans from Alabama.
While this might seem like a reach, he would step in and start from day one. His experience, size, and athleticism would anchor the middle of this defense. This would let Hasson Reddick focus on rushing the passer more, as opposed to being an inside run stopper.
Overall, McGlinchey makes the most sense for the Cardinals at the 15th selection given their quarterback situation.
Pick No. 47: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Sam Bradford has proven he can’t stay healthy for a full season, and he’s only under contract for two years. Rudolph would provide Arizona with quality depth at the quarterback decision. He would also have time to develop, which he needs, and work on some issues. Rudolph is unique in the sense that NFL teams don’t have a consensus on where he should be drafted. Some teams have him as a second-round pick, and others have him as a fifth-round pick. Because Arizona doesn’t have a plan past Bradford, it’s likely they take a chance on him in the second round.
Pick No. 79: Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
Deone Buchanon doesn’t have the size of a normal inside linebacker, and Hasson Reddick’s more natural position is that of an outside pass rusher. Burks would fill a need and serve as a good value in the third round of the draft.
The Arizona Cardinals are in a tough spot. They will have to nail their draft picks and stay healthy to keep pace with the Rams, Seahawks, and the surging 49ers.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft profile.