Despite coming off a 13-3 regular season and an NFC Championship game appearance, the Arizona Cardinals still had important needs to address through the draft.
The Cardinals entered the draft thin at defensive back and offensive line, and on day three of the NFL Draft, the organization attempted to add depth to its roster with the selections of center Evan Boehm, safety Marqui Christian, offensive tackle/guard Cole Toner and cornerback Harlan Miller.
Boehm was the Cardinals' first selection of the day and came to Arizona with the 128th overall selection in the fourth round of the draft. Though fourth round picks are often made with long-term hopes for players to eventually develop and pan out, Boehm has the potential to help Arizona immediately on the offensive line.
The Missouri product started all four years for the Tigers and will compete with center A.Q. Shipley for a starting role on an offensive line replacing veteran Lyle Sendlein. Boehm checks in at 6-foot-2 and 302 pounds and is considered to be a stronger run blocker than he is a pass blocker.
The Cardinals had two fifth round selections, and opted to add their second defensive back to the class with the selection of Christian out of Midwestern State. The Cardinals have had success drafting players like David Johnson (Northern Iowa) and John Brown (Pittsburg State) out of small schools in the Steve Keim era, and the organization is hoping Christian will improve that track record.
Christian won the Cliff Harris Award in 2015 as the nation's top-small college defensive player, and he ran a wind-aided 4.46 40-yard dash time during his Pro Day. Unlike many players the Cardinals have picked under Keim, Christian isn't regarded for elite speed, but is instead considered a more physical defender who can provide run support from the defensive backfield.
Aside from needing help at center, we outlined the Cardinals' need for a versatile offensive lineman who can provide depth at tackle and the team used its second fifth round selection on Toner out of Harvard.
Toner stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 306 pounds, and the Crimson product has the versatility to play both tackle and guard. The Cardinals don't have any backups with meaningful NFL experience at offensive tackle, and though Toner will need grooming to make the jump from the Ivy League to the pros, there is an opening for him to make the team's roster this season.
Miller was the third defensive back taken by the Cardinals, and might have an uphill climb to make the roster. Miller ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at his Pro Day and posted a 4.65 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which means he doesn't possess the elite speed of similar players at the position.
Miller was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection in three straight seasons at Southeastern Louisiana, and recorded 11 interceptions during his college career.
The Cardinals' day three selections join first round pick Robert Nkemdiche and third round selection Brandon Williams as members of the team's 2016 draft class. The Cardinals' recent success has put the team in position to take a handful of risks in the draft for players who have high ceilings and raw talent, and that's exactly what Keim and head coach Bruce Arians did with many of the team's selections.
Nkemdiche and Boehm have the best chance to make immediate impacts for the team, as players like Williams and Christian will need to capitalize on more specialized, technical coaching and adjusting to the speed of the game at the professional level.
Even though the team took chances on small-school players like Christian and Toner, the Cardinals still drafted according to need instead of opting for the best player available with most of their selections. Defensive line, center and defensive back were the positions we outlined as the most important priorities to address through the draft, and despite having just six picks, the Cardinals added at least one player to each unit.
Arizona does not have a seventh round selection in 2016 as the team traded its pick to Philadelphia in exchange for quarterback Matt Barkley. In the hours after the draft, the Cardinals will look to add undrafted free agents to the roster and will have an extended opportunity to evaluate those players in a practice setting.null