Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

A closer look at the Cardinals’ picks:

Round 1/10 – Josh Rosen, QB, 6-4, 218, UCLA

In trading up five spots with the Raiders and sending a third- and fifth-round pick to Oakland, the Cardinals may have gotten the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft in Rosen. There are some durability concerns and Rosen isn’t afraid to speak his mind, but the Cardinals absolutely love him. It’s a move general manager Steve Keim had to make after passing on top-notch quarterbacks during every one of his previous five seasons in charge of the club. Rosen is Arizona’s franchise quarterback and although veteran Sam Bradford will likely begin the season as the starter, Rosen will compete for the opportunity, according to new head coach Steve Wilks.

Round 2/47 – Christian Kirk, WR, 5-11, 200, Texas A&M

Arizona filled two needs in selecting Kirk in the second round. Not only is he a capable wide receiver who can step in and contribute from the slot position right away, but he’s also a very dangerous return man on punts and kickoffs. A local product out of Scottsdale Saguaro High School, where he was named the state’s player of the year as a senior, Kirk started as a freshman at A&M and in three seasons there, caught 229 passes for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also scored six other times on punt and kick returns.

Round 3/97 – Mason Cole, C/G, 6-4, 307, Michigan

Cole was the first true freshman to ever start a season-opening game on the offensive line in Michigan history. He went on to start 51 straight games for the Wolverines, the most ever by an offensive lineman. He never missed a practice in four years, either. Cole, who also made 53 consecutive starts in high school, played center, guard and tackle while at Michigan and should provide accountable versatility to the Cardinals. It’s not like they don’t need the depth. Though he started at tackle all last season as a senior, Cole projects more as a swing lineman at both guard spots and at center.

Round 4/134 – Chase Edmonds, RB, 5-9, 205, Fordham

After releasing Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson and losing Kerwynn Williams to free agency, the Cardinals were in dire need of adding some depth at running back and they might have found just that and more in Edmonds, who runs and plays much bigger than his size. He should be able to contribute right away on special teams and could be an extra weapon as a third-down gadget back. He likely won’t get many regular carries, however, as David Johnson remains the Cardinals’ bell cow. Edmonds could still surprise after closing out his career as the Patriot League’s all-time leading rusher (5,862 yards) and all-time leader in touchdowns (74), including rushing touchdowns (67).

Round 6/182 – Chris Campbell, CB, 6-1, 195, Penn State

The Cardinals didn’t address their defense in the draft until this pick and in Campbell, they got a very athletic corner with great size and decent speed. There was a need at cornerback, too, with the departures of free agents Tramon Williams and Justin Bethel. The Cardinals have been looking for a starter to play opposite Patrick Peterson seemingly every year and perhaps in time, Campbell will mature into that type of player. Chances are, however, they will still be looking for a complementary component for Peterson.

Round 7/254 – Korey Cunningham, T, 6-6, 305, Cincinnati

With the third-to-last pick in the draft, the Cardinals stayed with their theme of the draft and went offense for the fifth time in their six picks overall. Cunningham, who began his collegiate career as a tight end, has the size, but he’s going to be a project. He needs to vastly improve his run blocking and pick up better hand techniques to make it at the next level. Cunningham does provide some much-needed depth along the offensive line and will have to earn his way onto the roster as a swing tackle.


WR Christian Kirk: Although offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said quarterback Josh Rosen, the team’s first-round pick, is more than capable to start right away in the NFL, that probably only happens if veteran Sam Bradford gets injured during the preseason. Kirk, on the other hand, will contribute right away as a punt and kickoff returner and be given every opportunity to step in as a regular on a receiving corps that’s undergone enormous changes. He’s a precise route-runner and although he can play all three wideout spots, the projection is he will work mostly from the slot as a rookie. That could change, though, the better he plays.


C/G Mason Cole: Given the injuries and inconsistencies that have rocked the Cardinals’ offensive line over the past few seasons, the versatile Cole stands a more than reasonable chance to make an impact sooner rather than later. Veteran left guard Mike Iupati has had a history of foot and leg issues and it almost feels as if smallish center A.Q. Shipley is long overdue to miss some time after starting all 16 games each of the past two seasons. Cole, who has started 104 consecutive games dating back to his high-school days, will be an accountable force and his versatility, having played all three interior positions in addition to tackle at Michigan, makes him a Cardinals’ rookie to watch in 2018.


CB Chris Campbell: It isn’t Campbell that made Cardinals’ insiders scratch their heads so much as it was that Arizona waited until the sixth round before selecting a defensive player. For the second year in a row, the Cardinals found themselves in a situation where they needed to replace six starters on defense. And yet, they spent each of their first four picks in the draft – they traded away their fifth-round selection – on offense, going quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line and running back. It was thought the team would address the cornerback position a lot earlier than the sixth round. There was and also remains, a real need at safety, not to mention the defensive front. In Arizona’s defense, it’s not as if the offense couldn’t stand some improvements. Last season, the Cardinals ranked 22nd in average yards per game, 24th in third-down percentage, 25th in total scoring and 30th in touchdowns scored in the red zone.