Grading the Draft: Arizona Cardinals

Many liken the NFL Draft to throwing darts at a board. Unfortunately, all too often, that is a literal statement when considering the Arizona Cardinals and their results every April. This year would be no different.

Round Pick Player Pos School
1 17(17) Bryant Johnson WR Penn St.
1 18(18) Calvin Pace DE Wake Forest
2 22(54) Anquan Boldin* WR Florida St.
3 6(70) Gerald Hayes ILB Pittsburgh
5 6(141) Kenny King DT Alabama
6 4(177) Reggie Wells OT Clarion
6 37(210) Tony Gilbert ILB Georgia

UDFAs of Note: Lorenzo Diamond /Auburn/ TE, Reggie Newhouse /Baylor/ WR, Antwone Savage /Oklahoma/ WR, Rhett Nelson /Colorado St/ CB, Watts Sanderson /South Carolina/ T

The scene was set... The Cardinals desperately needed a pass rushing end and impact defensive player, one that would improve the team and put fannies in the seats.  So how perfect that hometown player Terrell Suggs fell right into their laps?  It was too good to be true!

No one expected the Cardinals to move out of the sixth spot, but that is exactly what they did after trading with the Saints, a deal which reportedly had been set up several weeks prior to the draft as Arizona acquired both of New Orleans picks in the first round.

The franchise further complicated the situation selecting a pair of players that would've been available in round two.  Bryant Johnson has the size and speed to replace free agent loss David Boston, but is nowhere near the player Boston was upon entering the league.  The light seemingly went on for Johnson as a senior in 2002, but he's far from the finished product and needs a lot of work.  Their second pick of that round was not much better.

We've been high on Calvin Pace and even reported back in March the Chiefs were considering using the 16th pick of the draft to acquire him but this is the Cardinals, a team that needs an immediate injection of impact up front and Pace does not offer that in either the short or long term.  He's a solid citizen and football player, nothing more.

Anquan Boldin was also drafted a little early in round two considering the  defensive backs available to the Cardinals.  Boldin was awful in pre-draft workouts, though he plays better than he tests.  He offers sure hands and a compact target but considering the Cardinals used their initial choice on a wide out other other areas of need should've been addressed.

Round three saw the Cards draft for value as they tabbed linebacker Gerald Hayes.  Forceful up the field, Hayes could play on the inside or possibly over tight end and will compete for a starting job this summer.

Taken a round later, Kenny King was one of the better bargains of the draft.  The explosive defensive lineman can be used at tackle or end and offers a lot of upside potential.  King must get his head into the game and start to meet expectations, but anyway you cut it round five was great value for the former 'Bama star.

Reggie Wells is a solid developmental prospect at guard and could make the final roster in September while fellow sixth round pick Tony Gilbert has the potential to back-up at inside linebacker and contribute on special teams.

Anaylsis: What is there to say?  The Cards drafted big bodied wide outs, some of them slow, and never got an impact prospect, though one was staring them in the face.  One would think time was on the side of Dave McGinnis looking at the 2003 draft. 

Tony Pauline
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