Cardinals Draft Grades: Rounds 1-4

After months of preparation, the Arizona Cardinals 2009 draft turned out to be a resounding success. Arizona addressed its main areas of need and added a few luxury picks as well. Along the way, the Cardinals obtained extreme value thanks to several desirable players falling into their lap. Brad Wilbricht analyzes Arizona's draft selections in Rounds 1-4 and breaks down how each player fits in.

Round 1: Chris Wells, RB, Ohio St
Grade: A


One of the most glaring needs for the Arizona Cardinals entering the draft was at the running back position. Arizona ranked last in the NFL in rushing a year ago and must become more balanced. Wells was touted as the draft's top running back just weeks ago but ended up slipping to the end of the first round. The Cardinals were quick to pounce on the former Buckeye due to his powerful running style. Wells (6'1", 235 pounds) has tremendous quickness for a player of his stature and could be in line to shed a few pounds upon his arrival in Arizona. At pick No. 31, Wells presents extreme value and should see the field early and often during his rookie campaign.

Round 2: Cody Brown, DE/OLB, Connecticut
Grade: B+


Like Wells, Brown addresses an immediate area of need on the Cardinals' defense. Acquiring a pass-rushing specialist has been on the mind of GM Rod Graves for some time and Brown may finally fit the bill. Brown has a tremendous burst of speed off the edge and should thrive as an outside pass rusher in the 3-4 defense. While he played primarily at defensive end in college, Brown will transition to outside linebacker in the professional ranks. One area that Arizona struggled in last year and where Brown currently falls short is tackling. Brown must develop into a reliable tackler in space if he's able to realize his full potential in the desert.

Round 3: Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama
Grade: A-


As far as value is concerned, acquiring Johnson in the third round is about as good as it gets. Although the Cardinals don't have a pressing need at safety, Johnson has a chance to progress into a full-time starter in the NFL. In the meantime, Johnson is a jack-of-all-trades player who can contribute in a variety of ways. He'll be an immediate weapon on special teams and will be incorporated into Arizona's coverage and run stopping schemes on defense. Johnson was a walk-on running back at Alabama and developed into one of the top safeties in college football. Look for Johnson to exhibit the same flexibility with the Cardinals.

Round 4: Gregory Toler, CB, St Paul's College
Grade: B-


Toler was by far the most surprising pick by the Arizona front office but could end up yielding the highest return. While Toler is a relative unknown to most of the Cardinal faithful, things could change in a hurry if he makes the same impact as last year's small school prospects. Toler has a speckled past but his abilities have never come under question. He has exceptional speed and fluid hips, vital qualities in successful cornerbacks. Toler has plenty to learn but could be a steal if he's able to process the information thrown his way. The only question regarding this pick is if Arizona's decision to use a fourth-round pick on Toler was a bit too high.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
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