I guess you could say that the Arizona Cardinals got what they needed out of the 2018 NFL Draft if you agree that they came in needing a little bit of everything.
They traded up to acquire the brash, confident Josh Rosen from UCLA to back up notoriously injury-prone quarterback Sam Bradford, upgraded their downfield arsenal by adding Texas A&M wideout Christian Kirk, reinforced their offensive line with the Center from Michigan Mason Cole in the third and a tackle from Cincinnati, Korey Cunningham in the seventh round.
The Red Birds also brought in a backup for their backfield, adding Chase Edmonds at running back from Fordham in the fourth round, before expending their only pick on the defensive side of the ball on cornerback Chris Campbell from Penn State.
Like I said, a little bit of everything.
It’s clear, at least from the draft, that the Cardinals’ focus is on their offense this offseason—specifically getting deeper at key positions, as injuries had a cascading effect last season and took the Cardinals from a Super Bowl hopeful to narrowly missing a wildcard berth into the playoffs. Let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Cardinals in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft Grade
Best Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (Round: 1 Overall Pick: 10 via Raiders Trade)
Let’s face it, pretty much nobody thought that this guy would still be on the board by the tenth overall pick which is why the Cardinals jumped on the opportunity to trade up and add who they hope will be the signal caller of the future for them.
It was an odd decision on Cleveland’s part to select Baker Mayfield first overall, in spite of the fact that he was the third or fourth quarterback on most people’s boards. More than likely, Baker would have still been available for Cleveland’s fourth overall pick, but that decision alone threw much of the rest of the first round into chaos, as teams looked up to see someone that was thought to be more ready for the pro game than his Heisman Trophy-winning counterparts (Lamar Jackson 2016 and Baker Mayfield 2017).
It may be a tossup between the Jets and Cardinals who benefitted most from Cleveland’s outside the box thinking, but this pick cost the Cardinals plenty (shipping the 15th, 79th and 152nd overall picks to Oakland, to move up six spots), so it had better be the right choice.
Best Value/Sleeper: Chris Campbell, CB, Penn St. (Round: 6 Overall Pick: 182)
When you add a rookie DB to compete with and learn from Patrick Peterson in training camp, you’re adding value. Though I really don’t understand the Cardinals’ decision not to draft a safety to replace Tyrann Mathieu, I do like them bringing in a lockdown corner like Campbell to learn the pro game from a consummate Pro Bowler like Peterson.
Campbell flashed moments of brilliance in his outstanding Senior Bowl performance, but he does have a reputation for being too grabby inside, which could make him a flag magnet as a pro. Regardless of what potential Campbell really has as a pro defender, he landed in an ideal situation to make the most of it.
Biggest Reach/Head-Scratcher: Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham (Round: 4 Overall Pick: 134)
The Cardinals are clearly shook after their entire season got derailed when David Johnson got injured, but reaching all the way down to the Fordham Rams, for a four-year starter who dealt with his own injury issues last season, seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
Edmond’s career numbers are startling, and he’s got some really impressive measurable attributes—but his injury history, the quality of his competition and his inability or unwillingness to be a factor in blitz pickup make him a strange choice this early on.
Biggest Need Filled: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (Round: 1 Overall Pick: 10 via Raiders Trade)
I guess I couldn’t just write “duh,” here and leave it at that. As far as incoming prospects go, Rosen is about as complete a quarterback as you could hope for. Many experts had him touted as the second best and most ready quarterback to translate his college success to the NFL, after Sam Darnold.
Though it seems unlikely that he’ll be a week 1 starter, he will probably be behind Sam Bradford on the depth chart, so in the likely event that Bradford goes down, Rosen will see the field this season. Let’s hope he can back up all the talking he’s been doing when that time comes.
Projected Day One Starter(s): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (Round: 2 Overall Pick: 47)
Though Larry Fitzgerald has shown no signs of slowing down, despite his age, time gets the best of all of us eventually. With Fitzgerald’s gem of a career in its twilight years, it’s no surprise that the Cardinals are looking for his heir apparent in this draft and Christian Kirk fits that role exceptionally well.
Kirk has demonstrated toughness, football IQ and a nose for the ball in his career as an Aggie and will likely line up opposite one of the best wide receivers of all time in week 1 of the 2018 season.
Overall Grade: B+
It wasn’t a perfect draft for the red birds, but because of their wide-ranging needs, they were in a unique position to draft the best available player with each pick—though their trade hindered their ability to do so throughout.
In the end, I think that the Cardinals accomplished their goal of getting deeper overall and reinforcing their offensive line. There are still plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball to be addressed through free agency or trade, but all-in-all the Cardinals did a good job of adding pieces to the puzzle.