Okay, so the NFL draft happened over the weekend (in case you missed it, since it was sandwiched between Avengers: Endgame and the big Game of Thrones episode) and honestly, the Cardinals had a really solid draft. It’s not often that you look at the team who had the first pick and think they might be legitimately good, but it happened with Arizona. Now, I’m not saying that this team is going to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, they have to compete in a division with the defending NFC champs, one of the best QBs in football, Russell Wilson, and the 49ers, who are on the verge of a breakout. However, this team did almost everything right in this draft to at least flirt with a .500 record, and maybe even play spoiler to other teams in their division and conference. Let’s look at their first few picks from the past few days.
Round 1, Pick 1 (1): Kyler Murray, QB
Round 2, Pick 1 (33): Byron Murphy, CB
Round 2, Pick 30 (62): Andy Isabella, WR
Round 3, Pick 1 (65), Zach Allen, DE
Round 4, Pick 1 (103): Hakeem Butler, WR
Round 5, Pick 1 (139): Deionte Thompson, S
So let’s look at the first six picks they had. My only complaint is taking Murray first overall. I think Rosen is the better quarterback and they had only had him for a year (and traded up to get him). They could’ve used that pick to get a stud defensive player like Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. Better yet, they could’ve traded back and loaded up on picks, which in stacked draft like this, isn’t a bad idea. This draft and Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure will hinge on Murray working out for Arizona. Byron Murphy was a great pick at the top of the second round. He was rated as one of the top corners in the draft, and many had him going in the middle of the first round, so getting him in the second round is great value. Andy Isabella is the small, speedy, white receiver from UMass who everyone thought would be perfect for the Pats. This man flew up draft boards late in the draft process and for good reason. When UMass played Georgia, Deandre Baker, stud corner for the Bulldogs, said that Isabella is the best receiver he had to cover this year. Isabella ended up with 15 catches for 219 yards in 2 TDs in that game. Against Liberty he had 9 catches for 303 yards and 2 TDs. He has clearly shown that he has big play ability.
Zach Allen is another guy who started to climb draft boards late in the process. I even saw some mock drafts that had him going early in the second round. Once again, getting him in the third round is a steal. As for that fourth round pick, that might be one of the best values in the draft. Hakeem Butler was rated as one of the top receivers by many scouts and analysts, with many giving him a first round grade. The fact that he fell to the fourth round is a crime of which the Cardinals benefit of. The final pick we’ll look at is Deionte Thompson. Thompson was a guy who fell down the board, especially after a particularly bad performance against Clemson. However, he’s still an Alabama defensive player, and those guys tend to work out pretty well in the NFL.
This draft was great for the Cardinals because it addresses needs on offense and defense. The offense should be dynamic (depending Murray). Kingsbury and Murray have all the tools to succeed. They have standout running back David Johnson to go along with Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and Hakeem Butler. The offensive line is still an issue, but Murray’s mobility should be able to mitigate some of that. The defense improved too, with Allen, Murphy, and Thompson playing along side solid defenders such as Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker, Terrell Suggs, DJ Swearinger, and Jordan Hicks. This team is poised to make some noise, and has set themselves up nicely with a solid mix of young talent and veteran presence. Again, their success and the success of this draft class will all come down to how Murray is able to perform.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)