Brady Podloski | April 27th, 2020
The Arizona Cardinals brought in an array of talent in the draft, getting value on both sides of the ball. Each pick graded highly and also filled a need on the team. With the positions that needed assistance – defense tackle and linebacker- the Cardinals were able to get new starters and depth.
The Kyler Murray-led offense got better with the addition of star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was traded for a second-round pick. This draft changed the outlook of the Cardinals 2020 season. They now have the depth and talent to be contenders for the division against the 49ers and Seahawks.
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Round 1, Pick 8: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
Simmons changes the chemistry of the defense and will improve all the other players in the system. I wrote on how Simmons would change the chemistry of the Lions’ defense if drafted third overall, and he will have a similar impact on the Cardinals’ defense. Simmons is an offensive weapon and will allow defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to match up against tight ends, running backs, and mobile quarterbacks. It will be fun watching Simmons matchup against 49er tight end, George Kittle. If Simmons refines his man to man coverage, he could be a tight end eraser. Simmons should have been drafted earlier, but the Cardinals got value with him.
Round 3, Pick 72: Josh Jones, RT, Houston
A projected first-round tackle who fell to the third round. Jones could be a full-time starter at right tackle at the end of the year. He has fundamental pass-blocking techniques and good movement skills for the Cardinals offense. The thing I like most about Jones is that he got better every year he played and refined the important details like hand placement. Marcus Gilbert has one more year on his contract, and it seems Jones could be the successor.
Full Scouting Report here.
Round 4, Pick 114: Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
Fotu has the ability to stop the run with his massive size at 6’5”, 330 lbs. He has shown some pass-rushing moves but doesn’t have the hand usage to be dominant. He has upside with his size to be a good pass-rusher if he improves technique. Realistically, he will be a good run stuffer on day one and replace Rodney Gunter. Getting Fotu in the fourth is great value, as he can play day one and be effective against divisional opponents.
Round 4, Pick 131: Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU
Lawrence is another effective plug-and-play defensive tackle in the fourth, who can play day one, on first and second down. I understand doubling up on a position, as stopping the run is essential to winning the NFC West. If the Cardinals can stop inside runs while being disruptive against outside zones then the team can prevent the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams from dominating the running. Lawrence needs to refine his pass-rushing skills, as he’s limited to a bull rush. If he works on a counter move, he could be a three-down starter.
Round 6, Pick 202: Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
Weaver had a fourth-round grade, meaning the Cardinals got lots of value with this sixth-round pick. Weaver has the potential to be a capable starter in the NFL at middle linebacker, playing against the run. With Jordan Hicks more involved with covering players and outside runs, Weaver could play a few snaps stopping the run. I don’t believe Weaver is a full-time starter this year, as a result of the depth at the position. However, he could be a capable three-down starter in year two, if he can improve his coverage ability.
Round 7, Pick 222: Eno Benjamin, RB, ASU
Benjamin was a three-down starter at Arizona State University, where he made a living making defenders miss. Benjamin will be a capable back up to Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, as he can be a pass catcher and carry a workload. Overall Benjamin dropped far from the fifth round grade I had on him, making him a value in round seven.
Full Scouting Report here.
I gave the Cardinals draft one of my three ‘A+’ grades. This was primarily as a result of them drafting players later than the grade they had on them. For example, Jones was a first-round talent and Arizona picked him in the third round. As well, the team improved positions that needed new starters, like defensive tackle, while also bolstering the depth at linebacker and running back. Every player the Cardinals drafted has a path to becoming a full-time starter or playing on limited snaps this year. Cardinal fans should be excited about the upcoming season and the development of Murray and the dynamic offense.
Final Grade: A+
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